Strikes, Protests, or Civil Disobedience?
In England, doctors have gone on strike; in Pakistan, Public is protesting against increased
electricity bills. Both strikes and protests are forms of collective action by individuals or groups
to give vent to their dissatisfaction, or to raise awareness about specific issues. However, there
are some differences.
Strikes are predominantly economic actions taken by organized groups of workers, such as
labor unions, to demand better working conditions, higher wages, improved benefits, or other
employment-related concessions from employers. The main goal of a strike is to disrupt the
normal operations of a business or industry to pressure employers into meeting the workers'
demands. Whereas, protests encompass a broader range of issues and objectives.
They can be organized by various groups expressing dissent about government policies, social
injustices, or other matters. Protests are not limited to labor-related issues. It includes a wide
range of actions, such as marches, rallies, sit-ins, boycotts, and Civil Disobedience : the
deliberate violation of laws or regulations as a form of protest. While it can be a powerful tool
for social change, participants often face legal consequences such as fines, arrests, or
imprisonment. In Western countries, strikes are common. They are peaceful as fundamental
human rights are ensured. Whereas in Pakistan, it seems that common man is left with no
option but to unleash his ire via violent protests.
Gone are the days when peaceful Lawyers’ Movement brought change. Gone are the days
when politicians urged the public to torch their utility bills as protest against the then
government . Today the people are doing it themselves. Demonstrations against electricity
charges in Pakistan have surged exponentially, yet the government's is adamant to provide any
relief lest the decision should compromise IMF loans. To crown it, the interim government is
sitting on the fence whether to waive the free units bestowed upon the “more equals” or not.
Government must remember without setting a personal example, she cannot expect the public
to offer any sacrifice. Otherwise, there would be no villain to incite any civil disobedience.
During the Second World War, when Churchill became Prime Minister he said “I have nothing
to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” This expression means that an individual has devoted
his utmost energy and skills to perform a task, as if he had poured his heart, soul, and hard
work into it. Can our leadership set a similar example? That is the question.