Knowledge without character

Worship without sacrifice

Politics without principles

Leadership without integrity

Will destroy us.

–Quaid-e-Azam

Like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) of the 70’s, Imran Khan is the undisputed leader of change today. He is the chief architect of the Naya/Asli/Quaid’s Pakistan. After a decade of struggle in the 60s, the first free and fair elections were held in 1970 when our mandate was stolen. We came out on the streets in 1977, and once again our dharna continues in 2014 till the next honest ballot is held in 2015. This time, first time voters of 1970 and 2013 are standing together for Naya Pakistan to emerge from the ashes of the “Lotas and Luteras.” The movement is now unstoppable; the “Kaptan” is right, change has arrived, and there has been a mass awakening across the country. In the words of Iqbal, the fountains of the Himalayas have started to boil.

The PTI jalsa in Karachi on September 21, 2014 was another milestone in our democratic journey for a “Naya Pakistan.” On December 25, 2011 when the “Lotas’ descended on the party, Javed Hashmi was introduced as a “baaghi.” This Sunday, he was declared a “Daaghi” by Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Leadership without integrity and politics without principles produces these turncoats, who then gyrate from party to party for personal interest. PTI emerged as a national party on October 30, 2011 during the mammoth jalsa at Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore. Till that time the party was ‘lota’ free and in total control of the ideologues. One ‘daaghi’ has fallen, and one by one, the others will follow.

In 1971, when I joined the University of Punjab, Javed Hashmi was the President of the student’s Union elected on the ticket of Islami Jamait-e-Tulba who were also called Jamatias. He was young, charismatic and a first class orator. He even challenged ZAB to set his foot on the university campus. “Aik Bahadur Aadmi Hashmi” was a popular slogan of the times. He then led the anti Bangladesh movement, flirted with Asghar Khan’s Tehrik-e-Istiqlal during the anti ZAB drive in 1977. He joined the Zia camp and succeeded in getting cabinet slots. From Quaid to Makdoom, from Jamat to league and then PTI, he has covered several bases. He is not alone in this arena of switching loyalties and parties. Today ‘lotacracy’ is the biggest political menace to infect all parties, including PTI.

‘Lotas’ in politics were introduced by dictatorial regimes led by Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf. Till 1958, there were only ideologues; change of party was unheard of. It was because of the adherence to principles, and corruption was well contained. As a Muslim League child, I always wanted to meet Wali Khan, the leader of the National Awami Party (NAP). My father was totally opposed to his politics but respected his adherence to principles. The founding leadership of the Muslim League were all men of integrity that included stalwarts like Suharwardy, Sardar Nishtar, Khawaja Nazimuddin Maulana Fazal Haq, Maulana Bashani, Iftikhar Mamdot, Feroze Khan Noon, Qayyum Khan etc.

PTI is a party of change; ‘Kaptan’ has challenged the status-quo, and as such, the old players should have no role in ‘Naya Pakistan.’ Serious questions are being raised about the potential and credibility of the people who are seen standing next to the Imran Khan. At least when he talks about conflict of interest in politics and declares that businessmen make poor leaders, the stage should be free of them; when he declares that Pakistan will be turned into an Islamic welfare state, the people rubbing his shoulders should show faith and commitment to this cause and not cosmetic silence.

Only comrades of change can lead the charge for a ‘Naya Pakistan.’ Individuals who carry the stripes or ‘daaghs’ of dictatorships cannot erase them. The exit of Hashmi should be an eye opener to identify and then contain the daaghis. The ‘Kaptan’s credibility is above board and the people have reposed full trust in his leadership; but the so-called electables are eroding his high moral ground.

History is witness that all revolutions have been contained by the enemy within. The approach being, ‘If you cannot beat them, join them.’

The Pakistan movement was hijacked by toadies who joined the Muslim League in hoards after the Lahore resolution of 1940. ZAB’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ was taken over by the so called electable who surrounded the Quaid-e-Awam, while the original comrades were languishing in jails. The Bolshevik revolution of Lenin was over run by the elitist Muscovites against whom the uprising was directed.

Leaders and nations must learn from history to change it; otherwise forces of the status-quo prevail. New situations call for fresh minds and approaches. In the past, we have been misled and cheated by our own leadership both elected and unelected. Good or modified intentions alone are not enough to break the shackles of the status-quo. The enemy is within and rubbing shoulders with the only untainted political leader of our times. Now that victory is within reach, there can be no going back. Only astute judgment is needed to clinch it for our coming generations.

 The writer is ex-chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.

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