| Welcome to Global Village Space

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Quaid-e-Awam vs Kaptaan: ‘Andhi’ can only come from Lahore!

Farid A. Malik |

It was November 1967; I stood face to face with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) at the YMCA Hall on the Mall. Clad in white double breast suit he was beaming with energy. He announced the formal launching of his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). After the launch of all India Muslim League in Decca in 1906, this was the first national party of the country in the formation of which GHQ had no role, by all standards it was an ‘Awami Movement’ of change launched by a real politician. It was a challenge to the establishment politics and its drawing room intrigues.

He challenged the dictatorship of Ayub Khan and its empire building activities. Economic strangulation of the country by the infamous 22 families was exposed. Banks, Insurance, and big business were in a few hands. National self-reliance and defense relied on outside support. There was no steel making for industrial growth nor fertilizer complexes to support agricultural needs. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission was ineffective. For an exploration of energy, oil, and gas development corporation (OGDC) was needed.

Bhutto’s dramatic escape from arrest

Prof. Muhammad Rashid’s family helped revive the future Prime Minister. Roshan Ali, the rickshaw driver, then used the back gate to drive ZAB to safety.

The first public meeting was planned for Nasir Bagh or Gol Bagh as it was called then. The trap had been laid to capture him half dead. The park was flooded with water to keep the public away and the stage was wired with live electricity. Bhutto ‘Jiyalas’ (Lovers) braved all obstacles to listen to the fresh voice of change. When ZAB got up to address the crowd he was electrocuted and fell on the stage. Before the intelligence agents could grab him, Roshan Ali, a rickshaw driver grabbed him and whisked him away on his three wheeler. Sensing arrest he entered Government College, which was in the vicinity. As it was evening time, the Principal’s residence was alight while the college was in darkness.

Prof. Muhammad Rashid was away, his family helped revive the future Prime Minister. Roshan Ali then used the back gate to drive ZAB to safety. The establishment plan failed. Prof. Rashid was summoned by the Secretary Education, seriously reprimanded and then transferred from the prestigious post of Principal of the prime institution of the country. The movement for democracy spread like a wild forest fire and the mighty Ayub Khan was forced to step down in 1969. In the elections that followed in 1970, Bhutto won 81 seats out of 138 in the Western wing.

Bhutto’s political capital and his mistake

By 1975 ZAB reached the peak of his performance and popularity. At this stage, he decided to befriend the establishment and alienate the political opposition

Bhutto was a public man. He could communicate and interact with all segments of the society. He was a political strategist and a visionary leader who understood the importance of Lahore and wished to be buried here. His party was launched here and the city remained a PPP bastion for a long time till ‘Takht-e-Lahore’ was created to manipulate the electoral process and neutralize his popularity.

Read more: 93,000 Pakistani soldiers did not surrender in 1971 because….?

His style of governance and paperwork was immaculate. The Baboos could not befool him Questions were asked on the files which had to be answered. By 1975 ZAB reached the peak of his performance and popularity. At this stage, he decided to befriend the establishment and alienate the political opposition. He surrounded himself with electable and big names against whom he had launched his movement in the sixties. Hanif Ramay, the socialist Chief Minister, was replaced by Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi, a feudal from Multan, who then got himself elected unopposed in the 1977 elections.

Kaptaan’s political inning

Kaptaan played his professional innings in the Cricket fields. He kept himself away from public eye and in the process became a loner. With just a handful of friends, he became very protective of his private life. He was raised and educated in Lahore, the political capital of the country, yet preferred to live in Islamabad the barren land of politics. Like ZAB he leads from the front but he neither has the support of ‘Jiyalas’ nor the detailed game plans of thinkers like Dr. Mubashir Hasan.

The recent protest in Islamabad was ill-planned and very poorly implemented and so was the long march and dharna in 2014.

Kaptaan uses cricketing strategy in building his team and does not believe in deep thinking or paperwork. At the end of the day, I am sure he retires as a peaceful man and enjoys a sound night’s sleep, is trusting, upright and honest with very little in-depth analysis. He leads a very basic and simple life with a major focus on physical fitness and exercise.

Read more: What Imran Khan achieved in Lahore and why?

PPP always had a fulltime Secretary General while Kaptaan’s PTI has been running without one. Comrade Mairaj Muhammed Khan tried to run the party on a sound organizational basis but was frustrated and finally left. The Inter Party Elections were another disaster from which the Tehrik has not recovered. PTI was the first political movement to have shadow cabinets and think tanks. By October 2011 it had all the ingredients to deliver change and build ‘Naya Pakistan’. By the time the caravan of comrades moved to Karachi in December 2011 everything had changed.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto vs Imran Khan

ZAB was cornered by the usual status-quo players in about four years (1971 to 1975). He had time to stamp his political legacy which is now everlasting. By contrast, Kaptaan’s movement was hijacked in just 56 days (October 30, 2011, to December 25, 2011). Bhutto had to pay dearly for his mistakes. He was executed in the Chaklala prison before dawn on April 04, 1979 and was quietly buried in his hometown Larkana. There is a mausoleum there to preserve his political legacy.

Kaptaan lives away from home in the company of political turncoats. His mother is buried in Lahore not too far from, his Zaman Park home, while his father is resting in peace in his native town Mianwali from where he has been elected. A homecoming is long overdue. The son of the city has to lead from where ZAB left a progressive, democratic Pakistan.

According to Inzamam-ul-Haq, there was an ‘Andhi’ (storm ) in the team which led to the world cup victory in 1992. Bhutto also came with an ‘Andhi’ in the seventies which was unstoppable. A similar ‘Andhi’ was blowing on October 30, 2011, which was capable of tearing the status-quo apart but it subsided when PML-Q rescue squad was called in which never left.

Dr. Farid Malik is a prominent technical and management expert in mining, materials, engineering and high-tech industry; he is a regular columnist for The Nation and Pakistan Today.He is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.