When will we learn?

Credible ballot drives democracy in the absence of which it remains derailed. Unfortunately in emerging democracies like Pakistan both parties and government are centred around individuals, resulting in a phenomena called “Altaf Bhai’. It does not end here: in order to maintain control of the party the “Bhai’s” use their influence and authority to contain dissent, debate and discussion – without which no democratic order can function. It is invariably either my way or the highway.

Recently on a visit to Portland a Bengali friend asked me an interesting question. When and where was all India Muslim League formed? On my prompt reply, ‘Decca 1906” he was pleasantly surprised. He then went on to discuss the plight of the Bengali Muslims which necessitated the need for a separate party. It was this entity that eventually led the freedom movement for the creation of Pakistan. The Lahore resolution of 1940 was drafted by another Bengali leader Maulana Fazal-ul-Haq who had the title of Sher-e-Bengal.

After partition Jinnah wanted to steer the country and the party towards real democracy. He drafted the party constitution on the implementation of which Inter Party Elections (IPE) were to be held. Even the father of the nation faced a lot of resistance from his own party and decided to walk away. He continued as Governor General but severed his links with the Muslim League. After his death Khawaja Nazimuddin a Bengali political stalwart of the movement was elevated as head of state.

Pakistan was created through the ballot and only that can sustain it. Over the years we have not been able to instil the respect for the electoral process. As students in the sixties and seventies we were exposed to student politics. Most campuses were ideologically driven Elections were well contested despite the high handedness of Jamaat-e-Islami backed Islami Jamiat-e-Tulba. During the Zia era the unions were banned but the Jamiat was not touched. Political manipulation started to make the Muslim League become a mistress of the establishment. Various factious emerged. No one knows now which the real Muslim League is anymore. In 2006 the faction in power (PML-Q) celebrated its 100th anniversary. Articles appeared in the press. It was the same party that offered to elect the fourth Khaki dictator as President in uniform for ten times and yet claimed to be a political outfit.

In 1967 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto formed his Peoples party as a left of centre ideological movement. After him the leadership was passed on to his wife Nusrat Bhutto, then daughter Benazir and now finally his grandson Bilawal. PML (N) has a established hierarchy of leadership. It is all between Nawaz, Shahbaz, Mariam and Hamza. MQM was launched by GHQ during the Zia era to counter PPP in Urban Sindh. Most founders of the party have met violent deaths only a few remain. Altaf Hussain has been in self exile for decades while Farooq Sattar operates in Karachi under instructions from his master in London. All orders are carried out, those who dare to dissent have to disappear at times permanently.

Imran Khan launched Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in April 1996 as a party of change opposed to dynasties by making a fresh start. The repeated failures of PPP and various PML governments through PTI into limelight as a logical third option as it was composed of untainted individuals. Founders like Ahsan Rashid worked hard to organize the party at the gross root level.

In order to contain the influence of Bhais and Bhabis in parties and movements, structure and sharing of responsibility always helps. While the Chinese revolution was ably led by Mao Tse Tung it was well managed by Chou-en-Lai. It was Chou’s brilliance and his fresh approaches to management that led to success. People’s party was ably led by ZAB but it had outstanding secretary General’s like J. A. Rahim, Dr Mubashir Hassan and Dr. Ghulam Hussain who managed it well. PTI started off well with comrades of change in important positions. Ahsan Rashid played a pivotal role in organizing the party in Punjab and was in the fore front in the Lawyers Movement. Party had full time secretary Generals like Comrade Mairaj Muhammad Khan, Air Marshal ® Shahid Zulfiqar and Dr. Arif Alvi. Pervez Khattak was the first elected secretary General of the party who preferred to take on the mantle of Chief Minister KPK and left the position. Since 2013 the party has been without a full time and permanent Secretary General.

Since Dec 25, 2011 the influence of Altaf Bhais has increased manifold within the party. The structures, organization and systems that launched the party on October 30, 2011 have been weakened by the induction of individuals from parties ruled by the likes of Altaf Hussains. Instead of open discussion and consultative decision making, core teams and kitchen cabinets have taken over. Kaptaan’s party of change is losing its edge. In the recent election debacle in Karachi constituency of NA 245 the PTI candidate decided to embrace the original Altaf Hussains of MQM leaving the look alikes behind and bewildered. Now that cracks have started to appear within the ranks of Altaf Hussain’s forces as mistakes have been realized by them it is time to cleanse the party of change of his unholy influences of authoritarianism and barbarism. In Naya Pakistan there is no room for Altafs as that era has to come to an end for the nation to move forward.

Dr Farid A Malik

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