Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in his book, ‘If I am assassinated,’ gave one of the reasons for his imprisonment as his efforts to bridge the gap between the poor and rich. His agenda of Islamic Socialism was built on the slogans of Roti Kapra aur Makan (food, clothes and housing). Though Bhutto was able to mesmerise masses with his style of politics, apart from ruining the entire socio-economic system through nationalisation, he did nothing tangible to reduce the gap between the rich and poor. By the time his contentious second term began, he had side-lined most of his socialist entourage and started relying heavily on tradition feudal politicians. He abandoned his constituency earlier than expected. The only thing Islamic about his socialism was the nationalisation of Non-Muslim educational Institutions and declaration of the Ahmadiya Community as a Non-Muslim Minority. Societies have innate ambitions and aspirations and respond their own way. Bhutto’s biggest mistake was the politicisation of Jinnah’s legacy. The people lost trust in him and never stormed to release him.

Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s aspirations about Pakistan were simple, realistic and practical. His speech of 11 August 1947 provides guidelines for a people centric Pakistan in which the legislature and executive were directed to work for the welfare of the people. He confined the Constituent Assembly to framing a Constitution for the welfare of the people without any ethnic, religious and class prejudices. He directed the Executive to take a people friendly start and work against corruption, jobbery, nepotism and ensure public safety. He promised to make Pakistan an egalitarian state where no class divides including religion would impact the functioning of the state.

Unfortunately, the onerous task of nation building never took a start. Lobbies within the nascent Pakistani system were upset and within hours of his death set about redefining Pakistan according to their own interests. Jinnah’s legacy does not exist in the distorted history books of Pakistan’s education curriculum. Very few make the effort to unearth the facts. But as time has passed, even religious parties that opposed him have realised how integral he remains to the spirit of Pakistan.

Successive civilian governments have failed to provide the type of relief Jinnah and Bhutto promised to the people. Jinnah’s death precluded his vision. Bhutto fell into the familiar pit. Successive regime changes since 1988 are musical chairs between PPP and PMLN that promote Jinnah’s anti thesis.

The only respite to people came through military regimes. But the military psychology of the ‘Welfare of the Men’ failed to arch beyond a point where elitist demons are allowed to permeate and take over. The military’s efforts at reversing to civil rule were followed by a familiar deluge of fly by night reformers who perpetuate a corrupt system.

Pakistan’s politics lacks a centre from where left or right can be differentiated. What prevails is an elitist approach that usually co-opts the religious parties as expediency. As a result society continues to get intolerant. Having been excluded, the people of Pakistan are weary of the system and willing to forge a new bridge for their social contracts.

I came across an interesting comment by Rauf Klasra. He said that two rightist parties in Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek are actually propagating a leftist agenda. I agree with him, with the logic that the left in Pakistan has never existed after 1960. Whatever remains has since become pseudo liberal. What we see in the existing right/left, is a status quo of elitist interests that allies with the religious right for exploitation. What I wrote in ‘Khan’s Nouvelle Pakistan’ (6 November 2011), was that the people have shunned the old politics and opted for change, and it remains true today. It is Imran Khan and Dr.Qadri who will now define the centrality of Pakistan’s politics.

Both PTI and PAT are parties riding the winds of change. Their agendas and manifestos revolve around Jinnah’s speech of 11 August, 1947. Both appear people centric. Both talk of egalitarianism, rule of law, social justice, the empowerment of people, village councils, peace at home and peace abroad, transparency, rights of Non-Muslims as equal citizens, a drive against corruption, a transparent electoral process, constitutional reforms and the separation of legislature from the executive. But there is more.

Deep down, analysts in both parties realise that a Parliamentary system unitary in nature does not suit a federal system in which both parties promise devolution of the provinces on administrative convenience. In case both parties manage to sweep the next elections, the two could combine to carry out sweeping reforms based on separation and devolution of powers. With an agenda such as this, both parties will have to face the wrath and machinations of the status quo they abhor and use for populist politics. Repeated incidents of violence in Model Town and today in Gujranwala reflect this mind-set.

Politics of change is a very tall order, easier said than done. The innate ambitions and aspirations of people have come to fore represented in snowballing rallies marching to Islamabad. The people have vested their confidence and reposed trust in Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri. The march is turning out to be Pakistan’s biggest mass mobilisation in history. Islamabad, a custom built capital is already choking with people. By the time this opinion gets to print, it would have further choked. The frenzied crowds having faced the heat, sleepless nights and now abounding with radiant energy, will demand a minimum roadmap of change.

My opinions are strong and based on empiricism. Last time when Bhutto did it, we as students were on the streets in his favour. When he nationalised educational institutions, we were against him on the roads of Lahore. Having repeatedly analysed Pakistan’s constitutional and political crises over many years, nobody amongst the masses trusts the present system. If the two do not deliver on promises, they will betray their flock.

The march to Islamabad means a cry for genuine change. This change must be premised on Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Speech. The people want a Naya Pakistan that actually means Jinnah’s Pakistan. As the two systems from the South converge onto Islamabad and join the one already there from KPK, the hurricane will generate unprecedented synergy.

Much will depend on how well the two leaders articulate their demands on a time line. Perhaps an independent investigation into the illegal printing of ballot papers would make the entire election irrelevant. No judicial commissions and no NADRA verification.

n    Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson.