On May 07, 2013 while attending an election rally in Gulberg, Lahore Kaptaan had a fall. It was a close call. He had a serious back bone injury and was bed ridden for weeks. He refused to go abroad for treatment and it was his will power and resilience that brought him around. The remaining campaign was missed and he was unable to lead the spontaneous protests that followed the electoral fraud of May 11, 2013.

From its inception on April 25, 1996 Kaptaan built his party with the help of committed workers and ideologues. Comrades of change came voluntarily in hoards to the Minar-e-Pakistan on October 30, 2011 to build ‘Naya Pakistan’. The caravan then moved to Mazar-e-Quaid jalsa which was then followed by a dinner in which the ideologues and the newly inducted electables shared bread. It was perhaps the proverbial ‘Last Supper’ for the old guard. The graph of the party kept rising and Kaptaan was received with chants of “Wizar-e-Azam Imran Khan” wherever he went. However his fall proved fatal for the electoral process, party, democracy and pursuit of Naya Pakistan.

Politics of resistance and protest are a totally different ball game. In most developing countries the force of the state is ruthless. Only ideologues can face this ruthlessness, the rest shy away. To face the water cannon, then tear gas, followed by lathi charge and then rubber bullets, is not easy.

When electables joined the party they started to dominate the electoral process within the party and at the national level. It is indeed interesting that most of these new entrants were involved in manipulating the Inter Party Elections (IPE) and were then expecting fair play in the General Elections (GE). Founding party stalwarts like Comrade Ahsan Rashid were made to bite the dust through intrigue and foul play both in IPE and GE. When the electables had to taste their own medicine in GE they proved to be ineffective and helpless. The thugs of PML-N were able to easily outclass them. Kaptaan’s message from his hospital bed was loud and clear, and the first time voters responded but when their mandate was stolen there was no one to guide or lead.

The tainted skills of the electables have hurt the party badly. The electoral process is in need of major reforms in which there is very little interest amongst the powers that matter (Politicians, Qazis, Khakis and Baboos). Change through tainted ballot is not possible, it has to be forced through street power as was done in case of the 1970 ballot. For a credible election the electoral process has to be completely neutral with no games or foul play.

Kaptaan’s credibility remains intact and he is positioned to lead the movement but the electables who surround him create major doubts. In NA 122 Lahore even Kaptaan’s popularity proved to be short by 2400 votes.

The famous proverb applies here, you can take the horse to the water but you cannot make him drink can be applied here with some modification: ‘Kaptaan can support the electables but he cannot get them elected’, mainly because his supporters reject them and their manipulative skills are not good enough.

The possibility of rigging was discussed within the party before the May 2013 elections but when it happened there was no strategy to counter it. The Central Election Cell in Lahore did not call for street protests as was done in 1977. An election results in mass mobilization. Till the ballot closing time PTI was dominating then the angels came, the voting time was extended followed by a victory speech when the counting was still on-going. Timing is crucial in politics, the tempo was lost due to lack of direction. The demand for opening of four constituencies was fair as was proven by the tribunal decisions which were rendered after over two years of legal battles. PML-N was able to steal the momentum over time. One by one the electable who were riding the PTI wave were neutralized, cornered on both ends.
The dharna at Lalik Chowk in DHA Lahore was spontaneous and timely and should have led into a fully fledged protest movement. Budding cricketer Dawod Khan was one of the leaders of this movement for change. He is now disillusioned with politics and is found practicing in the nets in Phase V. Every time I see him, it reminds me of the failures of our generation to lead the youth towards building ‘Quaid’s Pakistian’. Steve Jobs rightly said, ‘Either lead or get out of the way’. Unfortunately in our times people neither deliver nor leave instead they became a national burden that we have to shoulder. In Persian it is called ‘Gunah-e-Belizat’ (Tasteless Sin). It is widely understood that there is always allure for sin but in this case there is none, even fringe benefits do not exist.

Kaptan is now fully cured and he can make a fresh start by sending the electables to their constituencies where they claim support. PTI is a party of change, it does not need feedback of the old politicians it needs feed forward of the new combined with the passion o f the young. Kaptaan is a fighter and believes in fighting till the last ball. On one hand the efforts for the second disqualification of the speaker should continue while on the other he should prepare for the next elections. An honest ballot together with the fulfillment of the constitutional requirements for candidates will have a major impact on our journey for democracy.

Political cleansing is the need of the hour. While the Kaptaan continues to fight for credible elections in the country the same is needed for the party as well. IPE’s are around the corner, hopefully the same mistakes will not be repeated. Elections have to be credible otherwise they become counterproductive. Conflicts of interest have to be carefully watched and controlled in such elections.

Kaptaan is now entering the third phase of his struggle. The first being the rise (April 25, 1996 to October 30, 2011), the second till the fall (December 25, 2011 to May 07, 2013) and the third being the post fall period. The momentum has to be rebuilt and the junoon revived. Kaptaan is right: the enemy is within. It is a test of his leadership to unify his party and perform on his original objectives for which the Tehrik was launched. The fall period should be left behind together with the electables who were a part of it while the Kaptaan moves on like a Phoenix to rebuild Quaid’s Pakistan. He is credited for introducing neutral umpires to cricket now the same fool proof methodology has to be adopted in his party and then the country. He has several ‘Captains’ innings to his credit that is why he is called ‘Kaptaan’. Let this one be the greatest of them all, to be termed as the ‘Legacy’ stroke for history to record and remember.