From a political stand point Islamabad is barren land. Its rulers have come from outside, some even from far off lands (Moeen Qureshi, Shaukat Aziz). Only Khakis from Rawalpindi have been able to grab power, no local civilian has had the distinction to rule over Pakistan. Ayub Khan, the first usurper, moved the capital from Karachi as he had the desire to build his empire closer to his home village (Rehana) on the other side of Margalla Hiills in Haripur.

It is widely rumored that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was able to convince Indira Gandhi at the Simla Summit that his political dynasty would rule Pakistan on the lines of the Nehru family in India. That is why he took young Benazir Bhutto with him to present her as heir apparent. Thank God he did not move the capital to Larkana but instead he introduced provincial autonomy in the unanimous 1973 constitution. Dictators that followed (Zia, Musharraf) tried to deface the document to keep power in Islamabad but the 18th amendment devolved authority to the provinces, though it has not reached the Tehsils and Union Councils yet, but the clout of the capital has been cut to size. Ultimately people will take charge of their destiny and play their role in local development. Neither Islamabad nor Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta will be able to exercise absolute authority. Pakistan is moving in the right direction from one seat of power to four and ultimately many in the form of local government. The era of centralised authority is over, that is why the lights are out in the federal capital.

There is no point in living and then operating in political barren lands and wilderness while fertile areas are left abandoned to novices. Nawaz Sharif has been able to rule Islamabad three times because of his control of Takht-e-Lahore. In his first stint in power, Ghulam Haider Wyne an ordinary worker of PML-N was elevated as dummy Chief Minister (CM) Punjab. When crunch time came after the dismissal of Nawaz’s first government by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan the provincial set up fell like a house of cards, that is why kid brother runs the province now while the elder Sharif manages Islamabad.

Bhutto’s have won five elections (1970, 1977, 1988, 1994, 2007) a record un-matched by any other political party their seat of power remains Larkana and every time they lose control of Islamabad they revert back to their base. Smaller parties (MQM, ANP, JUIC-F) that were part of the federal coalition government kept their nuclear active and intact.

The city of Lahore has always been the political trendsetter. ZAB launched his Peoples party here in November 1967, PML-N emerged in the nineties from the Shadows of PML (Pagara) an establishment outfit, Kaptaan announced his party in April 1996 all from the city of Iqbal. ZAB termed Lahore the Leningrad (St Petersburg) of Pakistan and desired to be buried here. Zia denied his wish as it would have greatly expanded the influence of his party all the way from Larkhana to Lahore. Despite being a local son, Kaptaan relocated to the political barren lands of Islamabad and continues to live there for reasons best known to him.

Being a Lahore founded party, PTI has a major strategic advantage to take on Takht-e-Lahore on their home ground. When Lahore fell, even ZAB could not retain power in Islamabad. At one time PPP was a major political player of the city till PML-N was able to encroach on this domain mainly because of the short sightedness of the central leadership.

Like the fields of Panipat were the battleground for control of Delhi and then India, Lahore is the political arena or gateway to Islamabad the capital of the Republic. There is a famous Urdu proverb ‘Jungle Mein Mor Nacha’, Kis Nay Dekha (Dance of the Peacock is meaningless if no body sees it). There is no point in dancing in the political Jungle of Islamabad while those who matter are located 175 miles (280 Kms) away in Lahore.

Islamabad responds to powerful invaders. It is a city of grades (Baboo-dom) andranks (Khakis) who freely mingle with diplomats and lobbyists. Conspiracy and intrigue is an integral part of the city. No one has ever left the capital with his/her dignity intact, survival is not easy here. The province of Sindh received body bags of three PMs (Liaquat Ali, ZAB and Benazir). The current PM from the Takht-e-Lahore is under threat of scrutiny and accountability and may fall.

The youth of the country in general and in Lahore in particular support Kaptaan and his agenda of change. Relying on this strategic advantage PTI should launch its political battle from the heart of Pakistan. Imran Khan is a son of the soil, born, educated and played cricket in the city. Zaman Park is where his political journey started, it is the defining moment for the final push to over run the forces of status-quo held here by Takht-e-Lahore. In my student days there was a famous cry for war “Girte huey divaron ko aik dhaka aur do” (Push the crumbling walls one more time). Let the battle start from Lahore, the political Panipat of the country for ‘Naya Pakistan’ to emerge.