Abdul Hafiz Kardar and Imran Khan were two great Cricket Captains of Pakistan. While Kardar sahib introduced the country as a cricketing power house, Imran lead his team to world cup victory in 1992. Both Kaptaans led from front and did not believe in player power. The mission of the team was clearly defined, which the players were required to follow—to the extent that they were called autocratic and dictatorial at times.

Imran then successfully led a campaign for neutral umpires and pushed for merit in the selection of the team. After retiring from Cricket he launched his movement for justice by the name of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in April 1996. The party was based on a progressive ideology of social justice with an aim to create an Islamic Welfare State. From a Tonga Party to a national political force, the PTI has come a long way under the leadership of Kaptaan Imran Khan.

Merit and fair play have been the hallmark of Kaptaan’s Sports and political career. When Musharraf offered him cabinet slots he refused to team up with the corrupt team of PML-N and even warned him of their evil ways. The General eventually met his fate and his dream of becoming the first human ever to be elected in uniform could not be realised. Both individuals and nations must learn from history. One cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hound. In other words, the products of status-quo cannot become soldiers of change. The lines have to be carefully drawn. Is player power making a comeback in the Kaptaan’s team?

Political parties are formed around ideologies. The party, rank and file, then follows that ideology. It is widely believed that learning is much easier than un-learning. In other words once the culture of an organisation is developed it is almost impossible to change it. PTI is a party of change; status quo and the followers of it are an enigma for party members. Founders like Comrade Ahsan Rashid inculcated a spirit of giving not taking. Honesty, integrity and fair play are virtues that are revered by the members.

Over the years the party developed a consultative decision making process where Kaptaan consulted his team before reaching the final verdict. Each member of the team carried equal weightage, in a perfect style of group power, with minimum individual influence. Self-interests were contained; party ideology was considered supreme. By 2011 PTI was the first party to have a shadow cabinet and think tanks. Policy briefs were prepared by the experts and then presented to the Kaptaan. First 100 days plan was also formulated and then deliberated with the Central Executive Committee (CEC).

Then came the electables in hordes. Individuals who had spearheaded status quo teams were now included in the crusade for change, for which they had no background or experience. Mirza Gahlib rightly said, “I have spent a life time in the love of idols, how can I be a Muslim in my later years?” These individuals brought a lot of feedback from their previous experience but no feed forward as they were required to support, follow and strengthen status quo, not change it. Some players have now become more equal than the others in violation of universally accepted rules of group power.

For a team to perform group power is vital. Ideology provides the nucleus around which the members perform like electrons. The leader is part of the nucleus and ensures that the electronic configuration is not disturbed. Electrons are made to revolve around the centre in their own orbits. Player power disturbs the functioning of the team and ideological boundaries are transgressed.

Over the years the political bounty hunters have confused ideology with self-interest. PML-N is a typical example of a party with vested outlook. Everyone has to make money. National interests or institutional strengthening means nothing to them as long as their bank accounts continue to swell. This is the third stint in power for Mian Sahib. Aitzaz Ahsan very rightly advised him to review his approach in dealing with the establishment. Institutions are run under rules, regulations and institution. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) is appointed for a period of three years and so is the Inspector General (IG) of Police. While COAS invariably completes his term, the IG almost never does.

What that says about each institution is self-explanatory.

Once the ideology is defined and understood institutions can be built around it. Confusion in ideology is deadly for institution building. Lack of systems in political parties is mainly due to lack of ideological direction. The other day I heard a very interesting comment: the electables within PTI face more opposition in the party than outside. The rank and file believes in the Kaptaan and his struggle for change, but they are uneasy with the power of the players that surround him. The challenge is within; only group power can resolve it through debate and discussion. As custodian of the ideology of change the Kaptaan has to act like a nucleus and balance the electrons around him without any drift, otherwise there will be an atomic explosion like Hiroshima and Nagasaki.