Comrade Ahsan Rasheed passed away on November 25, 2014, his funeral prayers were arranged the next day on November 26, 2014. He was a founder member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and played a key role in building the party at the grass-root level. A large number of party loyalists were there to bid farewell to the man who had selflessly and honesty served the movement. PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Punjab President Ejaz Chaudhry, General Secretary Dr Yasmin Rashid, Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed and other party leaders expressed grief and prayed for the departed soul. Imran Khan arrived just before the prayers and was surrounded by the party workers.
In the tradition of Comrades, I carried a party flag to spread o
n his wreath. He had certainly earned a hero’s send-off for his final journey. With the permission of his family, I draped his ‘Janaza’ with the party flag. He was buried in the Cavalry Ground graveyard not too far away. When I was returning to my car, I was offered a ride by Mian Sahib who had come all the way from Multan to be there. On the way, I mentioned to him that the party idealogues should continue the struggle for change but he was not sure. In his words, ” Party had been taken over by the Ganay Kay Juice Wala” (People who extract sugar cane juice).
How comrade’s death affects PTI?
They were the same people who had conspired to push out Comrade Ahsan from the party and then teamed up to ensure his defeat in the electoral contest in 2013. Perhaps he was the last man in PTI standing against the ‘Ganay Kay Juice Walay’ (GJW). While the other two mainstream parties (PML-N, PPP) were in the grip of GJW, now the third hope of the people fell into the same trap. Another old party guard Comrade Naeem-ul-Haq kept close to the Prime Minister (PM) till the end of his time.
As Special Assistant to the PM, he was a link between the party and the executive authority, after his demise even that relief was lost. He operated from the PM Secretariat, keeping close to the Chairman. When GJW tried to take his place, they were exposed causing their downfall. The party has still not recovered from this unholy onslaught that was mainly responsible for stalling the much-needed change. They can now take their ‘Ganay’ and its ‘Juice’.
PTI was the first political party that organized ‘Think Tanks’ which worked under the guidance of Comrade Ahsan Rashid Sahib. Policies were formulated and then presented to the Chairman. Lively discussions were held to improve and then finalize them. A sixteen-member ‘Shadow Cabinet’ was also announced that had four individuals holding doctorate degrees, it was perhaps the ablest team ever that was focused on delivering the party vision of building a ‘Welfare State’ on the lines of ‘Riasat-e-Madin’. Comrade Naeem was tasked to identify broad parameters of such a state. Considering the limited resources of the country, he identified three starting areas: Education, Employment, Health. Youth
between the ages of 5 to 35 were to be under the tutelage of the state to steer them towards productive careers. The potential of the young was identified to build the nation by equipping them with the appropriate 21st-century skills.
When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) won big in West Pakistan with the active support of the progressives he announced the end of the road for politics of ‘Mirs, Pirs, Sains’ but little did he know that the ‘Tajirs and Juicers’ would push out the ‘ Progressive Ideologues ‘ from the political arena. ZAB was trapped in the end, while IK started his innings with the undesirables. He tried to build ‘Naya Pakistan’ with the old players who were responsible for the decline of the ‘Old Pakistan’. Now that the countdown has started against the ‘ Juicers ‘ within the party fold, it is still not too late. Leaders and nations can learn from their mistakes.
As the famous proverb says, “It is better late than never”
For the ideologues, there is no going back to the old ways. I totally disagree with the opposition that people are longing for the ‘Old Pakistan’ to return. As a nation, we have to move forward but with new players not the same old and tried ‘Rogues’. While ‘Wine’ gains value with seasoning, ‘Juice’ gets stale and has to be dumped. The stalemate that the land of the pure faces today is mainly because of this expired and out-of-date’ Ganay Ka Juice’ that is being served to the masses by all the main political parties.
While ZAB had to face the ‘Mirs, Pirs, Sains’, IK has dealt in addition with ‘Tajirs and Juicers’ making his task even more difficult. Only progressive ‘Comrades’ like Ahsan and Naeem Sb can deliver meaningful change. ‘Juicers’ will continue to juice unless cornered and pushed out of the. ‘Sugar Cane Politics’ is no longer sweet for the nation. It is time to consider other options for sweetening the pallets of the people at an affordable cost. Stevia is gaining popularity as a replacement for the ‘Sweet Gold’ that only crowns the ‘Sugar Barons’ who then exploit the intoxicated. GJW’s did push out the old guard but now they are on their way out. Hopefully, in the second term of IK, the Comrades will be back to deliver the much needed change.
The writer is an Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.