Dr. Farid A Malik
If Lahore does not rise, Pakistan will sink. Takht-e-Lahore was created by Zia’s Askari Lashkar to derail democracy and it has performed to its design. It does not represent the aspirations of the city of change, where Quaid-e-Azam once stood to present the resolution for the creation of an independent homeland for the Muslims of India. As a child growing up on Mall Road I have witnessed and participated in several struggles to preserve our freedom and to ensure a bright future for our coming generations.
In October 1958 at the age of 5 years I stood with my father, the Leaguer, on the Mall near Kims Gun to receive the most popular Muslim League leader of his time, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan. We waited and waited he never made it. Instead he was arrested on the Ravi bridge and taken to the dungeons of Lahore Fort, as Commander-in-Chief Ayub Khan imposed the first Martial Law and sent home the entire elected political leadership of the country. Till today Pakistan has not recovered from this unwanted misadventure by a General, who was superseded by the father of the nation himself.
It was here in November 1967 that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) launched his party at the YMCA Hall on the Mall. ZAB revolted against his political mentor the dictator and tyrant with a resolve to liberate the masses. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) promised ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ (Food, Clothing, Shelter). His was the first ‘Awami Hakumat’ that brought the common man to the corridors of power where his importance was felt.
In order to steer the country out of Zia’s dark ages another crusader launched his movement in the city of change in April 1996. Imran Khan’s (IK) Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) promised to build a society based on justice. His efforts finally paid off when he pulled a massive crowd on October 30, 2011 at the same venue where Quaid presented the resolution for Pakistan in 1940. Overwhelmingly the people of Lahore stood for ‘Naya Pakistan’. On August 14, 1996 it was here that Sardar Farooq Leghari launched his Millat Party (MP) to cleanse politics. Earlier Leghari Sahib had revolted against his own party by dismissing the government of Benazir Bhutto in 1997 on charges of corruption. He established the ‘Ehtesab Bureau’ for accountability of the corrupt politicians. Mian Nawaz Sharif and his PML-N outsmarted himself in the elections. The entire troika of power was dismantled. The Chief Justice (CJP), Army Chief and the President were all sent packing. With absolute majority in the National Assembly Mian Sahib decided to elevate himself to the status of Amir-ul-Mominin or ‘Caliph’ of Pakistan. The Senate led by Comrade Aitzaz Ahsan came to the rescue and the amendment to the Constitution was rejected.
PML-N is a typical political outfit of the Askari Lashkar of Rawalpindi. That is why it has no interest in the welfare of the masses. The basic human development requirements of health and education have no priority for them. Ayub Khan created PML (Convention) with its headquarter on Davis Road Lahore which was named Muslim League House. It then fell into the laps of PML (Pagara) followed by PML-N. Finally when Mian Sahib was captured by the Khakis a new political outfit emerged PML-Q which now controls the building.
All the Rawalpindi conceived political outfits (PML-N, PML-C, PML-F, PML-Q, MQM, MMA etc.) are corrupt to the core and involved in anti-people policies. Power for them is not for service to the masses but for individual benefits and perks. Where people are under nourished resulting in stunted growth, water borne diseases are rampant, state has abandoned its role in health and education sectors, the government of PML-N is focused on building roads and bridges. This insensitivity is appalling. A political party that seeks mandate of the people cannot survive with this approach. Stalin used to say, ‘People who cast ballots control nothing, people who count them control everything’.
Both Lahore based parties (PPP, PTI) started off well before they were taken over by the upper deck politicos who have decided on power politics that has been a domain of Rawalpindi parties. Lahore is the heart and soul of Pakistan, it has to rise to the occasion to liberate the motherland. ZAB was both crowned and deposed in the city of change yet he willed to be buried here. IK is a son of Lahore. He was born and educated here yet he has decided to fight Takht-e-Lahore in Rawalpindi the place of birth of fake Muslim Leagues.
The people of Lahore have always risen for a cause. The ‘Lahore Bachao Tehrik’ successfully saved the trees on the Canal Road and has succeeded in stopping the ill-planned Orange Train Project that threatens the historic sites of the city. Now the democratic future of the country is at stake for which there must be a movement. Free and fair election is the way forward, sanctity of the ballot has to be restored.
In the eighties the PML-N was launched with slogan of ‘Jaag Punjab Jaag’ which has now become stale. The call is now for Pakistan, for which ‘Jaag Lahore Jaag’ is more appropriate. The progressive minds of the city of change have to get together as they did in 1940, 1967, 1970 and October 2011. Politics of power and perks cannot save the country. Major process corrections are required for which no political party or the establishment is ready. We the ordinary people of this enlightened city have to take charge. Once we come on the streets as we did in late sixties we will be able to force another free and fair elections as we were able to do in 1970. The choice is now between ballot or blood. A transition through the ballot is much more peaceful and effective. Our legacy wrests on our moves, if Pakistan has to be saved, Lahore has to rise to spread the ashes of Takht-e-Lahore in the stagnant waters of ‘Budha Ravi’ located next to the Minar-e-Pakistan where the journey had started. Liberation of Lahore will then lead to the liberation of the country under the Constitution and rule of law. History may be in the making.
Dr Farid Malik is a prominent technical and management expert in mining, materials, engineering and high-tech industry; he is a regular columnist with The Nation and Pakistan Today; this piece, was originally published in The Nation, as “Rise Lahore!”. Global Village Space may not necessarily agree with the facts, opinions and analyses given here.