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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Real Prime Minister of Pakistan

Insulating Pakistan from the spillover of US defeat in Afghanistan and extending a hand of friendship with Russia cost Imran Khan his premiership. This time another alliance of diverse parties was put together called PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement). Despite being removed from power IK remains the most popular leader of his time.

On April 10, 2022, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif (SS) took oath as the 23rd Prime Minister (PM) of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Perhaps he is the first PM whose name is listed in the ‘Siasi Basta B’ (Register of Bad Characters) as such he has been called the ‘Crime Minister’ instead of PM. The term of the assembly is five years, yet no PM has been able to survive that long. Amongst this herd of politicians, only three PMs stand out as real and in control. Nawab Zada Liaquat Ali Khan s/o Nawab Rustam Ali Khan as the first PM (1947 to 1951) proved his mettle as an honest and selfless leader who refused to sign on the dotted line during his visit to the United States.

He was assassinated in a Jalsa in Rawalpindi in October 1951; the place has since been named Liaquat Park in memory of the fallen leader. The republic fell on bad times when the conspirators took control of the levers of power, for short-term gains freedom was compromised. The net result was a ‘Satellite State’ that started to take dictation from the foreign masters. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto s/o Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto was the ninth PM (1973 to 1977) who tried to win back the lost sovereignty.

Read more: Anatomy of Pakistan’s chronic political instability

ZAB emerged as the most popular leader in the Islamic World

It was under his leadership that the country attained the status of an Islamic Republic. The Nuclear Programme was also launched under his vision and direction. He moved the country out of the British Common Wealth of Nations, and also withdrew the international treaties like SEATO and SENTO. An international conspiracy was hatched against him. A rag-tag political alliance of nine parties (Pakistan National Alliance) was cobbled together to corner the most popular leader of his time. Finally, he was eliminated through a judicial murder on April 04, 1979. His Pakistan People Party (PPP) has survived his physical elimination as his legacy stays alive today.

After suffering in the political wilderness, finally, Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi s/o Ikramullah Khan Niazi took oath as the twenty-second PM (2018 to 2022) in August 2018. Imran Khan (IK) like the two real PMs before him tried hard to regain the lost sovereignty of his nation.

Unlike his other predecessors, he started to take decisions in the best national interests. Insulating Pakistan from the spillover of US defeat in Afghanistan and extending a hand of friendship with Russia cost him his premiership. This time another alliance of diverse parties was put together called PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement). Despite being removed from power IK remains the most popular leader of his time.

Honest and upright he brings ethical conduct to politics. By pulling out his party from the parliament it has now become totally irrelevant. For future political direction, it is important to discuss the conduct of these real leaders who made a difference and earned a legacy of service to the nation.

Read more: PTI Karachi jalsa to be screened across Pakistani cities

Liaquat Ali Khan came from a landed background

He was well educated. After studying at Aligarh University, he went on to study at Oxford which is one of the top educational institutions in the world. His entry into politics was for a noble cause. The objective was to serve his people not to grow personally. Despite leaving a huge estate behind in India, he did file any claims and donated his personal property in New Delhi to the Pakistan High Commission. When asked about his personal dwelling, he replied that he will build one after every Pakistani has been settled in the new land. After his untimely death the family fell on hard times and till today remains unsettled in the land of the pure.

Bhutto also came from the landed family of Sindh. Like the first PM, he was well educated. Went to the top universities of the world (University of California at Berkeley, Oxford). After obtaining a degree in law he started teaching in a college in Karachi from where he was picked up by President Iskander Mirza to join his cabinet. Then there was no looking back. As Foreign Minister, he established links with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). After the 1965 war debacle, he parted ways with the President and launched his own political outfit in 1967 which he named the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) it was the first such entity after the launching of the All India Muslim League (AIML) in 1906.

There may be ideological differences in his political outlook yet he served his nation well. Basic industrialization was carried out during his regime together with the formulation of the 1973 unanimous constitution that continues to protect democracy and the federation. He was pressurized to hold back on the Nuclear Programme. On his refusal, he was pushed out of the arena but his legacy lives on despite the dents created by Zardari who inherited his progressive party through marriage.

Imran Khan also comes from a well-respected family of Mianwali

His father was a graduate of the famous Imperial College London. After taking early retirement from government service due to differences with the then Governor Amir Ahmed Khan, started his own engineering consulting business which continued till his death. Imran also studied at Oxford where he played cricket as well. Became a national hero when he led his team to a great World Cup victory in 1992. He then built the state-of-the-art Shaukat Khanum Hospital in memory of his mother. With the help of his able cousin Dr. Nausherwan Burki two new such facilities are nearing completion in Karachi and Peshawar. In 1996 he launched his political party called Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

In 2018 he became the PM to be removed in April 2022. IK went fighting and continues with his crusade for the sovereignty of his motherland. Though his life is threatened yet he continues to march on with all his strength, the people are solidly behind him. He served his country with honesty and dedication, there may be concerns about the performance of his team but his personal credibility remains above board.

There are lessons to be learned from the innings of these three real PMs. All of them were genuinely elected through free and fair elections and remained popular till the end. There were no cases of corruption against any one of them. All came from educated families with sound financial backgrounds. They came forth to serve not to plunder. Did not build their family empires or usurp public properties. Pakistan deserves such honest leadership to regain and then defend its compromised freedom.

Read more: Pakistan’s new govt may have to end fuel, power subsidies

Pakistan desperately needs another free and fair election 

Instead of being part of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) nations, the compromised political leadership of the past signed unfavorable treaties with distant powers. Pakistan and its people must come first as was seen during the challenge against Covid-19 Pandemic. Thank God the country came out with flying colours due to solid professional handling by experts together with the vision of the leadership.

In 1977 PNA movement ruined both the country and its fledgling democracy. In the year 022 PDM is taking the country into a dark alley with the support of their foreign masters. Any attempt to rig the much-needed electoral contest will be disastrous. The will of the people must prevail for the republic to move forward as an independent sovereign state operating in the best national interests. It is time to look inwards to build on our strengths not outwards for help as it always comes with strings. An upright and genuinely elected PM is the need of the hour which can no longer be delayed or overlooked.




The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at fmaliks@hotmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.