All India Muslim League was formed on December 30, 1906 at Dacca with its headquarters in Lucknow. It was soon transformed into a political force. On March 23, 1940 the Lahore resolution was passed followed by the partition of the Indian Sub-Continent on August 14, 1947. Pakistan People’s party (PPP) was formed on November 30, 1967 at Lahore by Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttoo (ZAB). Incidentally, I was there at the YMCA hall on the Mall Road that day where I had gone to play table tennis.

ZAB asked a charged crowd ‘Awami ya Sarkari?’ The over whelming response was ‘Awami’. A movement was launched that day which had to be converted into a political force. The slogan of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ attracted the progressive left into the fold. Party offices were opened at the mohalla and village levels. The black, green and red flags were hoisted all over the country. The message was driven loud and clear, black for backwardness, green for Islam and red for revolution. In his public gatherings there were inscriptions saying ‘East is Red’. In the very first free and fair elections of 1970, PPP won 81 out of 138 West Pakistan assembly seats and emerged as a political force.

The bureaucrat turned politician J.A. Rahim as Secretary General of party ran the set-up very efficiently. Then there were un-tainted comrades like Dr. Mubashir Hassan, Dr. Ghulam Hussain, Sheikh Rashid (Baba-e-Socialism) Mairaj Muhammed Khan, Mukhtar Rana, Mahmood Ali Kasuri, Abdul Hafiz Pirzada, Hayat Sherpao, Haq Nawaz Gandapur, Hanif Khan, Abdul Hafiz Kardar, Mairaj Khalid, Khurshid Hassan Mir, Raja Anwar, Aitzaz Ahsan, Dr. Ashrat Abbassi, the list goes on.

In 1970 after a very illustrious career in the Air Force, Air Marshal Asghar Khan launched his political party called Tehrik-e-Istiqlal (TI). At one time the Air Marshal was the second most popular leader behind ZAB. He was elected in the 1977 elections, the first to be held under the 1973 constitution. Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) of which his party was an important component decided to launch a movement against rigging. He took a very rigid stand and was unwilling to a negotiated settlement with ZAB. His letter to the then Army Chief asking him to intervene derailed the entire democratic order. Zia out smarted all the politicians including the Air Marshal. Only PPP emerged as a party of resistance. When Zia postponed the elections in 1979 the Air Marshal decided to take on the dictator and was imprisoned. Perhaps, it was too little and too late, his party never recovered from this misjudgment. Most heavy weights deserted him including Nawaz Sharif the current Prime Minister. Finally in January 2012 he ended his political innings by merging his party with Kaptaan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI).

In the nineties two political parties were launched. After resigning as President of Pakistan, Sardar Farooq Leghari formed his Millat Party with head quarters in Lahore. Leghari Sahib was a very well read individual. He usually mentioned that PPP was the only party after the Muslim League that transformed into a political force rest never made it. In 2002, elections his party emerged as the third largest group with 12 national assembly seats but unfortunately he could not hold his party together and finally it emerged with PML-Q the party in power.

He was an educated and decent individual but his political innings had a tragic ending. After dismissing the government of his own party he landed in political wilderness. Benazir Bhutto (BB) never pardoned him. Then he decided on political cleansing with full backing of the Khakis. He formed the Ehtesab Bureau under a retired judge and decided to strictly enforce the constitution. Loan, tax and utility defaulters were being debarred from contesting the elections. Fearing PPP victory he allowed re-scheduling of loans paving the way for a PML-N landslide.

Since the fifties Muslim League has been a mistress of the establishment, being a League child it is a very painful truth. PML-N, PML-Q, PML-F, PML-J, PML (Like Minded), PML-C, PML-Zia etc. were all launched by the establishment. PML-N is now a disgruntled and estranged keep.

Its strength lies in control of the administrative machinery of the largest province of the country and seriously lack street power. When Nawaz government was toppled in 1999 there were no protests. He had to beg for his life and went into exile to Saudi Arabia under a Saudi Royal brokered agreement. He and his brother were unable to return. Finally BB came to their rescue and the Sharif Brothers returned.

Kaptaan’s PTI was the second political party to be formed in the nineties (April 25, 1996). Unlike Farooq Leghari, he refused to merge or collaborate with PML-Q and kept his struggle on. Like ZAB he has emerged as the most popular leader of our times. His party is the symbol of change and the only challenge to the entrenched status quo. Minto Park or Minar-e-Pakistan as it is called now has been a major play ground of the nation. Resolution for Pakistan was passed here in 1940 and within seven years a new country emerged on the world map.

The momentum lasted for eleven years when the founding party and its leaders were sent home (1947 to 1958). In 1971, it was here that ZAB bid farewell to the Eastern Wing of the country. He ruled over the Western part till 1977 when he was toppled and then physically eliminated but his party and ideology survived. On Jan 05, 2016 ‘Jialas’ celebrated his 88th birth anniversary. On October 30, 2011, Kaptaan announced his dream of building ‘Naya Pakistan’ at the same venue. By December 25, 2011 after only (56 days) the movement got hijacked. A massive PML-Q splinter hit PTI hard and shattered its basic fiber. From a movement, it turned into a monopoly. PML-Q has already consumed the other party of the nineties and its powerful leader Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari. This PML-Q splinter is in the way of transforming PTI from a party into a political force and may cause its ultimate demise.

For long term sustainability a party has to be converted into a political force otherwise it perishes. Political graveyards are full of such parties with Millat Party of Farooq Leghari and Tehrik-e-Istiqlal of Air Marshal as prime examples. ZAB’s PPP has survived because it was an Awami Party with structure and ideological base. It too was hit by a faction of PML but it survived due to struggle and sacrifice of its founders while the opportunists moved onto greener pastures. The nation is longing for change, which seems inevitable. Kaptaan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ gives them hope as did ZAB’s ‘Awami Pakistan in the seventies. It is time to bury establishment politicians of all kinds and types no matter which faction of PML they belong to. Democracy has been kept hostage by these self centered and Sarkari Leaguers whose only mission in life is to seek power and build their empires.

Pakistan was envisioned as a constitutional democracy where rule of ballot was to prevail and that is the only way forward in the 21st century. All India Muslim League delivered Pakistan when it transformed into a political force under the leadership of the Quaid. PPP under the comradeship of ZAB succeeded in formulating the 1973 constitution which continues to protect the democratic order. In order to deliver ‘Naya Pakistan’ PTI has to be transformed into a movement by the Kaptaan otherwise it too will perish like Leghari Sahib’s Millat Party or Air Marshals Tehrik-e-Istiqlal.