The movement for Pakistan started at Decca in 1906 when the All India Muslim League was formed, it reached Punjab 34 years later where the Lahore Resolution was passed here in 1940. There is a famous saying; “Chartay Suraj ki Puja” (Bow before the Rising Sun). My late father the Muslim League often repeated this phrase when the party became a mistress of the establishment. Historically speaking when the intruders entered the Indian Sub-continent from the North, they met no resistance till the field of Panipat.
The Capital Delhi had to fight its own battle to survive. Some people are of the opinion that like the Americans, the Punjabis do not side with the losers. Winning at all costs counts in the end. Clinging on to power and prestige is important. The hunt for the winning horse is unending. There is a famous Punjabi saying; “Even the goofs of the people who have grains are smart” (Jena dey khar danay aunah day kamlay whi sianay).
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Bhutto’s famous slogan
In November 1967, when Bhutto announced his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) at the YMCA Hall on the Mall, his slogan of ‘Roti, Kapra Makan’ was very catchy. He challenged the dictator with strength and boldness. Despite attempts on his life he marched on. With young activists like Mustafa Khar and Hanif Ramay on his side, he won the hearts of the people. Lahore turned into a bastion of his movement against unequal distribution of wealth. He blamed the 22 families for skimming the resources of the nation which he promised to share. With the fall of the dictator in March 1969, he emerged as the most popular leader of the Western Wing.
Hope for the suffering masses was rekindled. He came into power with the overwhelming support of Punjab. In order to neutralize the influence of Bhutto’s party, Nawaz Sharif was launched by Zia in 1985 with the full support of the establishment. The ‘Jiyalas’ were imprisoned in the dungeons of the Lahore Fort while jobs, plots, permits were freely distributed amongst the supporters of the ‘Sarkari League’.
A new winning combination was created based on the plunder of national assets. Benazir Bhutto despite clear popular support in 1988 was denied the slot of Chief Minister (CM) Punjab. The ‘Sarkari Leagues’ (PML-N, PML-Q, PML-Wattoo) have ruled over the province since 1985. Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi was the last PPP CM of Punjab who was unfortunately not in touches with the public like Khar and Ramay Sb were.
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Did we get a ‘Naya Pakistan’ as we were promised?
Even in the current arrangement in the province Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party in power has limited influence. In his mamoth ‘Jalsa’ in October 2011 at Minar-e-Pakistan, Imran Khan promised to build ‘Naya Pakistan’. His mandate was stolen in the 2013 contest, but he managed to come into power in 2018. People of Punjab saw the light in the rays of the new sun but were disappointed to see the oldies around him. The Governor, Speaker, CM have all been around the sun he is trying to set. To a large extent the Sharifs dominate till today, Takht-e-Lahore remains intact mainly due to their deep influence in the bureaucracy while the legislature is in the control of the Speaker, the Governor is neither here nor there.
Without the full support of the administrative machinery and the assembly, delivery remains weak. While the ‘Sarkari Leagues’ CMs had a free hand to run the province and serve their constituency to win support and loyalty, the PTI CM does not enjoy that control over the bureaucracy or the legislature. Merit continues to be the biggest casualty. The sun continues to shine for the favorites of the previous regimes while people at large continue to suffer. During her election campaign in Lahore, Dr. Yasmin Rashid the current health minister discovered several no-go areas in the constituency which remain intact even today. While ‘Gullu Butt’ was shown on the TV screens during the Model Town massacre many of his likes continue to operate in the city.
From the fake Platelet Counts to the blackmail of Justice Arshad Malik, PML-N continues to defy the state. Only the mid-night escape of Shahbaz Sharif was prevented otherwise he would have joined his run-away gang in London.
Rule of law must prevail for Pakistan to move forward
In the colonial era, ‘Sun never set on the British Empire’ which is why they had the complete support of the ‘Toadies of Punjab’. In the fertile land of the five rivers, opportunities are endless, fresh glacier water flows through the land and the sun shines. On both sides of the border, Punjab is the food basket. The bounties of nature have to be shared not usurped by a few through loot and plunder. Those who indulge in thuggery must be punished. Cases against the corrupt must reach a verdict. Those who seek justice never cause delays or change their lawyer’s midstream, only the guilty use this tactic to gain time.
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Every rising sun shines with hope but when the ‘Thugs’ getaway, people start admiring their guts, it becomes a way of life. Sun must set on the unscrupulous for its rays to evenly spread on the land and its people. As the largest province of the federation, Punjab has to play its role for which it needs the light of the sun not the salutes of the compromised. Tagore wrote about the setting sun, “The Sun was gathering its rays like a miser”, our misery calls for the recovery of our looted wealth otherwise we will have to carry the begging bowl forever while chanting, “Allah kay Nam”.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.