"The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all"

Ecclesiastes 9:11

This biblical quotation sums up the game of chance. Opportunities come and go and the best ones do not necessarily avail it. The earliest man discovered fire by chance. However insignificant, it set the course to the evolution of humans through thinking. Time and tide do not wait. Luck favours the brave. The cunning hijacks it. Those who have the sense of timing wrest it. Seldom are opportunities repeated. Chance means thinking beyond far into the future, something all Pakistanis lack. Lif is yesterday and today. There is no tomorrow.

Seizing the moment is an art of statesmanship. Machiavelli described it as an opportunity created and exploited. Karl Von Clausewitz described chance as the understanding of Friction, Uncertainty and the Culmination Capacity. The bold and intelligent play it blind with gut sense. Khalid bin Waleed defeated the Muslims in Uhud because he chanced on a vulnerability of Muslim archers. This ability was repeated in military history from Fredrick the Great to Napoleon at Leuthan, Austerlitz, and Maringo. Hazrat Khalid Bin Waleed learnt his lesson early and used the relationship of time and space effectively at Walajah and Yarmuk.

In statesmanship, the chances are slow to come by, and statesmen must have the sense to seize it. Back in 1940, Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had not even toyed with the idea of an independent Muslim country. However,  towards the end of Second World War in 1945, he grabbed the chance. When Qaid said that he had to burn midnight oil because his leaders and people slept, he referred to the deep intellectualism a statesman needs to grab opportunities. Jinnah’s moment came in the midst of communal politics in India and a Cold war that was taking shape between East and West. Two years hence Pakistan was a reality.

In Pakistan’s history, no leader or statesmen has played a game of chance better than Jinnah. It needs intellect, awareness, knowledge, and dedication. Others who came after him relished his momentum and squandered. The article is not meant to discuss each opportunity, but to focus on the present. It explains why today this game of chance is being marred by the inability to think and plan. If Pakistan’s politicians do not play it right, an opportunity will be lost to expediencies. Pakistan will suffer because of international currents, hitmen economy, corruption and selfish short-sighted politics.

It is unfortunate that in Pakistan’s present crises, stigmatised by massive corruption, no political leader has the capacity to deliver. No one is thinking beyond personal gains, and none have a team that can peep into the futures. I would be surprised if any leader took cognizance that this game is juxtaposed in Pakistan’s internal and external dynamics. Neither the state nor political parties have any mechanism to comprehend, plan and act. Central to this thinking and crises is the need for a new social contract that can slowly work its way to good governance at home and effective foreign policy abroad.

Hardly anyone amongst Pakistani politicians comprehended the importance of two events in Sindh and Balochistan. These are solid precursors and beyond the game of numbers.

MQM Pakistan is breaking away from the legacy of Altaf Hussain and needs support to rebuild itself as a true representative of urban Sindh. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf is the only party with a similar manifesto that helps it for mutual advantage has stuttered.

In hindsight, if such an alliance had been forged; MQM would have become cohesive and stronger in the Senate. MQM-PTI alliance would also have taken over as the major opposition in National Assembly and subsequently Senate. PTI had much to gain in urban Sindh where swinging pockets of MQM voters would have facilitated PTI in winning national and provincial assembly constituencies. Unfortunately, PTI’s assay into the leadership of the opposition was marred by bad optics, irresponsible statements and vested interests of the corporate culture. Hence PTI lost its chance in the appointment of the Chairman NAB and could end in having no say in the interim government. The chance still exists, and it is up to Imran Khan.

I was always of the view that deprived Balochistan needed emergence of educated federalist leadership. The youngsters in Balochistan Assembly saw the inevitability and risked a reform through a vote of no confidence against the chief minister. It will be a tragedy if this young group of MPAs and Senators is abandoned or manipulated. Traditional politics would kill the opportunity.

Indeed, these young Turks got support from Asif Ali Zardari’s shrewd politics and PMLQ. But actually, this was leverage and not finality. The party of change did intervene to create the much-needed synergy. Belatedly PTI stepped in on 5 March 2018 and sparked a domino that risks fading away. Imran Khan's cooperation with smaller parties must set the architecture of a future political alliance much beyond elections to a self-reliant egalitarian Pakistan.

Time will tell who plays this chance better. Asif Ali Zardari, a child of opportunity, or Imran Khan, dragged by a corporate culture of infighting.

In this pursuit of a new social contract, exigency dictates sincerity from MQM Pakistan and young Turks of Balochistan. But their numbers are too few for a radical change. So both need an ally to gel and synergise them for a cause. MNAs and Senators from FATA will not be far behind. But this is no easy task for Imran Khan. The challenge is significant but surmountable. His public charisma has to be supported by meticulously crafted narratives that touch hundreds of million Pakistanis.

As a first step, he has to appraise the contextual situation in external and internal dynamics. For this, he needs constant inputs from a professional group and not professional politicians. His plan on where he wishes to see Pakistan in the next decade has to be supported by tangible policies. He does not need researchers and policy groups of typos but professional with expertise in respective fields exactly the type he abandoned in 2011 in favour of corporate politics.

He then has to make a battle plan in concert with allies to formulate a joint political front. The driving force for this alliance should not be an electoral victory but building a countrywide synergy. This means giving the nation a new vision with the resolute maintenance of objectives on policy spectrum. He has to target the poor and middle classes. Public awareness campaigns on policy matters will bring more dividends than sham membership camps. He will be destined to win with a new inclusive team.

Equipped with this plan, the next step for Imran Khan and his allies should be to garner at least 20 million votes. This means reactivating the silent of October 2011 or perhaps more. This also means targeting a majority in all four provinces and FATA. These objectives are ambitious but within grasp.

The name of the game is synergy. It is possible if Imran Khan gets it right. His biggest impediment will be friction within his ranks. He has to overcome it to get other parties into the fold. If he does not, his agenda of change will delve into history and Pakistan would have lost a chance to reclaim itself. Then the lesser will claim victory.


The writer is a political economist and a television anchor person.