On December 7, 2016 while addressing a press conference at Lahore, Justice (R) Wajiuddin Ahmed announced the formation of a new political party by the name of Aam Loeg Ittehad (ALI). The city before has been the venue of launch of several political parties. It was here that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) launched his Peoples Party in November 1967. In the nineties two parties were announced here as well (Farooq Leghari’s Millat Party in August 1998 and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in April 1996). Almost all other political outfits were conceived at GHQ Rawalpindi. Lahore is the heart and brain of Pakistan. In 1940 the Muslims of India gathered here to show their resolve for the partition of the Sub-continent, in October 2011 it was here that PTI emerged as a political force and now ALI has challenged the forces of status-quo.

It seems evident that the forces of change always gather at Lahore while those of status-quo at Rawalpindi/Islamabad with PML-N being the only exception. It was launched from GHQ but managed to exercise control of the country through Takht-e-Lahore. In October 1999 apparantly GHQ realised its mistake and decided to dismantle the ‘Sharif Empire’ but then allowed it to resurrect itself in 2007 through the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Wali Khan, the great nationalist leader, used to say, “One cannot run with hare and hunt with the hound.” PML-N has succeeded in defying this norm. A party that was conceived and launched at Rawalpindi now controls the city of change, making the job of the comrades even more difficult.

Justice Wajiuddin has solid credentials. He and his ancestors have never compromised on principles. In 1999 he was the senior most judge after the Chief Justice who refused to take oath under Musharraf’s PCO while Iftikhar Chaudhry and others did. They even allowed the dictator to amend the Constitution at will. His father Justice Waheeduddin Ahmed was on the original bench of the Supreme Court that was hearing the appeal of ZAB’s case. When he refused pressure from the dictator, he was targeted and removed from the bench on health grounds. It was Justice Wajiuddin who as the head of the PTI election tribunal disqualified the wrong doers in the interparty elections. He stood his ground and refused pressure from the leadership.

Both Millat Party of Farooq Leghari and PTI of Imran Khan stood for clean politics with a strong front against corruption and corrupt politicians. When Musharraf decided on another GHQ political launch (PML-Q) Leghari Sahib merged his party with the new outfit while Kaptaan stood his ground and refused to sit with the political thugs. By 2011 PTI emerged as a political force that was able to challenge the hegemony of Takht-e-Lahore. By the time of national elections in 2013 political vandals of the past managed to take control of Kaptaan’s party thereby seriously tarnishing its cleanliness. The ideologues protested and even resisted but were over ruled. Some decided to leave while others tried to bring back the party on its original platform of clean politics. Aam Loeg Ittehad is an attempt to bring back cleanliness in politics that has been missing since long.

In the first press release the party manifesto was highlighted which had commonalities with the original PTI plans to reform the country. The press wanted to know how ALI would be able to implement what PTI could not. Justice Wajiuddin was firm in his reply, without criticising anyone he talked about his legal innings and how he was able to uphold his principles in dispensing justice. According to him not only could corruption be contained through the legal process even the looted wealth could be recovered. It is all about leadership and the will to create a true welfare state.

Leaders get elected by the votes of ‘Aam Log’ but then refuse to serve them. Political parties have become family fiefdoms where the workers have no say. In ALI all positions will be filled through elections. Eighty per cent of the tickets would be awarded to ‘Aam Log’. The party will implement Agriculture reforms of 1959, 1972, 1977 in letter and spirit. Development of agro based industry will be a priority. State will ensure 100 per cent employment and un-employed individuals will get subsistence allowance. The party will have three streams of hierarchy; office holders who will all be elected, ticket holders/elected representatives who will be selected through primaries, and office bearers who will not hold any elected office.

While sitting through the launch of ALI, my thoughts went down the memory lane. My father joined the Muslim League in 1935 the party that was founded at Decca in 1906 and remained with it till his death in 1991. As a child I was exposed to the founding fathers of Pakistan who were mostly able, honest and dedicated individuals. While still in school I witnessed the launch of Peoples Party in 1967 and then as a young professional saw the formation of Millat Party and PTI in the mid nineties. Now, at the end of my political activism, it has become clear that our mission remains un-accomplished. We the ideologues and puritans of politics have to keep fighting for the Quaid’s promised land. ALI is a bold attempt to keep the struggle going while most political parties have been either hijacked or compromised. We may be running out of choices but our will to fight remains intact. Kudos for justice Waji and his team for a loud wakeup call that all is not well in the motherland. Lahore is the political battle ground of Pakistan where another warrior has declared war against the forces of status-quo. Good luck to him.