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Monday, August 18, 2014

IMRAN KHAN'S MOVEMENT OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE - FACTS & ILLUSIONS

A number of my friends are criticizing the movement of Civil Disobedience announced by IK without knowing what does this movement mean. It may be noted that civil disobedience is one of the tools of peaceful protest. It is non violent in nature and targets a specific area of the sitting govt - the revenue. It is frequently done in Europe, Japan, South Korea. ANC in South Africa was able to make govt after a successful civil disobedience movement.

When civil disobedience is launched the people do not pay taxes, utility bills and other dues to the govt, thus reducing its revenue sources and choking its financial life line.

Civil disobedience is in vogue in this country for the last 6 decades. There are two categories of people here; the Deprived ones and the Privileged ones. It is only the deprived ones who are actually paying all the taxes and the bill. The corrupt ruling elite and their cronies never pay taxes, avoid payment of utility bills, indulge in power theft and yet remain the privileged class. It is this class who are already carrying out civil disobedience. They don't have to announce it but they do it practically. The poor and deprived segment of society actually pays the dues and compensate for the theft and shortfall of the privileged class.

Pakistan is among one of those countries where people pay tax the least. All the big fish are invariably given tax exemptions on one pretext or the other. The tax net has never been extended to include the capitalists, the feudal lords and the rich. The burden of taxes is always transferred down to the poor people and consumers through indirect and hidden taxes. It is irony that electricity is denied to people but bills have increased manifold. So under such circumstances if a national leaders asks the people not to pay taxes to the govt it hardly disturbs the system already in vogue. The leader is actually asking the people to take stock of their basic rights that are being trampled in the name of taxes.
In civilized countries people pay taxes so that the govt takes care of them. Here people pay taxes so that the rulers usurp this taxpayers money illegally and expand their own private business empires. Should a poor man pay tax so that the Kings of Raiwind may spend Rs. 400 million just on their personal security? Should the taxes be paid in order to support their foreign tours worth billion of rupees?
This is a good decision by IK which will have wide ranging consequences. Though implementing civil disobedience across the board may not be possible in letter and spirit because most of the taxes are now indirect, the impact of this movement will be more of a psychological than financial. even if only 15% of people pay heed to this financial boycott of the govt, the impact will be substantial. The role of KPK govt will be crucial in this movement. What if the provincial govt refuses to pay taxes to federal govt? This news have made headlines in international media also. IMF hs cancelled its visit to Pakistan. The global financial institutions may refuse to lend loans to Pakistan on the plea that there is a civil disobedience movement going on so from where the govt will pay back the loans?
It may be understood that civil disobedience movement is essentially directed against the incumbent govt and not against the state. It is a one time measure will limited objectives and limited time frame. As soon as a legitimate govt comes to power, payment of all taxes and bills be resorted.