Why Kaptaan? The answer is ‘Naya pakistan’. As Prime Minister (PM) he will have to deliver on his promise otherwise he will not only lose his popularity but also his office. It is not a small undertaking. Kaptaan is inspired by ‘Riyasat-e-Madina’ the first welfare state of the world. In 1970 in the first and only free and fair election, Bhutto won on his manifesto of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ while Mujib offered provincial autonomy. Both leaders met tragic ends with dismemberment of Quaid’s Pakistan, end results were disastrous for them and the country.
The slogan seems to be shifting from ‘Naya to Aik Pakistan’, which is indeed interesting. The differences between the two have to be understood. ‘Aik Pakistan’ can be achieved by bridging the gap between the privileged and deprived segments of the society while ‘Naya Pakistan’ requires a major overhaul of the existing system. The colonial setup was not designed to serve, it has to be dismantled not polished to improve its appearance. Only four countries have continued with this regressive approach of governance (Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) which has contained their development and growth.
In the murky politics of Pakistan, Kaptaan’s credibility stands out. Personally he is clean but the individuals who surround him and control his party are not which are raising serious doubts about his ability to deliver. Serious objections have been raised in the award of party tickets for the upcoming elections. The committee members were not neutral, they awarded tickets to themselves and their family members. Kaptaan is right in saying that he has not awarded tickets to his friends and family members, but who is required to check the conduct of the award committee? By contrast Pakistan Sarzameen Party (PSP) had a neutral committee that selected the candidates strictly on merit based on the credentials of the applicants, there were no personal interests of the members.
The 20th century was shaped by three major revolutions (Bolshevik 1917, Chinese 1949 and Iranian 1978). Despite all the inequalities, the current century has not seen another upheaval yet. Political activists are celebrating fifty years anniversary of the students uprising of 1968 that toppled several governments worldwide including Ayub Khan’s dictatorship in Pakistan. Myths have been challenged in the past, the opium hooked Chinese under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung revolted against the dictator so did the relaxed Iranians and the docile Kashmiris.
Pakistan too has been at the edge several times. People’s mandate did prevail in 1970 elections but Quaid’s country was dismembered. The lawyers and civil society movement in 2007 had the potential of turning the tables on the entrenched status-quo but it faltered at the finish line. Instead of surrounding the dictator the long marchers reached the parliament house from where they were asked to disperse and go home. The dictator later left the Presidency after the elections but with a guard of honour. Judges were restored but the movement fizzled out. It was business back as usual, exploitation and injustice continues unabated till today.
After wasting forty years as a nation (1977 to 2017), the stakes are high for the electoral contest in 2018. The mass support for Kaptaan is conditional not open ended that is why fingers are being raised at his team selection. Kaptaan understood the game of cricket and was able to pick up a winning team, in case of Shaukat Khanum and Namal College he has relied mostly on professionals in their respective fields. In politics he is fast establishing his credentials. Hazrat Ali (R.A.) was once asked about the turmoil during his caliphate, prompt came the reply, Caliphs before him had better advisors which included himself. In other words he passed part of the blame on the people who advised and surrounded him.
‘Naya Pakistan’ cannot be built with the conventional approach, ‘Aik’ may be tried but not ‘Naya’ that is why there is an attempt to shift the rhetoric. Certainly Kaptaan has the capacity and credentials to introduce the much needed change but the people do not trust the tried and failed politicians who have now positioned themselves as electables.
During the formative years of cricket in Pakistan, Hanif Muhammad had to carry the bat till the end as there was no one to hold the innings together. To save the match he batted for days till he could stand on the pitch and rightly earned the title of ‘Little Master’. With the political team that ‘Kaptaan’ has picked up he will have to play the Hanif’s innings and carry the bat till the end. It is because of these players he has to take u-turns to correct the situation. Tickets were awarded and then withdrawn, names of caretakers were suggested and then dropped, it clearly shows lack of seriousness and home work by his team, in the end he had to bat to save the match. So far Kaptaan has been a winner in all fields mainly because of his leadership and team selection. Inzamam’s batting and Wasim’s bowling brought home the world cup. Shaukat Khanum is ably managed by Dr. Faisal Sultan and so is Namal College under Dr. Abbas Chaudhry. Who has the stamina to bat on the political pitch of change with Kaptaan is not clear as it may be a long laborious inning for which the players have to be battle hardened which they are not.
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation.