The issue in Okara

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Oh dear! The latest move by General Raheel Sharif has certainly thrown a spanner in the dapper dog’s anti-military agenda. Just as they had started to build a case about how the big bad Khakis corruption has never been dealt with, the naughty general has gone ahead and started cleaning his own house. Now, how will the single malt whiskey with a line of cocaine movers and ‘script’ shapers of Pakistan, pay this month’s rent. Simple, by ignoring it all together, and focusing on another new ‘issue’ with the hope that this will shift the focus back onto their ‘fight against the khaki oppressors’.

The new buzzwords circulating amongst this lot, ladies and gentlemen are Okara, peasants, tanks, and land grabbing.  For them the situation in Okara is not yet another clear example of the Nawaz regime’s use of disproportionate force to quell citizens when they protest but, is instead a reason to band together as warriors who will take on the country’s military. The reason for them banding together is also mind boggling.

News of a tanks and a military cantonment in the Okara district is what they are really perturbed about. Proof in their minds, that once again the khakis are oppressing the people and that they are somehow operating outside the writ of the state. The truth of the matter is that while what is happening to the 4000 farmers in Okara is indeed a serious matter, the current military high command has nothing to do with this. No friends, the change in the contract concerning the rights of farmers took place in late 2008- 2009 when the PPP took over the country. Since then, as is the style of the corrupt political class, the farmers of that area have been steadily pushed out. Now those of us— unlike the protest vigil comrades—-, who know a little about life outside the three major cities, are already aware of the fact that, military bases are scattered all across the country. Military bases which have units, which have tanks in them, which are routinely taken out for test driving in rural areas. The outrage, for this specific camp of people regarding the Okara farmer’s protests is that there was a tank which they claim is being used to intimidate the 4000 protestors and not the actual problems that farmers seem to be protesting about. The fact is that the picture of this rouge lone tank, has been taken by an AWP (a rabid anti-military militant leftist party) member and the circulation of this image is what has caught the attention of the illiberal left. Protest vigils, biased op-eds and tweets are being launched in an effort to shift the focus away from across the board accountability and the corruption that haunts the current government. Sticking to a familiar script, these champions of democracy are once again creating mischief and ensuring that Pakistan remains in a state of chaos and bad governance.

The picture provided itself, doesn’t make sense since a civilian truck is protecting the tank which the comrades are claiming is attacking and blocking the 4000 farmers path. The government and not the military have decided, that they will arrest, shell, and tear gas the peasants into submission and are using the National Action Plan to justify their actions. Thus, the clarification that needs to come is from the government and not the military. Sensible voices, who genuinely care about the rights of the peasants, and the land grabbing that, might be taking place there are very clear in saying that this yet is another example of government sponsored thuggery, and that the military is not the issue now.

 Now a reasonable mind would deduce, that what is happening needs to be properly looked into for a solution to the farmers problems but as is the case in the land of the pure…. this cause too has been hijacked by an illiberal lobby. A lobby, bent on promoting their specific narrative of us vs. the military in a calculated effort to keep the people of Pakistan in a state where corruption thrives and the state exists under a sham democracy.


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