Zia and his coterie of generals erected two “Takhts” (thrones). The one in Lahore was headed by Mian Nawaz Sahrif while the other in Karachi was under Altaf Hussain. Kaptaan was the first politician to challenge both remnants of dictatorship. While Altaf’s empire has fallen Mian Sahib’s kingdom is in disarray. Addressing a huge gathering at Raiwind on September 30, 2016, Kaptaan has challenged Takht-e-Lahore by shutting down Islamabad on November 2, 2016. All roads now lead to the capital.

The question is, why should the battle for “Takht-e-Lahore” be fought in Islamabad? Pakistan has a history of ‘Long Marches’ to the capital. Each one of them has produced results, the restoration of judges being one of them. Kaptaan’s ‘Dharna’ in 2014 could not topple Mian Sahib’s regime but it seriously damaged its credibility. Rawalpindi-Islamabad is “khaki territory” and the failure or success of the march depends on them. Pir Pagara’s march against the elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was GHQ sponsored and so were some of the others during Benazir-Nawaz tussle. Finally the two decided to sign the Charter of Democracy (COD) to protect their tenure and interests.

Mian Sahib was launched at Lahore under the khaki umbrella. He was first inducted as Finance Minister and then managed to become Chief Minister (CM) to contain the government of Benazir Bhutto in Islamabad. With the backing of the establishment he started to build his empire. As CM Punjab he doled out plots and permits to his political workers to create a new cadre of rent seeking politician. After the dismissal of the first BB government in 1990, Mian Sahib was elevated to the post of Prime Minister (PM) through another establishment sponsored alliance called Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI). Through this clandestine operation ‘Takht-e-Lahore’ managed to take control of the country. Ghulam Mustaf Jatoi who as interim PM had ensured IJI victory in elections cried foul but he was used and then side tracked.

Once at the helm Mian Sahib wanted it all and decided to take on his mentor President Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) who countered by dismissing his government. Zia’s 8th amendment was used to blunt Mian Sahib’s onslaught. Finally, General Waheed Kakar intervened and both the PM and President were sent home.

ZAB termed Lahore as the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) of Pakistan. Both his rise and fall were enacted here. Despite the fact that he came from Larkana he had willed to be buried here. Zia not only got rid of him but also ensured that his remains are buried away from the city where he launched his party and was awarded the death penalty.

After the 18th Amendment Islamabad has been cut to size. Only khakis and the Qazis remain there while the administrative authority has been devolved to the provinces in the spirit of the 1973 constitution. PTI’s crusade is not against the state. It desires to challenge the hegemony of ‘Takht-e-Lahore that has kept the country hostage. Shutting down the capital will bring PTI face to face with the Khakis and Qazis while ‘Takht-e-Lahore’ will remain un-challenged being 300 kilometers away.

PML-N is not a political entity as it seriously lacks ideology. It is a party of interests where individuals have got together to make money. Spirit is unknown to the leadership together with the rank and file. It thrives on its logistical framework which ensures electoral victory. While Takht-e-Karachi relied on coercion and violence, Takht-e-Lahore opted for manipulation of the electoral process. About two years back while returning from a Clean Energy conference in Istanbul, I ran into one of PML-N’s MNA from Lahore at the airport. Burning of coal was condemned by the experts. I requested the MNA to convince his party leadership to refrain from installing coal fired power plants but he showed no interest. On my insistence a common friend who was there remarked that the party is only interested in projects where commission can be made all other considerations are meaningless for them. The MNA just smiled and remained silent, no defense was offered.

Today, there are two establishments in the country (Khakis, Sharifs) both have their influence and control over state apparatus. The next Ballot in 2018 or earlier will be decisive for the future of democracy in the country. An honest electoral exercise will cut Mian Sahib to size for that to happen the Khakis have a major role to play. Kaptaan alone cannot overcome the Sharif Establishment as it has a history of manipulation. Takht-e-Lahore can be cut to size by surrounding the CM Secretariat in Lahore followed by a blockade of the ‘Lat Sahib ka Daftar’ from where the Chief Secretary operates. Without Takht-e-Lahore, Mian Sahib’s government will fall like a house of cards. In 1992, despite the restoration of his government in Islamabad, Mian Sahib could not hold on to power without control of Lahore. Let the crusade start from the launching grounds of Mian Sahib’s party and politics. The evil must be nipped in the bud otherwise it can re-surface as it did after Musharraf’s shameful NRO. Takht-e-Lahore and Pakistan cannot co-exist.


The writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.