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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Why Pakistan needs course correction?

Pakistan's Islamic Republic requires a major course correction, which has proven to be a difficult task. While the forces of change are fragmented, the status quo's actors are well established. Bhutto's People's Party was able to make a dent in the system during the 1970s, but things have gone sour since then.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan needs a major course correction which has proven to be an uphill task. While the forces of change are disorganized, the players of the status quo are well entrenched. In the decade of the seventies Bhutto’s People’s Party was able to dent the system but after him, it has been downhill. In our times, Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf promised to deliver ‘Naya Pakistan’. With a ‘Theeki Team’ (Tired Team) he tried to reform the system. Despite his ouster from the corridors of power, he is still committed to his cause while the ‘Fasli Bataray’ (Seasonal Birds) have all left him in search of power.

The Muslim Leagues have performed to their design of derailing the democratic order. While the founding party of Pakistan was the All India Muslim League (AIML), all brands of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) have caused more harm than good to our democratic dispensation. In the checkered political history of the republic, only two genuine political parties were launched both in Lahore. In 1967 it was Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and in 1996 Imran’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

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PML is not the founding party of Pakistan as they project

After gaining independence in August 1947, Jinnah tried to streamline the transition of AIML into a national political entity but his efforts were thwarted by vested interests. Finally, he severed his links with the party to concentrate on his state responsibilities. It was Allama Muhammad Iqbal who had convinced Jinnah to accept the presidency of AIML when he stepped down due to failing health. It was Jinnah’s unmatched and outstanding leadership that made the difference. My late father Nazir Ahmed Malik joined AIML in the year 1935, he remained loyal to his party, and never joined any other political outfit. For his services in the freedom movement, he was awarded the prestigious ‘Tehreek-e-Pakistan Gold Medal’ in August 1990.

Though he had serious ideological differences with Red Shirt leaders like Bacha Khan and Wali Khan always praised their steadfastness to their beliefs. PML has become a brand name, always available for sale to the highest bidder. It has turned out to be a collection of interests totally devoid of principles. It has succeeded in infesting all state institutions including the judiciary, law enforcement agencies C and bureaucracy while the struggle to control the armed forces is ongoing. The ‘Cat’ is now out of the bag, the challenge is now how to bell it? While AIML delivered freedom, PML has surrendered it to the ‘Cats’ which now have to be dealt with.

Imran Khan after 22 years of political struggle succeeded in becoming the 22nd Prime Minister (PM) of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. As the firstborn free generation of Pakistan, we are at the twilight of our journey. The baton has to be handed over to the next generation. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has a huge cadre of youth leadership. The Insaf Students Federation (ISF) ably led by Hassam Khan Niazi has recruited and trained youngsters for leadership roles in the future. The plan was to introduce the young and the committed under the guidance of the more experienced Comrades but the electives came in the way. Instead of going after the fat ‘Cats’, the focus of the party changed. Ik himself has the courage and character to go after the ‘Cats’ but his team playing eleven was ill-prepared for this role.

While scores of ideologues were left behind. the ‘Theeki Team’ came in the arena. Instead of change, it looked more of the same. In his election speech as Chief Minister (CM) Hamza Shahbaz thanked the Tarin, Aleem, and Khokar groups. All of them landed where they belonged; “Birds of a feather flock together”. What were they up to in PTI only they know? The experiment badly failed. PML and these groups are defenders of the status-quo, they belong to the ‘Cat’ family

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The emperor has no clothes: From Pakistan’s perspective

In the words of my father, “In the end, it is courage and stamina that counts “.  Unfortunately, the individuals who surround IK today lack both of these vital traits. Omer Sarfraz Cheema an old PTI ideologue has proved his mettle as Governor Punjab. Where Chaudry Sarwar buckled, he stood his ground for the party. Chaudry Sb had held this office before under PML-N. There is nothing to write home about him then and even now. Those who run with the ‘ Hare ‘ and hunt with the ‘Hound’ deliver very little as they have no ideology.

It was part of the PTI manifesto to shut down this ‘Colonial Mansion’ but it did not happen as its occupant resisted the move. The same situation prevailed in Islamabad where IK desired to convert the PM House into a Research Center. Again the task was assigned to a spent force of the past who was unable to deliver. In a recent interview, the legendary Comrade Tariq Ali Khan advised IK to bring in new players if he desired change. He mentioned the name of the Foreign Minister who has held this office under several different regimes. The ‘Cats’ favor their own kind.

The challenge is to be able to bell all these fat ‘Cats’. As their numbers are high, an army of reformers is needed to take them on, corner them and then finally put the bells around their swelled necks for the count to begin. From where will these committed and courageous individuals come? The answer is simple, from within the party rank and file, one must stop looking outside as the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold” and in this case, they have repeatedly failed the test yet such individuals succeed in bouncing back into important positions despite lackluster performances in the past.’ Cats’ within the system favor the ones outside to strengthen their grip overpower. It is time to brand all of them and then push them out to move forward. This ‘Cat and Dog’ show must come to an end for the nation to move forward.

With our major course correction, the republic has no future

The ‘Cats’ will devour us as financial crimes go unpunished in the land of the pure. Perhaps it is for the first time that the majority of the cabinet members including the PM are on bail with cases pending against them in the courts. There is a famous Urdu saying ‘Billi Sher Ki Khala Ha’ (Cat is the Aunt of the Lion). According to the folklore. It was the ‘Cat’ who taught the Lion all the tricks to hunting. One day when the Lion decided to take on its ‘Mentor’ he was surprised to see her climb the tree while he could not. Defeated and disgusted, he decided to leave the country waiting for the opportune time to stage a comeback for the fourth time around.

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For their survival, the Lions are dependent on the ‘Cats’ from whom they have learned all the tricks to derail our freedom. To regain what rightly belongs to the people, there has to be a major course correction for which IK continues to struggle single-handedly. Grand mobilization of Comrades is needed as was done before the free and fair elections in 1970 but this time extreme caution is required to minimize the collateral damage while getting rid of the ‘Cats’ together with their ‘Draculian Fangs’.



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.