March 16th, 2011
09:09 AM ET

Why Pakistan has not caught the Middle East's revolution fever

By Reza Sayah, CNN Correspondent

Few countries today are facing as many crippling crises as Pakistan. Some are identical to the problems that sparked revolutions and uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa: government corruption, unemployment, poverty and a floundering economy. But Pakistan has not caught the Middle East’s revolution fever.

Here are four reasons why:

1. Pakistan had its own version of a revolution in 2007. That’s when a largely middle-class movement, fed up with former President Pervez Musharraf’s military rule and failure to crack down on extremists, led an uprising against the regime. A civilian government came into power after the 2008 parliamentary elections that were widely viewed as free and fair. A few months later, Musharraf resigned as president and left the country.

2. Pakistanis have ample opportunities to let off steam and voice dissent through a remarkably free and vibrant press and political system. In Pakistan, trashing politicians is national sport that plays out daily on nearly two dozen 24-hour news channels. The only institution that is clearly immune to public criticism is the military and Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agencies. The relative freedom of expression in Pakistan is rare for an Islamic state, and it allows the public and opposition factions to vent their fury through public dissent instead of resorting to anti-government uprisings.

3. Pakistani culture is made up of at least six different ethnicities: Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi, Baluch, Muhajir and Kashmiri. Each has its own distinct culture and language. This diverse mix of ethnicities makes it difficult for Pakistanis to unite behind a single cause.

4. Pakistanis have many perceived enemies, so it’s often hard to decide whom to rise up against. Yes, the government in Islamabad is perceived as weak and corrupt, but many Pakistanis also view the U.S., Islamist extremists and India as its enemies, too. On any given week in Pakistan, you can find public protests against any one of these perceived enemies. Having too many foes reduces the intensity and focus of dissent, which are often prerequisites for an uprising.

There’s no sign of revolution coming to Pakistan, but this is still a country in a crucial region that desperately needs help and reform to address the most basic needs of its people. Change could come with the democratic mechanisms that are already in place there, but that will take a commitment from all institutions – including the powerful military – along with support from the international community and lots of patience.

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Topics: Middle East • Pakistan • Revolution

soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. FromOtherSide

    If you want to know how much hatred Indians have for Pakistan, you can come here and read the comments posted by Indians here. If Pakistanis are going through crisis then the Indians could either mind their own business or better yet, help Pakistanis out like their good old neighbors. But naaaah, all they can do is come here and post comments to fuel up more anger and frustration . Hey Indians whats your problem? Today King is conducting hearings on Muslims, tomorrow he can do the same against indians. If there was any good left in you, you would want to bring Christians, Muslims together and not divide them further apart. USA was a great country until they let you come in during the IT boom. You outsourced to India and helped Indian economy grow thanks to all the economical opportunities that you used in USA and now you are trying to breed hatred among Muslim and non Muslim Americans. Why? American Muslims want to live in USA peacefully and nothing else. King is wrong, He wants to change it. And you are helping him making USA a hell? Shame on you.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:40 am | Reply
    • RR

      So pakis came to US to live peacefully and Indians are not. Pakistan will never have a revolution becasue of people like u. Supposedly educated but head deep in the mud. For u everything bad happening in Pak is due to India/US/Israel conspiracy. U guys will never wakeup. India is a Trillion Dollar economy. Why do't u compete with that instead of ur hatred and ISI.

      March 17, 2011 at 7:35 am | Reply
      • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

        What do You call it what We have now??? We have Protesting here too!!!

        March 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
      • FromOtherSide

        No looks like you are guilty of something, otherwise I did not accuse Indians of any such things. Pakistan's problems are because of its corrupt leaders. People in Pakistan do not have many economical opportunities so they come to USA for that. I know many such Pakistanis from my community mosque. Our mosques also have a good fraction of Indian Muslims. You want to help King conduct hearings on Mosques, you put all peace loving Muslims in the harm's way, including your own Indian Muslim brothers. Secondly King is a teabagger. After getting rid of Muslims, he will turn towards you for sure. They are white supermacists. So get real and don't force hatred in America, its going to backfire on you.

        March 17, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  2. Chrismiz

    Another revolution in Pakistan after several in the last sixty years? Present state of affairs is the result
    of both army and democratic governments. I saw a picture of an old man holding and burning an American
    flag assisted by a 4/5 year old boy. Shouldn't he be in a school? Revolution or any other change,it is unlikely
    Pakistan will ever show positive changes. One form of government is more corrupt than the other.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:44 am | Reply
  3. American in Pakistan

    Quite simply, the people are unable to focus on anything that takes more than a one or 2 day protest. The tribes and sects are so divided there is not much that can be agreed upon between them in addition to the fact that Pakistanis in general do not look at long term ANYTHING. from costomer service (nothing ever works including ATM's etc) to the next generation and how a good education now, will improve the country 10 years down the road. It is all about what you can get today, who cares about tomorrow.

    Abstract and critical thinking skills are discouraged as the parents run the childs life until the parents finally pass away, choosing everything from who they will marry to what they will do for a living. It is a very odd and confused culture of indian hindu superstitions coupled with taliban style religious radicalism and an internal struggle continues between the tribes on a daily basis in very petty ways with big consequences.

    The country is consumed with small things and very easily divided as is evident by daily bombings of each others mosques etc. Life is not valued and even less is the quality of life valued. The lack of individuality and desire to question things and understand has led to a herd mentality which is easily manipulated by the corrupt religious clerics.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:59 am | Reply
    • Muslim

      As a Pakistani living in Pakistan I agree with you 100% but there is still hope things will change one day. Pakistani are resilient and hardworking. We have faced an enemy 5 times larger who conspired to split the country in half yet we survived and came on strong. Indians are inferior and will always will be. We conquered them and will do it again in due time. Our biggest issue right now is Taliban. Once we can deal with these killers we will turn to improve the economy. We can't deal with Taliban until our "friends" leave Afghanistan.

      March 17, 2011 at 4:03 am | Reply
      • RR

        We conquered India ? U r muslim because ur grand mom got raped by a Babars barber in India before u became a a muslim. Wakeup. Pakis carry inferiory complex from birth becasue they are born in noman 's land gifted by India.

        March 17, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      Sure the Republicans do it by cheating in Congress braking the laws rather than doing it with Troops!!! Although they did us out side People to break up the Unions from protesting in Wisconsin...

      March 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  4. SM

    Kashmir is integral part of India. It was, it is and it will be. Wondeing why it "Kashmiri" is mentioned in 6 ethnicities.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:19 am | Reply
    • The Dirty Paki

      If Kashmir is part of India, then Junagarh and Hyderabad are part of Pakistan.

      March 17, 2011 at 9:10 am | Reply
      • The clean one

        You have a point my man, but you see power works in a different way. It is about time you guys understood why Junagarh, Hyderabad and Kashmir are integral parts of India. But as I know it you guys have a hard time understanding phil/logic so even after 6 decades you Dirty Pakis don't get it.

        March 17, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  5. Hammy the Happy Muslim

    When's "the Nuge" gonna go over and give 'em some "Cat Scratch Fever"?

    March 17, 2011 at 1:27 am | Reply
  6. King of Men

    Pakistan has yet to "catch the fever", but I manage to "catch the clap"? What's up with that?

    March 17, 2011 at 1:43 am | Reply
  7. pat

    Kashmir was land of Brahmin hindus..and there are documented 300000 hindus who had to leave Kashmir due to muslim invasions over last 2 decades. See the proof..

    I believe we should stop attacks on any religion first before we talk about attacks on ourselves.

    History has shown invasions only bring death and destruction to local peace loving people.

    March 17, 2011 at 2:26 am | Reply

      Indian /Israeli/ American conspiry is totaly against the Lord Curzon's,Lord Mountbattern's theories of two nation theories.That's why pakistan is not able to survive today. According to the mentality of muslims in Indian occupied Kashmir, all hindus in J& K were inferior Idolators and pagans and they must be killed. Then how will your hindu extremist cast supremacy will work in J & K ???????

      March 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  8. Nishant

    50years down the road pakistan will look like mexico when india like united a good neighbor

    March 17, 2011 at 2:27 am | Reply
    • Muslim

      I love the song by Aerosmith and you must do too. Dream on, Dream On.....Indians are the most delusional people in the world. The western media has done a number on them making them think strange things. Check UN facts on poverty, India rank below African countries in most categories.

      March 17, 2011 at 3:56 am | Reply
    • nonconformist

      yoo are right Mr.Nishant, India is focussing more on developing rather than killing other religions and blaming govt for everything.

      March 17, 2011 at 10:00 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      Mexico is about as much of a Good Neighbor to the United States as India is to the Pakistan and Afghanistan!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  9. Bish

    Pakistan is a unstable terrorist country.All the terrorists caught in spain,UK,holland,USA etc are all pakis & trained in pakistan. The business of pakistan is to export terrorism. They should be destroyed. By the way they will self destruct in coming years.

    I luv India.

    March 17, 2011 at 3:22 am | Reply
    • Naveed

      sir you are ignorant fool please gather the facts who created taliban and al qaeda, infact al qaeda was CIA product means THE DATA BASE

      March 17, 2011 at 6:49 am | Reply
      • Bud Tree Jr Revision 1

        Naveed you crusty phallic, it means the base not data base.

        March 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      I can assure You the Pakistan People would rather not have the Tarriest there!!! Just like the American People wish They didn't let the Republicans and Tea Party in office...

      March 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  10. Muslim

    If Muslim wanted to kill, they have done it when they were the undisputed super powers of the world for almost 1000 years. If that was the case all of India has been converted or killed. All of Spain would have been Muslim and you would not find a single non Muslim in Middle East or in Africa. If majority believed that Islam was violent then it won't be the fastest growing religion in the world and specially in the west and Americas. All arguments aside, look at the facts.

    March 17, 2011 at 3:50 am | Reply
    • Bud Tree Jr Revision 1

      The Muslims did. Then the Muslims were stopped and the Gates of Vienna. Then the Muslims started killing each other. Now the kill each other and non-muslims.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      What Pakistan is trying to do isn't much difference from what the Catholic are trying to do in the united States!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  11. Naveed

    because america doesnt want revolution in pakistan its simple america had the best puppet government in pakistan ever cant u see the judgement of ramond davis its pathetic if it was pakistani he would probably be hang to death even in america. No Rule of Law in any nation.

    March 17, 2011 at 6:48 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      It was a Reagan the one that put Him into Office!!! The Republicans all way put Dictators in Office in The Countries They want...

      March 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  12. Islam_Messedup

    It is the problem with Islamic religion – written thousands of years ago by a crack addict . No wonder the rules are so strange

    March 17, 2011 at 7:23 am | Reply
    • The Dirty Paki

      Islam forbids drug use unlike you Americans who get high and then blame the mexicans for it.

      March 17, 2011 at 9:12 am | Reply
      • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

        If that is true??? Why do They grow it there???

        March 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  13. Syed Ali

    Christian and Jews dump their religion. Hard to find practicing Christian and Jew. Alhamdolillah Muslim are still stick to the religious values. Note: Basics of Christian, Jews and Islam are same.

    March 17, 2011 at 7:28 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      All Religions started from the Jewish Religion!!! They all started with GODS Laws... They just changed things as They went along!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
      • FromOtherSide

        All religions started from Abraham and he was not a Jew.

        March 17, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  14. Robert Iacomacci

    The real question that needs to be asked is why has the REVOLUTION FEVER not come to the united States yet! The next question is, in the sad and tragic event that REVOLUTION FEVER does come to the United States, on which side will CNN and the rest of the media be? I think we all know that answer to it.

    March 17, 2011 at 7:45 am | Reply
  15. Tensai13

    Pakistan has not suffered a revolution – yet. Pakistan is an ecologically devastated overpopulated poverty stricken failed state that will collapse with the next harvest failure.

    March 17, 2011 at 7:46 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      There is poverty all over the World including the United States!!! The problem is the United States is the Richest Country besides Japan and China... We are losing it more and more every day thanks to the Republicans and the Tea Party!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  16. World Peace

    The word 'Pakistan' sends out negative vibes. Why is it so? Because for the last two decades majority of terror attacks around the world have had Pakistani connections. Pakistanis need to correct this and the world will start loving you again. Let there be Peace for all....

    March 17, 2011 at 9:00 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      Maybe it isn't Them but all the Countries around Them that is causing it???

      March 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  17. Jeff

    As a American with business interests in China and south asia, I have visited Pakistan numerous times. In all honesty, I found Pakistanis to be the most welcoming hosts of either the indians or the chinese. I find it truly strange how the world is depicting Pakistan, I believe Pakistan has a serious branding problem. 90 percent of it is perception and may be the rest might have some merits. Here in America, I dont visit many areas in my city where I know there is more crimes. It is no different in Pakistan. If Pakistan can become solely focused on improving law and order situation, I will triple my investments in that country. Good people, beautiful country – they deserve a better place among the nations of the world.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:14 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      They would love to have American Companies making Business in Their Country!!! What Country wouldn't??? Look at the Ones Our Corporations are in now!!! They are Richer than the United States... The Problem like the United States the Workers aren't seeing any of the Wealth!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • FromOtherSide

      Thanks Jeff. There is one book 'Three cups of tea' it supports what you just said

      March 18, 2011 at 12:04 am | Reply
  18. a

    Pakis, will never be able to return to their homeland ever, the nation is being destroyed just like Afghanistan, too bad China shall not save ur a$$ ever, and as for India even with all its problems is still respected world wide, even though some claim its more poorer than Africa, atleast thats changing.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:19 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      I would never say never about any thing... Look how things has changed in Russia and China!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  19. Amrullah Yousafzai, Margalla Hills

    Why couldn't all Pakistani girls look like her?

    March 17, 2011 at 9:26 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      Not Her again???

      March 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
      • Amrullah Yousafzai, Margalla Hills

        Her name is Dua Qureshi

        March 18, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  20. JebaS

    to all hindu haters from Pakiatan – remember our forfathers were from India and were Indians. They were converted muslims. So if you are bad mouthing Hindus, bascially you are badmouthing your forfathers as well. Also in terms of your freedom of speech, what happened to the christian minister? wasnot that also not freedom of speech?? Please do not be least those of you who are educated, at least do not have tunnel vision. you hate India because you can not compete with them....

    March 17, 2011 at 11:17 am | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      Sure now the Catholics are Trying to change Them!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    • FromOtherSide

      Our forefathers were smart people, they not only spelled 'forefather' right, they also converted to Islam. Probably they were untouchables and got sick of your caste and class system. In Islam everyone is equal. So please focus on your own problems.

      March 18, 2011 at 12:30 am | Reply
  21. Bud Tree Jr.

    My apologies to everyone who read my posts above. I'm just an ignorant Tea Partier who tried to sound smarter than he actually is. I have no knowledge of Islam at all. In fact,I never got past the 5th grade in school so my knowledge of history is next to nothing at all.

    March 17, 2011 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • Bud Tree Jr Revision 1

      Looks like I got under your skin. Hate the truth don't ya. Your posts using my screen name show just how sad and simple your life is. You must be "deficient" or maybe a "social baboon"......either way stealing a screen name is cheap.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
      • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

        You get under Every Ones Shin!!!

        March 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • FromOtherSide

      Lol great. We already knew that though but thanks anyway. Lol.

      March 18, 2011 at 12:01 am | Reply
  22. Andre

    Pakistanis... narrow minded, fowl mouthed, blame all but self kinda people, from a terror shithole country. Revolution is only for forward thinking, freedom loving proud people not for goat herds.
    Thats all I want to say Amen..

    March 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      These People listen to Fox!!! So they only can see it through blind eyes...

      March 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Reply
      • FromOtherSide

        yeah Larry Kegel u r right. They watch FOX news too much.

        March 18, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  23. Ritu

    there is nothing wrong with any muslim .The root cause is book which has been wrtten 1400 years ago by pedophiles who even did not know about menopause of women. This book has to burn or modified according to modern civilisation

    March 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Reply
    • Larry Kegel (USAMY)

      I could say the same of the Catholic Religion!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Reply
    • FromOtherSide

      Ritu dear you are an Indian right? You claim that Hindus and Muslims live peacefully in your country right? OK so how do the Muslims live peacefully with you when you keep hurling insults towards their Holy book? Unless of course you oppress them so much that they really can't do much about it.

      March 18, 2011 at 12:19 am | Reply
  24. FromOtherSide

    I really do not get it. First the indians claim that Hindus and Muslims live peacefully in their country and in the same post they bash Islam and Quran. I mean can you also notice contradiction here? Muslims whether they are from India or Pakistan, follow Islam and Quran. How come they live peacefully with you when you keep hurling insults towards their belief. Please answer me someone so I can sleep peacefully. I mean I have some Indians neighbors in building next door. Apparantly they are nice to me but the question lurking in my head is Are they also logged in here and hurling insults towards my faith? Why are they do deceiving or its just my imagination...after reading all these hateful comments made by 'My Indian brothers'....phew

    March 18, 2011 at 12:25 am | Reply
    • satish

      Indians and Pakis are ONE BLOOD TWO RELIGIONS.The partition of India was done fraudulently over 60 years ago.We cannot still keep on blaming the Brits anymore and we need to settle our differences mutually and amicably.We were both played against throughout the cold war by the then superpowers and KAFFIR WAHABI SAUDIS (pak is still intensely infected by non-Islamic wahabbism) who had local collaborators(traitors/puppets).Although the cold war is over,pak has been dragged into the afgan war by its masters (ISAF).The evidence is not convicting the CIA murderer in Lahore (adoption of blood dollars 'justice' and greed far greater with more lethal consequencies than India).We need to grow up and realise that we are ONE BLOOD TWO RELIGIONS and we need to forgive the past and end mutual hostilities.Kashmir is an integral part of India (Kashmir was named after KASHYAP MUNI who drained the Kashmir valley-historical fact).India will never let Kashmir go because it will never forget the atrocities of the past that Aurangzeb inflicted on the Kashmiri Brahmins by forcibly converting them (along with others)to Islam.Pak does not need nukes and is wasting its resources on them.Half the world's poor live in India and its Government is lifting them out of poverty and this is a slow process.You pakis had all the opportunities to develop into a strong and economic power but you did not because of your arrogance ('military might'),ignorance (wahabi-inflicted madness) and dream of ISLAMIC rule all over the Indian sub-continent.Forget all pettiness and seriously consider the reunification of both countries.Your claim that your hindu ancestors were smart to convert to Islam is a lie.They were given the option to either choose islam or death.95% of the people of my surname are converted muslims in pak and their ancestors did not convert of their free will.Muslims at large consider us Hindus as 'kaffirs'.You need to change change your views on Hindus.GOD can also be in a stone but GOD is not a stone (explaining the practise of idol worship-helps in being a point of focus during worship of GOD/BHAGWAN/ALLAH/JEHOVA/YAHWEH (refering to GOD in different languages-language is the difference;GOD is one for all Humanity.

      March 18, 2011 at 8:08 am | Reply
      • FromOtherSide


        You look very confused to me otherwise the 2nd half of your message wouldn't have contradicted the first one. If we should forgive each other and forget about the past, India should be able to forgive the atrocities committed by Aurangzeb. We should live in the moment and let the Kasmiri people decide whatever they want. Kashmiris want freedom from both the countries and it has been the bone of contention between these two countries eversince their birth. Why not settle our differences and let go Kashmir. How can you say that India is a peaceful country and Hindus have made peace with Muslims when you have not?

        March 18, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  25. Confused Otherside

    If u hurl insult at hindu religion non stop hum kya theri pooja kare aarthi uthare kya...?

    March 18, 2011 at 3:28 am | Reply
    • FromOtherSide

      Thank you confused otherside,
      You just proved my point. Hindus and Muslims both hurl insults towards each other and they cannot live in peace like that. So stop telling everybody India is a peaceful country and Pakistan is not. Because India is not a peaceful country. I mean how can you both hurl insults towards each other and live happily ever after. . If an uprise starts in Pakistan (which will start one day anyway), India will also get caught up. For proof read your own comments. So resolve your issues before that day comes. Let go Kashmir and stop oppressing them and hurling insults at each other. Thanks. Wow the smell of victory.

      March 18, 2011 at 10:35 am | Reply
  26. Otherside's popinlaw

    Our co-existance as one nation & moving in right track proves you wrong Mr.Otherside, percentage of paki type mentality is less in India (may be there are 20% narrow minded in India),Pak=90% narrow minded.

    March 18, 2011 at 11:36 am | Reply
  27. JeehaadMyNutz


    The above link shows The Muslim Students Association pledge of allegiance.f4v

    It speaks for itself

    WASHINGTON – The Muslim Students Association, or MSA, is one of the largest Islamic organizations in America, with chapters on hundreds of college campuses. It's alumni include doctors, lawyers and engineers.

    But the group has another track record that it doesn't advertise: several of its leaders have been convicted of terrorism, prompting some terror experts to call the MSA a recruiting tool for jihad.

    Although many Muslim and liberal groups complained about recent congressional hearings on homegrown Islamic radicalism, American-born Muslims are behind a growing number of terror plots - a trend that Attorney General Eric Holder has said keeps him "up at night."

    Many of these homegrown jihadists once belonged to the MSA, which has thousands of members on college campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada.

    March 22, 2011 at 11:38 am | Reply
  28. Ammara

    After reading all the comments, I feel Americans are as ignorant as anything! Equipped with latest technology and information reservoir, they still dont know what they are talking about while quoting Islam! Guys plz, go and study it before interpreting it cz you guys don't know a single bit! Leave Pakistani people alone. Extremism has nothing to do with religion. USA has always tried to poke its nose into every second country .. they destroy the nations and then claim to rebuild it! The dumbest nation ever!

    March 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Reply
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