For meaningful course correction, one term of five years is not enough. Had the 2013 elections been free and fair, Imran Khan (IK) would have been the Prime Minister (PM) and Comrade Ahsan Rashid the Chief Minister (CM) of Punjab. Together as a team, they could have delivered as the party Think Tanks had prepared policy frameworks to deliver change. The momentum after the mamoth October 2011 Jalsa in Lahore and December in Karachi was with the ‘Kaptaan’. PTI has faced its fair share of challenges, while in power the PTI has also failed to introduce major reforms in civil service, police, criminal justice system and in support of freedom of the Press — making the PTV, the Radio Pakistan and the APP autonomous has been in vain.
Asif Zardari termed it the election of the ‘Returning Officers’ (RO) while IK demanded the opening of four constituencies for scrutiny. Being an establishment launched party PML-N knows all the tricks of stealing elections and then getting away with it. No other party has been able to achieve this feat. In 1977 Bhutto the most popular leader of his times tried to manipulate the ballot for securing the absolute majority but in the process lost his government and life. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) succeeded in forming a coalition government in 2013, followed by a majority in 2018. In the politically savvy province this happened for the first time, the party in power was given a second term of office for the sake of continuity of reforms.
Next elections in 2023 will be crucial for the much-needed change
So far the ‘Thugs’ have been able to dodge accountability for their misdeeds of the last three decades in power. Massive corruption has taken place since 1985 but the corrupt have escaped conviction thus far. President Farooq Leghari after dismissing the government of his own party in 1996, formed the ‘Ehtesab Bureau’ under Justice (R), Mujadid Mirza, to go after the corrupt elements. Mirza Sahib started with great fanfare but soon realized his limitations. The legendary Justice (R) Fakhar-ud-din J. Ibrahim as interim Law Minister introduced several checks to keep the defaulters out of the electoral contest but when they were given waivers he decided to quit.
PML-N managed to win the elections with an absolute majority and came back with a full vengeance to capture total control of the state apparatus which eventually led to the take over in October 1999. The Sharif Family again succeeded in slipping out after a secret agreement with the dictator. After coming into power in 2018, IK despite his conviction and efforts the results have been mixed mainly because of the electables that surround him, change is not their forte.
In 1970 Bhutto won the elections in West Pakistan on the basis of idealogy and the ideologues who sided with him. His reforms agenda was fully supported by his able team who worked selflessly to deliver change. At the peak of his popularity, he dissolved the assemblies ahead of time and went for a fresh mandate. For his second term, he decided to change the players. Those who had been wiped out by the idealogues in 1970, were now contesting elections on the tickets of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
When the crunch time came he was left alone to fight the establishment onslaught. By contrast, IK built his party with the sweat and blood of Comrades like Ahsan Rashid and Naeem-ul-Haq but came into power with the help of the electables who succeeded in hijacking the party. While IK is committed to change, his team is not. The lack of performance of the electables in his first term will not help in his re-election campaign. He needs fresh untainted faces, the old wine in new bottles has lost its efficacy and will not sell in 2023.
The Think Tanks within PTI were created to build the framework for an Islamic Welfare State on the lines of ‘Riasat-e-Madina’. Comrade Naeem-ul-Haq was tasked by the Chairman to identify the way forward. Considering the meager resources of the nations, three areas were identified by Naeem Sahib which included; Education, Health and Employment. The state was required to cover these areas. Every 5 to 35 year old had to be provided complete coverage by the state and made employable. With the induction of electables in droves after the October 2011 grand show, the focus of the party shifted to elections.
The policies formulated by the ‘Think Tanks’ were ignored.
The protests by the old guard were over-ruled by the Chairman. In 1977 in the quest for a second term, Bhutto moved away from ideologues in favor of the evergreen electables but had to pay a heavy price for this blunder. IK has to carefully plan his agenda and players for his next term as it is vitally important for the future of the country. A fresh start has to be made. Within the party fold, there are star players who were sidetracked to accommodate the electables who have failed to deliver. In 1970 Bhutto promised; ‘Roti, Kapra, Makan’.
IK has shown his firm commitment to build an Islamic Welfare State which has to be revisited with solid policies and plans for implementation. Now that the electables are on the way out, the ‘Think Tanks’ should be in. Important policy papers are already available which can be updated. The people of Pakistan have suffered enough at the hands of the political bounty hunters.
Read more: Why Imran Khan is not a cheat?
Only ideology and idealogues can deliver meaningful change. In the words of Chairman PCB Rameez Raja, it was the youngsters and the fresh blood under the guidance of the Kaptaan that won the World Cup in 1992. Hopefully, the same approach will be adopted by IK to win another term in 2023. Pakistan needed honest able leadership that understands the challenges of the 21st century and is committed to delivering change.