Naya Pakistan


Totally feasible but requires hard work



A “Naya Pakistan” is in the making. As the first born-free generation, we have seen both the making and un-making of the motherland. In 1947 the focus was on building a homeland for the Muslims of India. Despite several teething problems of the first Islamic democracy, the country was in the safe hands of the founding fathers. Except for Baboo Ghulam Muhammed the political arena was corruption free till 1958.

As a child growing up in the centre of Lahore, I could feel the energy and spirit all around. Institution building was the order of the day. Anna Molka Ahmed at the Fine Arts Department of Punjab University, Shakir Ali at NCA, Dr Niaz at Institute of Chemical Engineering, Dr Chaughtai at Institute of Chemistry, Dr Abdullah at Urdu Encyclopedia of Islam, Patras Bokhari and then Dr Nazir at Government College, Dr Imdad at MAO College, Prof Hamid Ahmed Khan at Islamia College, just to name a few luminaries.

In January 1958, I was admitted to Cathedral High School on the Mall close to where we lived, this was 10 months before the so-called October Revolution which derailed the entire democratic order. Nasir Bagh, or Gol Bagh as it was called then, was our playing ground. Every year after October 27, 1958, the revolution was celebrated at the Town Hall. Huge portraits of Iqbal and Ayub Khan were displayed, with the one being presented as the initiator and the other as the saviour of Pakistan. As a child I could not understand what he was trying to save. My father, who was himself a worker of the movement, could not answer my questions as he was confused himself. Then in 1959 my uncle, who was a progressive writer and poet, went on an open protest with a hunger strike camp right across from the secretariat. He had three demands: Army to go back to the barracks, investigation of the murder of the first prime minister and withdrawal of agencies harassing progressive civilians. The same demands continue till day. Like General Sissi of Egypt, General Ayub’s task was well defined: to get rid of the founding fathers and weaken civilian institutions.

Overnight the ‘democratic demons’ were introduced to replace the seasoned and honest political leadership. River Ravi, the lifeline of Lahore, became a sewage dump. On inquiry I was told that three rivers had been surrendered to India against all international laws. Aftab Ahmed Khan, a senior bureaucrat and former principal secretary to Suharwardy, wrote to Ayub Khan urging him to return to the barracks for the sake of unity of Pakistan. He was imprisoned on charges of treason. His lovely but highly distressed wife came to Lahore and prayed at the shrine of Data sahib for his release. By now it was clear that Quaid’s Pakistan had been hijacked and Ayub Khan was no saviour.

Finally, in 1971, the inevitable happened. Pakistan was dismembered, the Eastern Wing decided to separate itself. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) as leader of what remained of the country coined the phrase “Naya Pakistan”. He picked up the pieces, pushed the khakis back into the barracks and was surrounded by a fresh team of untainted and untested politicians. The 1973 constitution was the hallmark of this era. Till the military action in Balochistan in 1975, “Naya Pakistan” was on track and then the khakis and the ‘demons’ returned to the corridors of power. ZAB had been trapped. All the so called electable were with Quaid-e-Awam while the comrades of change were either kicked out of the party or cornered. Like General Ayub, General Zia’s task was clearly defined. Get rid of the genuine democratic leadership, introduce an unpopular brand of fanatics to be used later and weaken/destroy civilian institutions. General Musharraf’s task was different, he wanted to reverse the fanatic gains of Zia era and produce fresh set of ‘democratic demons’ to replace the old. He too opted for the referendum to legitimise his rule and disfigured the already de-shaped 1973 constitution.

With the khakis and the ‘democratic demons’ in the arena, “Naya Pakistan” cannot become a reality. Initially the founding fathers built Pakistan when the khakis were in barracks with no ‘demons’ around (1947 – 1958). Then the saviours took control and dismembered Quaid’s Pakistan (1958 – 1971). ZAB’s “Naya Pakistan” was then built from the ashes of war and defeat (1971 – 1977). The saviours and the ‘demons’ got together again, which has taken the country back to the brink of breakup (1977 – to date).

The Kaptan desires to build “Naya Pakistan”. He has challenged the ‘demons of democracy’ whose days are now numbered. There is no room for them in “Naya Pakistan” but how he deals with the khakis will be the deciding factor. PTI and its rank and file were never and will never be a B team of the establishment. Otherwise, they too will become a part of the ‘demon network’. Even “lotacracy” cannot push the party in this direction.

Pakistan Army is the only functional institution left in the country. The situation was the same on August 14, 1947, when the journey of the republic started. Then their misguided leadership decided to become the saviours of the country. This is not their role; they belong to the barracks where they train and the borders where they defend, leaving the political leadership to the duly elected representatives of the people through an honest ballot. The democratic demons created by them cannot play this role.

It is widely believed that the khakis can be pushed back to the barracks through good governance as was done by Erdogan in Turkey. General Raheel Sharif is a professional soldier with solid family military connections and credentials of gallantry. Pakistan Army is in safe hands under his leadership. The two Kaptans, one of the people and the other of the khakis, can work out a plan to return the power to the masses by taking the khakis back to the barracks where they belong. In the words of ZAB: Takat ka sarchasma awam hein”. The foundation of “Naya Pakistan” has to be based on this approach with exorcism of the ‘demons’ and de-militarisation of civilian sector.