Can Tunisia Happen in Pakistan?


Many readers of my articles have asked me: Can Tunisia happen in Pakistan with all its problems and difficulties? I have posted my answers to this question in my Twitter site (ramanthink). For those, who haven’t had an opportunity of seeing my Twitter postings, I am repeating them below as bullet points:

  • Only the then East Pakistan had a tradition of mass street protests—not present Pakistan.
  • Even angry Balochs haven’t been able to organise mass street protests. Only sporadic insurgency.
  • So too Pashtuns, Mohajirs & Sindhis.
  • Pakistan never had strong students or trade union movements.
  • Even Islamic fundamentalists were not able to organise sustained street protests after the Lal Masjid raid.
  • When there is anger in Pakistan, it is expressed through terrorism and not street protests as happened after the Lal Masjid raid.
  • Hence chances of a Tunisia in Pakistan are low.
  • Lesson from Tunisia for Pakistanis: What a well-organised and well-led mass protest can achieve, terrorism cannot.



In response to my article on this subject, I have been in receipt of the following comments from a well-informed reader:

“Regarding your note ‘Can Tunisia happen in Pakistan’, I don’t think you are right in saying that ‘only’ East Pakistan has a tradition of mass street protests. Are you forgetting the 4 months of protests in 77, following the elections, which first forced Bhutto to declare martial law and then, eventually, brought him down?

“When you say Pakistan has never had strong student movements, are you forgetting the protests that brought down Ayub in 69?

“Things may have changed since then and terrorism and fundamentalism have become dominant but this is very much part of Pakistan’s history.”

B. Raman

B. Raman (August 14, 1936 – June 16, 2013) was Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies.

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