In 1967, as a teenager I stood face to face with a young, dashing and charismatic Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, at the YMCA Hall on the Mall. At that time, the country was being ruled by Ayub Khan and his Muslim-League. Bhutto asked the charged crowd, “Awami ya Sarkari’ where the unanimous chant was ‘Awami’. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), was born that day, as a People’s Movement to challenge the ‘Sarkari’ Muslim League. Since that day, politics in Pakistan have not been the same, where from drawing rooms of the mighty, the discourse reached the public streets and city parks.

While the father of the nation was bestowed with the title of ‘Quaid-e-Azam’, Bhutto was crowned as ‘Quaid-e-Awam’. The youth followed him, while the political heavy weights were not impressed by his progressive ideology. He talked of rights of the down trodden, Islamic Socialism and the famous, Roti/Kapra/Makan. As a foreign minister for Ayub Khan, Bhutto had developed solid credentials both, at the national and international level. Governance was his forte, where his file work and documentation was outstanding. Files were processed and returned within 24 hours. By contrast when Zia perished, heaps of files were retrieved from the president’s office, which were considered missing and abandoned.

As a student activist, we had free access to the Governor’s house, where Khar Sahib personally got involved in the university affairs as the Chancellor. An efficient performance was required from every position of authority, and Cabinet members worked hard to solve people’s problems. It was indeed an ‘Awami’ era, where service to the people was the most important yard stick to measure performance by.

Even though Bhutto ran a very efficient government, perhaps it was his over confidence that led him to go for elections a year ahead of schedule. A trap had been laid for him, where the 1977 elections were disputed and a movement started against him by an opposition alliance, having foreign and local interests. Air Marshal Asghar Khan was one of the leading figures of this resistance that wanted to topple the Quaid-e-Awam at all costs.

In 1970, the Air Marshal launched his political movement called ‘Pakistan Tehrik-e-Istiqlal’. Finally in 2012, he decided to merge his party with ‘Kaptaan’s’ ‘Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf ‘(PTI) as it was in political stagnation. His son Ali Asghar Khan is now a leader of PTI. Air Marshal Sahib and ‘Kaptaan’ have both similarities and differences in their approach in politics; however their leadership style is different from the ‘Quaid-e-Awam’.

In 2005, the Air Marshal published his autobiography with the title of, ‘we have learnt nothing from history’. He accused civil society for our failures and believed that Pakistani’s only vote for corrupt politicians. Despite his honesty, integrity and performance in service, the Air Marshal’s political innings have been very mediocre. His role in the 1977 movement against Bhutto remains controversial, where people believe that he was partly responsible for Zia’s martial law, which proved to be disastrous for the country. He operated in a black and white world, which hardly exists in our times. Once I had the chance of interacting with him on a one to one basis and asked him a direct question, of whether there has ever been a real transfer of power in Pakistan. His answer was yes, with both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif being powerful Prime Ministers.

‘Kaptaan’ earned his credentials as one of the greatest leaders of the cricketing world, where it was under his leadership that Pakistan won the world cup in 1992. He reveres and respects the honesty and integrity of the Air Marshal, but his political innings are shadowed by poor decisions and even poorer selections. Hopefully, he will learn from history and not commit the same mistakes.

By contrast, Bhutto was one of the most astute politicians of the country. His imprints on the politics of Pakistan will be everlasting. Within a short span of three years, his party was able to win 81 out of 138 West Pakistan’s Assembly Seats, with no electable on board to misguide him. In 1971 he took oath the as President of what remained of Quaid’s Pakistan. In 1972 the interim constitution was promulgated, followed by the permanent version in 1973. Moreover, the nuclear programme, fertilizer complexes, steel mills and a Defence Reduction sector were built in his regime.

PPP prospered, till it remained a party of progressive ideology, free from the contamination of turncoats and electable. At the peak of Bhutto’s popularity in 1975, he surrounded himself with sycophants and vested interests. By 1977, his Awami thrust had been completely neutralized, where the so called electable who had lost against his party ideologues in 1970 elections, were now contesting on PPP Party tickets. The ‘Quaid-e-Awam’, was humiliated, cornered, convicted and hanged with no one to fight for him except his wife and daughter, as he had moved away from the ‘awam’ that had brought him into power.

Lack of ideology has hurt democracy, where it was Bhutto’s progressive ideology that propelled him into power and he was able to perform. Electability, honesty and integrity are all good traits, but without an ideological thrust they are in-effective. Jinnah delivered Pakistan on the basis of ideology and strategy. Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Air Marshal Asghar Khan, Zia, Musharraf, Benazir Nawaz and Zardari have all failed because of a lack of ideology. For ‘Kaptaan’ to deliver ‘Naya Pakistan’, he has to follow an ideology of change; otherwise he will go down in history as a political novice. I am sure the ‘Kaptaan’ can do better than that by following the path of leaders like the two Quaids who prevailed, not floundered. Ideology has always prevailed over electability, where it is an established historical fact that it is one of the reasons, why the winners religiously follow this doctrine.