Street Activism and Social Change in Pakistan

Street activism is a powerful tool of Social Change but in Pakistan it is used as a proxy to develop separatist socio political movements, radicalization groups and dogmatic citizenry.

There are many social movements containing social, political and radical slogans and agendas for bringing change in Pakistan. Recently Youth has been called onto the streets by “Azadi March” and “Inqalab March” led by Mr. Qadri and Mr. Khan. Mr. Khan is representing urban youth while Molana Qadri is representing mainly rural segments. A vague notion about “Revolution” is used widely in motivating youth and general citizens although few are even aware of the meaning of “revolution”. The interesting fact about all social movements, whether radical Jihadist or political movements, is that they are using similar social and political phrases often led by a desire for social change. I am a great supporter of street activism and I have been a street activist since childhood.

The fact is that social change in Pakistan is driven on by a vague language where political and social workers are not informed about their fundamental rights and also the mechanism of Government machinery. In the past a dictatorship regime is so like this. According to a survey of International Institutions, more than 70 % of Pakistanis support dictatorship and they believe that dictators may run a government better. This reflects the street mentality of social movements and the basis of radicalization in Pakistan.

Since childhood when someone around told me about social problems and linked it to conservatism and fear of an open society (where dialogue is welcomed among opposing groups) and western hegemony, very few were in my circle who led me towards “Free Inquiry”. Years later, I was so strong in my thoughts about “so called social change” which quite often reflects the fears of others and due to this was unable to listen openly to intellectuals advocating free inquiry approaches. These whole phenomena took a decade of my life.

Many social activist and political workers are motivated by orthodox religious beliefs about social transformation. Which sort of social change is expected when someone is motivated on the basis of conservative causes? Will the country be advanced or face regression? Will it not be assisting radicalization and intolerance in society? What is the true way for Street Activism?

For social change, you must be aware of what you want. What is the end goal of your effort? In the current situation, if one claims that he is acting for electoral reforms remember: it will not happen overnight, it requires a comprehensive work plan, policy design and consensus of all political parties whether ruling or opposing. The revolutionaries, if they want true political reformation, must advocate their electoral reforms plan and make their workers an informed worker. What is the current situation? Every revolutionary leader is only blaming the past. Do you think only blaming will work? Come on! You can motivate workers through the blame game or you may overthrow the government. Some other person or party may take charge of the government and perhaps it may work to satisfy your revenge against the status quo but electoral reforms will remain a dream. So, dear citizens, we hope you are not only emotionally charged but rather an informed citizen.

Mr. Khan is playing his best role in finding new ways to show how the Election Commission has been playing a fake role! Can you please tell me, if you go to a doctor and he only shows you symptoms and no solutions for it, how will you feel? I guess you will be more frustrated and depressed. My dear active revolutionaries! The electoral process transparency is never in the hands of Nawaz Sharif or Imran Khan. It is all about system development which requires broader political party consensus and not only Mr.Imran Khan. So, do not remain in a dream. Be an informed and responsive citizen. Do not believe blindly in your leader, any leader.

Upper middle working class always supports non-democratic forces and they do not believe in the equal ownership of the state by all citizens. However, lower middle class strives for unknown social change led by radicalism and religious beliefs. There are two aspects which I learned from my past experiences when I was working as a street activist and advocating social causes on the basis of vague notions. I was surrounded by so many street movements and every street activist was convinced he/she had similar social problems either by radical organizations working for Inqalab or leftists’ movements calling for total derailing of the system by political democracy. This is an environment which impacts every street boy on a daily basis and unfortunately his innocent mind is unable to challenge dogmatic approaches to activism.

Causes of Street Activism

What is even stranger, the political organization lacks the intellectual capacity to advocate their vision for a progressive future. The street activist is bombarded with a passive approach to parliament and governance that leads to exclusive behaviors and separatist trends. The main element resides in orthodox religious motivation. It is an unknown revolution and no strong foundation for progressive and peaceful social change. This phenomenon often leads to intellectual crisis and the middle class has been a victim of this mentality quite often.

The questions that citizens must ask are:
How is street activism limiting the citizen’s development?
What is “Free Inquiry” and why is it necessary for Social Change in Pakistan?
What is the right way for social activism which leads to a real impact on policy issues and advancement in cultural values of society?

What Initiative has RESIP for Social Innovation taken to make a shift in street activism?

I am pleased to announce that, Renaissance Association for Social Innovation has taken a step towards inclusive social change titled “Collage Peace Fellowship Program” for research based activism and social change. The aim of the program is to develop an Eco Environment in educated youth about impact-full social change.

The program also aims to;

Break the vague notion of street activism linking it to social impact while maintaining the large scale. Linking policy making and creating informed citizens who know how government institutions work and who play a responsible role in social change by knowing the facts, research and policies.

Visit our website for more information