An independent think-tank

“Embroiled in its own crises, Pakistan is least concerned about the Arab Spring”

The Arab Spring, a recent wave of civil uprisings and demonstrations in the Arab countries, hasnot received much attention in Pakistan. Pakistani government and people appear least concerned about it seemingly due to internal mess of political, economic and security crises.Nonetheless, it is a least likely scenario that the Arab Spring may replicate itself in Pakistan as we have already democratic government and institutions in place and several avenues of expression are available to the people. Meanwhile the existing divisions along ethnic, sectarian and political linesin Pakistan further make prospects of such a revolutionary movement least likely. These remarks were expressed by speakers in a focused group discussion on the topic of “The Arab Spring: Shift in the Middle East and Implications for Pakistan,” organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in Islamabad. The session was chaired by Dr Tanvir Ahmed Khan,former ambassador and foreign secretary.The key discussants were Dr. Maqsoodul Hassan Nuri,chief executive Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), and Dr. Ahmed MuaffaqZaidan,a leading analyst on Middle Eastern affairs associated with Aljazeera TV channel. Representatives of civil society organizations, research institutes and media also participated.

The participants were of the view that while Pakistani government and people seem relatively less concern about the Arab Spring as compared with the western and other parts of the world, certain religious, socio-cultural and economic and other foreign policy and public-level determinants of Pakistan’s relation with the Arab countries suggest that the Arab Spring may affect Pakistan and its people one way or the other.

It was also argued that the youths of the Arab countries are more aware and conscious about their issues and rights as they are more close to the Europe while South Asia is a different world where fragmented public is always looking for an iconic leadership to lead them.

Some were of the view that world generally tends to develop language which the West has unleashed. Unfortunately in Pakistan particularly, due to dependence on English language and our ignorance of Arabic and Persian languages we often have to borrow Western terminology and its connotations. With regard to uprisings in the Arab world, we hypnotized ourselves into believing that the whole thing is about freedom, liberty and social media, which is a partial picture of the overall happenings there.

Others asserted that the Arab Spring is as fresh air of change in favor of the people and absence of support for it in Pakistan is a matter of surprise for many. At the same they said it is too early to give words about the direction of this change and we will have to wait at least two decades for it.