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Pakistan shall never be the same again

5


By Raoof Hasan

The inevitable has happened — the inevitable that IK’s supporters dreamt of, and his detractors dreaded. He is Pakistan’s next man in the prime minister’s house. May be not wearing the same shades, or carrying the same hues as his predecessors, but he comes riding the crest of a dream that he made his followers see and believe in.

 

 

Pakistan needed a dream desperately. For much too long, it had been denuded of its riches and promise. Its founding ideals, so eloquently enunciated through that historic August 11 speech of the Quaid, had been wantonly ravaged and brutalised. Its inspiration had been bludgeoned and its aspirations thwarted. In seventy years, Pakistan was reduced to being a shadow of what it was envisioned to becoming on that fateful morning of August 14, 1947, starting with a small cabinet representing all faiths and beliefs in the country and a national holiday calendar duly according space to followers of all religions.

 

Having brought Pakistan to the verge of deliverance from the tentacles of loot and plunder, misrule and myopia, misogyny and emasculation, Khan faces a mountain of challenges, mostly emanating from the very forces which have held the national destiny hostage in the past seventy years. They are arrayed with their swords held high, threatening to bring him down.

 

Khan comes with a thumping verdict with the prospect of forming the governments at the centre as well as in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He may also be part of a coalition government in Balochistan while his nominee could be the leader of the opposition in Sindh. This, by itself, is nothing short of a miracle as Pakistan’s political parties had been reduced to provincial outfits with the majority party in Punjab also earning the prerogative to rule the country — an aspect that was immensely detrimental to the cause of the federation.

 

Khan contested from five constituencies representing the federal capital and the provinces of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh and won all of them. This is a definitive first, with ZA Bhutto having contested from four constituencies with victory in three in the 1970 elections. In comparison, his current-day adversaries fared poorly with Shahbaz Sharif losing in three out of four that he contested and Bilawal Zardari losing in two out of three. This, without doubt, establishes Khan’s stature as a national leader with a vast support base from all constituent units which augurs well for the federation.

 

Another phenomenal feature of the elections has been the abject failure of the religious parties to win the confidence of the electorate with the new, ultra-right bigots buried under the weight of their ignoble deeds. The heads of two other similar parties, Fazalur Rehman and Sirajul Haq, were knocked out through humiliating defeats while some of their political collaborators including the heads of the ANP, QWP and PKMAP also lost their seats in the parliament.

 

Having brought Pakistan to the verge of deliverance from the tentacles of loot and plunder, misrule and myopia, misogyny and emasculation, Khan faces a mountain of challenges, mostly emanating from the very forces which have held the national destiny hostage in the past seventy years. They are arrayed with their swords held high, threatening to bring him down.

 

Their protest does not relate to the performance of their political parties as they have never secured more seats on an average than they did this time. The principal issue angering them is that they’ll not have a seat in the next national assembly. They perceive this as a personal affront which is difficult to digest.

 

 

 

But an issue which is even more important is the fear that their brand of politics may be on its way out. They reflect the forces which have traditionally ruled Pakistan by misusing whatever instruments they had at their disposal, none more so than religion. They have sought their legitimacy in being decrepit pontiffs.

 

Khan represents a dynamic which is new in the political landscape of the country. Though this battle has been waged over a good part of the past two decades, it is only now that he sits in the saddle which increases the fear quotient among his adversaries that their political demise may be imminent. It is to nullify this prospect that these motley forces have joined hands in opposition to all that he stands for, and all that he may have on his platter to deliver.

 

Because of deep-rooted and widespread corruption, gross misrule and Machiavellian tactics of the status-quo mafias and their beneficiary elite, the state has weakened considerably over time. The economy is in tatters and, in addition to soliciting help from friendly countries, the threat of going back to the IMF looms.

 

The steps that the new government would need to take urgently include the empowerment of the institutions and building their capacities. They should be freed of the tentacles of the executive and allowed space to operate in an accountable and transparent manner. These institutions have been a drain in the past. Instead, they should be transformed into becoming pillars on which the edifice of a viable state would stand.

 

The sickening culture of loyalty to individuals must give way to merit and relevance. Let the very best be accorded the responsibility to transition the state to a healthier and more beneficent environment where it would be able to utilise all its faculties to the benefit of the poor and the underprivileged and deliver them from the bondage of economic captivity.

 

 

 

Most important of all, for democracy to flourish and gain strength, it would be vital to inculcate a democratic culture within the political parties. It would be a gross travesty for leaders to keep drumming for democracy in the country while remaining heads of family oligarchies.

 

It is also essential to remember why Khan has been chosen in preference to the ones who have held the destinies of millions hostage for decades. Khan stands for a much-awaited change. It is in implementing this dream that he poses the most significant challenge for himself. No one has expressed it better than that remarkable woman, Jemima. Talking of Khan’s success, she tweeted: “It’s an incredible lesson in tenacity, belief and refusal to accept defeat. The challenge now is to remember why he entered politics in the first place”.

 

Yes, why did Khan enter politics in the first place? Mildly put, it was to erase the footprints of rampant corruption and misrule, to deliver the people from economic enslavement and to guide the country towards adopting a progressive and enlightened polity that would be free of regressive and degenerate encumbrances. PTI’s future depends solely on its performance and delivery at the grassroots level as against multi-dimensional manipulation by the former leaders who held sway sitting atop money-making family enterprises.

 

Is Khan really up to it and would he be able to cope successfully with a host of challenges that are going to be thrown his way, may be even from within his own party? The people wait with baited breath.

 

Tailpiece: Pakistan has changed and it shall never be the same again like it has been for over seven decades. The only way out there is the way forward.