For the Kaptaan there is no turning back empty handed. The comrades of change are with him all the way. It has been a long drawn struggle for both. From the first laathi charge of young comrades outside the Lahore GPO in 1968 to November 30th, 2014 it has been 46 years to be exact. From our teens to our retirement we have not given up; our romance with the motherland continues. On August 10th this year, we braved all obstacles to reach Islamabad and we are determined to do the same in November. We will continue to march till our dream of a constitutional democracy established through an honest ballot is realized.

Pakistan was not created to be a Khaki-Baboo manipulated democracy. On top of this derailment, the imposition of third rate and corrupt leadership is an unpardonable crime. It has been an uphill task to deal with the ‘luteras’ left behind. No one disagrees with the need to change but then there is an institutional alliance to thwart it. Despite their dismal track record, civil society played a pivotal role in the restoration of judges. Against external threat, the people have always stood behind their men in uniform.

Who is there to watch out for national interests? Real democracy is the reliable mode to progress in the 21st century. Why have the voters been left at the mercy of turncoats and luteras? Kaptaan and his party are still in dharna even after the expiry of 100 days. It is not about winning or losing an election. It is the reliability of the process by which leaders are elected to govern this exploited and tormented nation. After the 2013 elections, it took 18 months for the Lahore High Court to vacate the stay granted to the speaker against the vote recount. The results are anxiously awaited. Vote recount is a right of the contesting candidate. The election tribunals cannot be stopped from providing relief to aggrieved parties. After restoration, it was expected that the judiciary will be the vanguard of people’s rights and freedom which has not happened.

It was because of our relentless struggle that we forced an honest ballot in 1970 in which some of us were first time voters. In 2013, it was widely expected that elections would be free and fair but they were not. Democracy survives by the strength of the electorate for which the mandate must be indisputable. While democracy in India flourishes, it is repeatedly derailed in the first Islamic Republic. The only way to end the derailment is through free and fair elections in 2015.

Kaptaan is already positioned at D-Chowk, Islamabad. The rest of us will join him there. Forces of status-quo that do not want change will come in the way, no doubt. On August 14, 2014, even the GT road was blocked outside the Ayub Park in Rawalpindi. I have been on several marches on this historic highway but never faced blockades and containers. What kind of democracy is this, where the elected representatives are afraid of their own voters?

Numbers are important but in the end it is the stamina that counts and Kaptaan is well trained in this trait. By and large, the gathering will be peaceful and each person will count. The two important institutions (judiciary and army) will be watching the events closely. National institutions serve the nation, not vested interests sometimes their own and sometimes of their collaborators. The people of Pakistan are in turmoil and that is why they are agitated. Kaptaan speaks for them and believes in their cause. The plight of the common man needs to be addressed.

Khaki direct intervention is neither sought nor desired as they usually take over without an exit strategy. In 1977, when the election was rigged and the political leadership was close to an agreement for fresh elections, General Zia launched Operation Fair Play. Indisputable elections were to be held within ninety days but have not taken place till today. It turned out to be Operation Foul Play that neutralized all the democratic gains; only the 1973 constitution survived which is now being restored.

Pakistan has a history of marches; each one of them produced results. Qayyum Khan’s long march in 1958 resulted in the first martial law. Pir Pagara’s march in 1977 toppled the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto government. During the Zia era, our Shia brethren refused to pay Zakat to the state. Fifty thousand people marched on Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. Within days, the might of the establishment crumbled and the Zakat ordinance was modified to exclude Fiqah-e-Jafferia. In the 90s there were several establishment sponsored marches to topple Benazir and then the Nawaz governments. The Charter of Democracy (COD) changed that and since then the establishment has not directly intervened.

The marches against Musharraf and for the restoration of the judiciary also produced results. When the people of Pakistan decide to march, they prevail. This time they will succeed again. History is on their side. The forces of evil and manipulation will be overcome by the power of the masses. It is a test of the institutions; they have to side with the people for their own survival and nourishment or face their overhaul as was done in Iran after the revolution.

Pakistan will be a constitutional democracy where the rule of the ballot will prevail. Let us march together with the Kaptaan and play our role for the betterment of the motherland and the future of our coming generations. November 30th, 2014 will prove to be the final push, if only 0.1% of the people show up on Constitution Avenue that day.

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