One may not agree with the “Kaptan’s” approach but almost everyone outside the evil empire agrees on the need for change. The status quo if not challenged will consume Pakistan. Our parents were romantically involved with this country which was then passed on to us. As the first generation of the first Islamic democracy we were raised to lead the nation towards glory. Nationalism was in the air. Giving not taking was the norm.

The founding fathers worked tirelessly to build national institutions. Political leadership was almost corruption free. There was merit and rule of law. My father who was himself an active member of Pakistan Movement narrated tales of massacres and gun battles en-route to their freedom. My grandfather was not sure and wanted to return to his roots in Kashmir, so he decided to settle in Rawalpindi which was closer. Slowly but surely the caravan of freedom was moving on.

The year 1958 had special significance both for me and my motherland. In January I started school, Pakistan was declared a republic with Baboo (Honorary Maj-Gen) Iskander Mirza the last viceroy and first President. Elections were scheduled for the later months. Khan Qayyum Khan the leading political leader of the era decided on a long march from Peshawar to Karachi the capital city of that time.

As a committed leaguer my father stood on the Mall to receive his leader. As a five year old, I was with him holding his finger. It was perhaps the longest march ever. When the marchers reached Shahdara the other end of the procession was at Gujjar Khan. Khan Sahib never made it to Lahore. He was arrested and taken to the dungeons of the fort. Ayub Khan the commander-in-Chief imposed martial. The 1956 constitution was abrogated and elections called off. Pakistan and its nascent democracy had been derailed.

Our romance with Pakistan and struggle for a better life continued but doubts started to emerge. Ayub Khan’s democracy was run through the Thanas and was called Basic Democracy (BD members). There were forty thousand BD members in each province elected through a manipulated ballot and then controlled by the Station House Officers (SHOs) of the Police department. Rich became richer during his regime. Instead of nation building, empires were established. Captain Gohar Ayub Khan first became a leading industrialist and then emerged heir apparent to the Khan Dynasty.

While Ayub Khan was building his evil empire the first born free generation of Pakistan came in conflict with the state. There were students’ unrest, first in East Pakistan then Karachi and finally Lahore. His decade of progress celebrations proved to be the last straw. Street protests started. While still in our teens we had to face the full might of the state. First lathi charge on the Mall in 1968 was quite scary but we fought on. When we carried our fallen comrades to the emergency room of Mayo Hospital we were certain that Pakistan will one day be a constitutional democracy as envisioned by the father of the nation and the founding fathers.

While Quaid’s Pakistan was still intact we the young comrades of change prevailed over the might of the status-quo. First free and fair elections were held in 1970 on the basis of one man one vote. Ayub Khan’s BD system and his self imposed constitution was wrapped up. The evil empire was cornered but it decided to fight back. Power was not transferred to the freely elected leadership. The country was dismembered. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto picked up the pieces of what was left. The 1970 assembly framed two constitutions. Our dream of constitutional democracy was realized. In 1975 the forces of status-quo re-grouped to derail the democratic process once again. Another martial law was imposed followed by unwarranted constitutional amendments that continue to haunt us till today.

Without constitutional democracy Pakistan has no future. The basic ingredient of a democratic order is a free and fair ballot like the 1970 vote. Every election since then has been manipulated by the forces of status-quo. Unless these forces are cornered there will be no honest ballot. The elections planned for 2018 will be as rigged as the one in 2013 were.

If the Kaptaan can force an election in 2015 after over powering the evil empire, the derailment of democracy will end otherwise the loot and plunder will continue. His strength is his un-blemished credibility. The masses trust and believe in his honesty. Unfortunately while the forces of status-quo are united against change due to their vested interests, the forces of change are disjointed and disorganized.

Kaptaan’s crusade is for Naya Pakistan. Like the Quaid he has no heirs to succeed him in the party. There is no empire building. Today PTI stands out as the only anti status-quo national party committed to change. His call for a march on November 30, 2014 is for our coming generations to inherit a democratic constitutional state where people choose their leaders through an honest ballot. As a generation while we look back at our struggle and romance with Pakistan, the feelings are mixed. Is the best yet to come or behind us? Hopefully, we will see the signs of change in our lifetime or painfully surrender to the forces of the status-quo. Only time will tell.

The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation