Kaptaan has made a firm commitment that his Naya Pakistan will be a welfare state. In the sixties Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) made a similar promise to provide “Roti, Kapra aur Makan” (Food, clothing and shelter) to the masses. The purpose of this article is to reiterate his undertaking to the nation for which a lot of homework has already been done within the party. Once in power, PTI can convert the country into a real welfare state.

In order to prepare for the welfare state, PTI was the first political party to formulate a shadow cabinet in May 2009 comprising of the following:

Naeem-ul-Haq (finance), Firdaus Shamim Naqvi (Commerce & Industry), Najeeb Haroon (Housing & Works), Sadaqat Abbasi(Education), Dr. Farid A. malik (Science & Technology), Dr. Hamayun Mohmand (Health), Munawar Baseer Ahmad (Energy), retired Admiral Javed Iqbal (Defence), retired Brig Samson Sharaf (Defence Production), Azhar Tariq (Interior), Dr. Shahid Zia (Food, Agriculture and livestock), Dr. Shirin Mazari (Foreign Affairs), Akbar S Babar (Political affairs) Ms. Shamsha Ali (Women Affairs, Environment), Ejaz Chaudhry (Religious Affairs), Dr. Muhammed Shafique (irrigation and water resources). It was the ablest cabinet ever, with four experts having doctoral degrees.

As minister of finance Naeem-ul-Haque was tasked to prepare a framework for a welfare state for a start he proposed three areas which the state was made responsible for (education, health and employment). Four think tanks were formed to prepare detailed policies to achieve this objective. First meeting of the experts took place on Feb 11, 2010 at Lahore in which two policy areas were identified namely: security and economy – later on agriculture & rural development and devolution was also included.

As the world is reviewing the effects of the Bolshevik or Soviet Revolution after completion of a century (1917 – 2017), the concept of welfare state has to be revisited. The mighty USSR (United Socialist Soviet Republic) dominated the world for 77 years before its breakup in 1994. People’s Republic of China (PRC) has kept its socialist course and continues to develop. Both USSR and PRC struggled against imperial monarchies they had no experience of democracy or a people’s republic. The welfare states in Europe were able to combine the social gains together with the democratic framework that already existed. Sweden, Finland, Scandinavian countries, Germany, France have all done well as welfare states.

Pakistan is a constitutional democracy with rights of the citizens enshrined in it. Had the original version been followed by the elected representatives of the people, the country would have been in much better shape. Article 25-A has declared literacy a right of the citizen to be provided by the state. Zia had amended this clause to remove the time limitation but the 18th amendment re-introduced it as such by August 2015 every 5 year child should have been in school. Provincial governments are in violation of this clause which calls for suo moto action by the Supreme Court.

ZAB launched his party as a progressive force that was unable to deliver Roti, Kapra aur Makan but succeeded in denting the system. Two dictators were unable to erode his legacy till the party fell in wrong hands. Zardari’s rule (2013 – 2018) has changed the complexion of the entire progressive movement which was once led by stalwarts like Dr. Mubashir Hassan and Comrade Mairaj Mohammed Khan. Hopefully kaptaan will be able to keep his course despite the inclusion of statuesque politicians.

The only free and fair election of 1970 should be the model of our democratic transition. In Punjab most electables had to bite the dust. On a progressive agenda of change Pakistan People’s Party won all the seats of Lahore. In Sindh influential individuals were given tickets but they were subservient to the party platform of social equality. Initially ZAB had a free hand but gradually the old guard was able to surround him. The military action in 1975 in Balochistan proved to be the proverbial last straw. Once he dissolved the assemblies the hounds were ready to attack the Quaid-e-Awam and rip apart his movement.

In the sixties ZAB emerged as the most popular leader, in our times only Kaptaan stands out. His struggle against corruption has rocked the statuesque. History will record his valiant innings to bring honesty in politics. ZAB was able to cage the hounds for a few years (1971-1975). He exercised his powers for change which created his legacy but ultimately he was run over.

By contrast Kaptaan does not have the experience or political sagacity of ZAB but his honesty and credibility stands out. Will he be able to cage the hounds within his party only time will tell but he will be evaluated on his promise to create a welfare state for which the framework has already been worked out by the party think tanks. The first 100 days plan is also there. With the demand for early elections, PTI should also announce its detailed plan for the creation of the most cherished state which Kaptaan terms as Riasat-e-Madinah (Welfare State of Madinah) which was established by the Prophet (PBUH) which then rose to be a superpower of its times. China has laid its claim to be the superpower of the world by 2050. After that the field is open. With a population of over 200 million consisting mostly of youth, Pakistani leadership has also been put to test. Pakistan too can emerge as a major player if it puts its own house in order by selecting the appropriate course for the emancipation of its masses. Right choices have to be made. In the words of Wali Khan the Red Shirt leader of the country, “One cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hound at the same time”.

Only the hounds within his party stand between him and his promised welfare state.