What happens when people speak up?

On September 15, 2014, PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) Flight PK-370 bound for Islamabad was delayed at Karachi for over 2 hours ostensibly waiting for the arrival of former Interior Minister Rehman Malik of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Dr Ramesh Kumar Wakwani, a National Assembly member of the ruling PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz).

According to Mid-Day, when Mr. Malik and Dr. Wakwani finally came, the passengers stopped them from boarding the aircraft, shouted at them, and booed and ridiculed them.

PIA has clarified that the delay was due to a technical issue and not because of the politicians. Whatever the truth, the point is the passengers spoke up when they thought the powerful politicians had caused the delay, and the politicians had to retreat in the face of citizen power!

DNA reports that, earlier the same day, in Vasai, a suburban town north of Mumbai, a motorcycle rider was confronted by the police for entering from the wrong side of a road. When the young man refused to furnish his Driving Licence, and further challenged the cops who were also allegedly parked on the wrong side of the road, a police officer started misbehaving with him. As can be seen in the video clip below, the young man stood up to the police officer. The people around vocally supported the young man, forcing the police officer to be less aggressive. Had nobody supported the young man, one can be certain the policemen would have beaten him mercilessly.

We would be naïve to believe that there has been a drastic change in the behaviour of politicians and policemen or that politicians and policemen will bow down to every protest against their high-handed behaviour. However, we can be certain that people can make a difference when they speak up.