The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (IRP) has been bracing for change ever since it came into existence on August 14, 1947. First, it was the father of the nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah who tried followed by the founding Prime Minister (PM) Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan. After the assassination of the PM in 1951, the slide started which continues unabated till today. However, the quest for freedom has continued despite the cohesion of the state apparatus. In the late sixties, it was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) who parted ways with his mentor Ayub Khan and challenged the rule of the first usurper of the republic.
In November 1967 Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was launched in Lahore as a progressive movement for democracy and change. In October 1968 when the dictator decided to celebrate his decade of progress which for the majority was more of decadence, street protests started all over the country. By March 1969, the Ayub era came to an end, followed by elections in 1970. Rest is history as they say. While Bangladesh emerged on the world map, ZAB picked up the pieces of what remained of Quaid’s Pakistan.
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The transition to real freedom started in both wings of the original Pakistan
ZAB had prevailed in the 1970 electoral contest with the help of the ‘Progressives’. The ‘Comrades of Change’ were on his team. In Lahore, Dr. Mubashir Hasan polled the highest number of votes. The ‘Sarkari Muslim League’ had to bite the dust. Under the leadership of a popularly elected PM, hope was in the air. ZAB moved fast, in the year 1972 an interim constitution was promulgated with the lifting of Martial Law. Work started on a permanent version of the document. On August 14, 1973, a constitutional republic emerged under an elected PM. While Bhutto’s party was in power at the center and two provinces (Punjab, Sindh) Balochistan and KPK (NWFP) were ruled by a coalition of Wali Khan’s National Awami Party and Mufti Mahmood’s Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam.
While the democratic order was taking roots, the negative forces of the status quo started to regroup and succeeded in surrounding the PM. One by one the ‘Comrades of Change’ were sidelined. Progressives like Dr. Mubashir and Mairaj Muhammad Khan were out of the cabinet. In 1975, ZAB dismissed the provincial governments of the opposition followed by military action in Balochistan. It proved to be the beginning of the end of an era of democracy and freedom. In early 1977 when the PM dissolved the assemblies to seek a fresh mandate his team consisted of those very individuals against whom he had waged a valiant struggle for change.
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The party idealogues were either out of the party or sidelined and ignored. When the crunch time came ZAB was isolated with no one to fight for him or his cause except for his wife and daughter, the ‘Political Bounty Hunters’ had abandoned him. The forces of status quo were back in the driver’s seat while the Quaid-e-Awam rotted in his death cell. The ‘ Zia Dark Ages ‘ that started on July 05, 1977, continue to haunt the nation today.
On October 30, 2011, the ‘Soldiers of Change’ regrouped at the Minar-e-Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan (IK) the son of the soil. Hope for change and freedom was re-kindled. When the caravan of hope arrived at the Mazar-e-Quaid on December 25, 2011, the team had been changed. Instead of ‘Comrades of Change’ IK was surrounded by ‘Stalwarts of Status-quo’. While ZAB entered the office of the PM with the progressives, IK was seriously handicapped as on his team were several retrogressive, those who had been in the corridors of power before but delivered nothing worth mentioning, their track record was poor.
While IK talked about his experts in the party, the ‘Political Mercenaries’ around him made sure that they were kept away. Now that the chips are down, IK has decided to reach out to the ‘Comrades of Change’ with whom he had started his political struggle. Hopefully, some lessons have been learned. While ZAB never got a second chance, IK has managed to get one with his popularity on the rise. His ‘Azadi March’ has large-scale public support. With the public trust, his chances to stage a comeback are bright.
Allama Iqbal the national poet idealized his legendary bird ‘Shaheen’ (Falcon) for its ability to fly high
He compared it with the low-flying scavengers like the Vultures and the Crows who feed on the dead. They operate in different worlds. A Crow once decided to give a tough time to the Shaheen by sitting on his back. Un-fettered the Shaheen reached his heights which were out of reach for the Crow, finally, the scavenger had no option but to retreat to be back amongst the dead where he belonged, could not keep pace with Iqbal’s legend of the skies.
Even strong resistive winds cannot lower the flight of ‘Shaheen’ as he is destined to reach heights. Indeed it is also a test of the leader, ‘Theri Rehabari Ka Sawal Ha’ (It is a test of your leadership). The person on the top can make the difference by selecting the low or high-flying team members, Falcons for change, or the Vultures for status-quo the choices are clear.
The fate of the 220 million Pakistanis hangs in the balance. In a world driven by technology only change is permanent which has been denied to the people in the land of the pure. The enemy is within, there is negativity in the system that must be removed not ignored as has been the case in the last 75 years. Structural, not cosmetic changes are required. While ZAB tried in the decade of the seventies, IK is currently leading the charge. In the words of the Allama, Kargas ka Jahan aur ha, Shaheen ka Jahan aur ha. Jahan-e-Taza ‘ (Fresh World) is needed as Hazar aur Mujud (Present and Available) has failed to deliver.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.