Kaptaan’s grit has finally prevailed. It seems that the political journey of the Sharif’s is coming to an end. On July 28, 2017 five judges of the Supreme Court disqualified the Prime Minister (PM) from leading the nation. Hopefully the much awaited cleansing will continue. Imran Khan, the son of the soil, is well positioned to lead the nation as the 14th PM, provided he is able to unify his party by creating space for the ideologues who built his party into a solid movement for change.

A party of change has to be different otherwise it will be business as usual. There was a time when cricket was controlled by ball tampering and non-neutral umpires. Due to the efforts of the Kaptaan that era is over mainly because of the use of technology. The next challenge is to get rid of ‘ballot tampering’ for the will of the people to prevail.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has to be neutral and equipped with the necessary technology to put on end to this menace. Every vote has to be monitored and then counted. When Shahid Afridi used his teeth on the ball he was caught by the camera and punished. Only such foolproof mechanisms can ensure a credible ballot.

Since 2013, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has been in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhaw (KPK). Pervez Khattak an old political player has been the Chief Minister (CM). Though there have been improvements in certain areas yet the full party potential has not been utilised. As a movement for change PTI had done a lot of homework. There was a Shadow Cabinet and Think Tanks. Policies under the framework of a welfare state had been prepared together with the First 100 days Plan. Names of the Shadow Cabinet and some policy papers were displayed on the party website while the 100 days plan remains unpublished. In order to unite the party the plan must be revisited, updated with consensus and then presented.

Following are the salient features of this First 100 days Plan that was deliberated and approved in a full day marathon session held on July 08, 2011. Eighteen areas of reforms were covered as under:

Sovereignty, jihad against corruption, increase in tax revenue, mobilising overseas Pakistanis, developing infrastructure of the country, devolution of powers to provinces and local bodies, education on war-footing, banishment of VIP culture and austerity, economic development, creating jobs, agricultural revolution, controlling inflation, Balochistan package, a “Healthy ho ga har Pakistani” plan, energy sector reforms, increase water storage capacity, minority rights, and lastly, environment protection.

As education and health are special focus areas for the party, a Committee was formed to review the two, rest of the plan was approved by the core committee. In KPK there has been a partial application of this plan, had it been implemented in totality it would have been a model province by now.

As a reform oriented PM Kaptaan will have to focus on these areas. ‘Naya Pakistan’ is in fact the original Quaid’s Pakistan where nation building was the top priority. Liaquat Ali Khan continued on the same path till his assassination in 1951. Later PM’s like Khawaja Nazimuddin and Hussain Shaheed Suharwady carried on with the same focus.

A party of change has to have an ideological basis otherwise it falls apart. Kaptaan has made a firm commitment to create a welfare state. He has complete support of the ideologues on this front while some of the so-called electables are not too sure about this promise. Lack of resources is sighted as one of the reasons. Experts believe that it can be achieved if it remains a national priority. Example of Sweden is cited whose per capita income was lower than Pakistan when it decided to pursue this challenge, today it is a model welfare state.

Pakistan was perceived as a welfare state by its founding fathers, that is why ‘Naya Pakistan’ has to follow this course. Initially the state should assume responsibility for education, health and employment. The nation has to be educated, healthy and put to work once this is achieved other areas can be added to the list. The focus on justice (insaf) has to continue. Benazir Income Support Fund (BISP) is a good initiative which can be effectively utilised to eliminate hunger from the country. No one should have to sleep hungry at night.

In the only free and fair election of 1970 both ideological parties prevailed. In East Pakistan, Suharwardi’s Awami League swept the polls on the demand of provincial autonomy while Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s People’s Party used the slogan of Roti, Kapra aur Makan (Food, clothing and shelter). PTI will have to set a clear agenda that is understood by the masses. Insaf, Roti and Rozgar can be used to carry the message of a welfare state. The parties First 100 days Plan should also be publicised and then implemented. The nation expects Kaptaan to deliver. With neutral umpires and use of technology ‘ballot tampering’ will be contained and genuine political leadership will emerge. Kaptaan now has to play a ‘Captains’ innings to put Pakistan back on track. Only a credible, clean leadership can deliver ‘Naya Pakistan’ the rogue elements have to be weeded out.

The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.

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