“You say you want a revolution/ Well, you know/ We all want to change the world,” John Lennon announced in 1968, “…But when you talk about destruction/ Don’t you know that you can count me out”.
The Beatle was hedging his bets in a year that witnessed a revolutionary upsurge across most continents, including in Pakistan, where Ayub Khan’s semi-military regime was decidedly running out of steam and faced protests spearheaded by students.
Ayub fancied himself as a revolutionary figure, having assumed power a decade earlier. But neither his entry nor his exit occurred in a revolutionary context. Nor has any subsequent switch of power been characterised as anything more drastic than a coup.
A revolution, after all, entails a fundamental shift not just in the power structure but also in the relations of production. It is a relatively rare occurrence. In a global context, the last such changes to take place were in Iran and Nicaragua 35 years ago. Nothing of that nature appears to be on the horizon in Pakistan.
A worthwhile revolution in Pakistan would challenge the structure not just of political power but also of economic power, the transitionary stage between feudalism and capitalism in which the nation appears to have stalled.
There is little evidence, however, of the kind of political forces capable of effecting such a change.
What is not beyond the scope of possibility is basic change of the fundamentalist variety whereby the existing structures do indeed change, but only to the extent of facilitating faith-based perversities. Given the extent to which the nation has already drifted in that direction in the past three decades, perhaps it would take less than a revolution to complete the Talibanisation of the state. But it would be an unmitigated disaster either way.