Despite being surrounded by political embarrassments, Kaptaan roared like a progressive leader in his May Day speech, before a charged crowd on the Mall Lahore, not too far from his home. There will be across the board accountability and no privatization-his message was loud and clear. Originally this speech was penned for the Karachi Jalsa on December 25, 2011. The electables who had managed to surround the Kaptaan after the October 30, 2011 Lahore Jalsa, created enough doubts to dilute the impact then. The city of Quaid has the largest number of Public or State Owned Enterprises (POE, SOE) and a sizeable population is linked with them, where privatization has hurt them bad.

Nationalization of privately owned enterprises in the seventies did not provide the desired results, but basic industrialization through public sector was needed. PIA was once one of the best airlines of the world. Pakistan Steel Mills generated profits. Fertilizer complexes helped in attaining food, while we started producing tanks and fighter jets for our security and self-reliance.

In order to bridge the gap between the ideologues and electables within PTI, it was agreed that visits would be arranged to the SOE’s in Karachi and a report would be prepared to formulate party policy on privatization. A visit was arranged but there was no feedback. A progressive welfare oriented movement started to waver. While Kaptaan talked about building a welfare state from his container top the individuals around him believed that most welfare states are bankrupt and not workable for a poor country like ours. There were heated debates in-house, as the Mecca of Capitalism has the largest budget deficit while Sweden and Finland are economically viable welfare states.

A party of change has to break the shackles of status-quo, it has to be different where the Kaptaan desires to convert Pakistan into a welfare state. Initially three areas were identified which included education, health and employment. Till October 30, 2011 there was focus and unanimity of approach. It changed with the induction of electables who came in hoards on the premise of winning elections. There was internal resistance due to the checkered past of some of these political players which was overruled. Kaptaan assured that the new comers would follow not alter the party approach but their guile and motives were grossly underestimated.

Instead of ideology, electability became important. Party policies were changed or overlooked by the newcomers. The credibility earned through years of hard work (1996 to 2011) was conveniently ignored. Ideologues were portrayed as political novices who had limited potential to take on the electables of other parties (PML-N, MQM, PPP, ANP).

Unfortunately the electables of PTI were no match to the entrenched PML-N manipulators. In NA-122 Lahore the disqualified speaker Ayaz Sadiq managed to get re-elected despite the tenacious efforts of PTI’s electable stalwart Aleem Khan proving the theory that Nawaz Sharif is the patron Saint of electables in Punjab. It is his wicket on which he remains unbeatable. In the 1970 elections Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) took on the electables of the Ayub stables by his Awami approach. His progressive ideology of Roti, Kapra aur Makan prevailed over electability introduced by the dictator. These are two divergent approaches ‘Awami’ or ‘Sarkari’. While one is based on mobilization of masses the other relies on manipulation of the electoral process.

‘Sarkar’ (state apparatus) is very powerful in the country. The GHQ sponsored parties and politicians rely on it for success. In the checkered political history of Pakistan only two parties were not founded by GHQ; Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was launched by ZAB in 1967 on an anti-establishment platform and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996 by Imran Khan while PPP has survived and prospered on the legacy of its founder, the electables of PTI have tried to cash in the popularity and credibility of the Kaptaan at the cost of the party.

Electables have proven to be an embarrassment and liability for the Kaptaan and his party. Now there is an on-going tussle for the control of his home town. Lahore is the heart of Pakistan. Control of the city ensures political leverage which no one is ready to forgo. Only a son of the soil can claim this mantle. On April 26, 1996 the party was formed at Lahore by a handful of individuals that included: Imran Khan, Hafeez Khan, Mahmood Awan, Ahsan Rashid, Nausherwan Burki, Naeem-ul-Haq and Mowaid Hussain all Lahorites.

Comrade Ahsan Rashid built the party at the grass root level (2006 – 2014) by his honest dedicated efforts. After his demise on November 25, 2014 the party and its progressive members have been rendered leaderless. Only Kaptaan can fill this void by moving back to his home base and restoring the party direction painfully carved by the founders. Kaptaan’s speech on Labour Day was a breath of fresh air. I could see the tension on the faces of the individuals sitting next to him. Thank God the crowd was spared of their thoughts as they only confuse the vision of the most popular leader of our times of converting the Islamic Republic of Pakistan into a true welfare state. Kaptaan, Lahore is your city you belong here. Islamabad is no man’s land. It is a grand stage where people come to play their act and then vanish mostly in disgrace. Zaman Park awaits you to lead the movement for Naya Pakistan.

The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.

fmaliks@hotmail.com