A revolution has to be managed for success. While Mao Tse Tung was the undisputed leader of the Chinese uprising, Chou-en-Lai was its manager. Together they teamed up to create a miracle of the 20th century. Pakistan Peoples Party was led by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) but managed by individuals like J. A. Rahim and Dr. Mubashir Hasan. Once they left, he floundered.

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) was formed by a handful of change minded individuals on April 25, 1996 at Lahore. Besides the Kaptaan, there was another son of the soil with him called Comrade Ahsan Rashid who left for his heavenly abode on Nov 25, 2014 at the age of seventy years. Imran Khan took time off his dharna to attend the funeral of the man who single handedly built the party. As President of PTI Punjab, he covered the entire length and breadth of the province to produce a cadre of devoted workers. The phenomenal rise of the party in the baston of PML(N) is attributed to him.

In his death the party has lost its Chou-en-Lai. Who will now carry the burden of managing a national party which is at the threshold of change? Kaptaan continues to lead the charge but without his comrade-in-chief. Even Mao Tse Tung was lost after the demise of his second in command. At his funeral on November 26, 2014 party workers had gathered en-masse. As I was walking towards the mosque in Nisar Colony, I overheard the concerns of the comrades. “Imran Khan must come to bid a final farewell to the man who kept the party alive with his charm, time and money’. On hearing this I intervened in defence of the Kaptaan. I said, “Leaders have to sacrifice for their nation and have to override personal or party links.” But they refused to agree. Finally, when the Kaptaan arrived, it was a sigh of relief.

Like most of us in the party, Ahsan Rashid belonged to the first generation of Pakistan; born, raised and educated on the Mall Road. Imran Khan lived behind Aitchison College on Upper Mall and went to this institution. Ahsan Rashid was raised on Temple road off the Mall, and attended Saint Anthony’s High School, while I lived on the Mall-Anarkali intersection and studied at Cathedral School also on the same road. We were raised with love and a conviction for the motherland, with a clear vision to serve and build; not plunder.

Unfortunately, despite being the ablest and finest generation of the country, we could not play an effective role in its growth and were consumed in a struggle with the forces of the status-quo. Some of us left never to return, but a few did come back to serve. They transferred their life earnings and brought home their expertise to serve their motherland. Ahsan Sahib was one of them. He firmly believed in creating a welfare state as envisioned by the founding fathers of the country. He opened his heart, home and bank accounts for the party and people of Pakistan. It was because of individuals like him that the party was able to develop a culture of giving not taking. That is why the Lota Union within the party has not been accepted by the rank and file.

It is service, not position that matters. Ahsan Sahib continued to serve the party even after he was made to lose the election of President Punjab, a position he had held for years. Technically he should have been elected un-opposed, but this did not happen because there were forces within the party who wanted him out. It did not end here. He contested the elections in 2013 from a provincial constituency in Cantonment and was being tipped as the next Chief Minister of the province. Unfortunately, a clean individual like him had to face two electoral frauds at the fag end of his life, one in the party and the other at the provincial level.

Mao Tse Tung is revered as the great leader of China. His portrait hangs outside the forbidden city while his embalmed body lies at Tiananmen square in Beijing. Despite the state projection of Mao, it is his deputy Chou-en-Lai who is loved and praised by all and continues to live in the hearts of his people mainly because of his selfless service to the nation and personal sacrifice to the cause. Ahsan Sahib belonged to this class of selfless leaders who toiled for results not projection. Except for a few so called electables who surround the ‘Kaptaan’, PTI is composed of such pure individuals who genuinely believe in change and ‘Naya Pakistan’. For them politics means service to the nation, not business to create wealth as has been the norm with mainstream politicians.

Between October and December 2011, PTI underwent a transformation. The electables joined in hoards and tried to influence the party culture but so far they have only succeeded in surrounding the ‘Kaptaan’ not his party; mainly because of the lasting influence of party ideologues like Ahsan Rashid. He walked a fine line in dealing with old die hard workers and merry weather seekers. In private, he dissented with the ‘Kaptaan’ but never in public.

The electables have become a political liability for the PTI. The un-ceremonious exit of Javed Hashmi should be an aye opener. Kaptaan is his own man and is incorruptible. He may be swayed or misled, but he has the conviction to come back on track and deliver change.

Unfortunately, the struggle of our generation has neither been recorded nor reported. The Chou-en-Lai of PTI was a role model for the party and the nation to emulate. He earned his wealth abroad and brought it back to serve his motherland while our political leadership has worked in the opposite direction; plundered at home and transferred overseas to hide it. Fortunately for Pakistan, the children of Mall Road, who are now adults, have not given up. Their struggle for change continues as they have seen the rise of a new nation that they were supposed to lead. We are not a failed generation; instead we are battle hardened to fight on for ‘Naya Pakistan’. Kaptaan and his deputy have rekindled this romance. A credible ballot will bring back real democracy and associated progress to this exploited nation. Imran Khan and Ahsan Rashid will then be remembered as the Mao and Chou of a new Pakistan.

The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be contacted at fmaliks@hotmail.com