On April 21, 2022 the son of Lahore, Imran Khan (IK) roared at the historic Minar-e-Pakistan. As a national leader, he did not target state institutions; instead he offered a pragmatic solution to the current impasse, his demand of free and fair elections made perfect sense.

It was here on October 30, 2011 that he emerged as a hope for the nation. By the time he reached the city of Quaid on December 25, 2011 he and his party had both been hijacked by the age-old players of the status-quo. He then decided to build a ‘Naya Pakistan’ with a team that lacked his spirit and commitment to change.

Iqbal’s dream and the relentless struggle of Jinnah for the formation of an Islamic Republic in the Indian subcontinent were both dashed. After the Karachi Jalsa, Comrade Ahsan Rashid, the Chou-En-Lai of PTI had arranged a dinner at the Sheraton Hotel where both the old guard and the new entrants sat across the table to break bread.

It proved to be the proverbial last supper for the ideologues who had built the movement with their sweat and blood. Despite the warnings, IK fell into the trap of the age old electables who had a poor track record of meaningful delivery.

Last night, he wanted a fresh start both for himself and the state functionaries who were responsible for the current mess before it turns into a costly blunder. In December 1971, another elected leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), in his opening speech to the nation, talked about putting the fragmented pieces of the nation together.

Instead of bifurcation, there should be unification to move forward. The message was loud and clear, the people of Pakistan desire freedom to choose their friends and chart their future course of action.

After 9/11, the republic was threatened to clean the mess left behind for which there was severe collateral damage. Finally, when the lone superpower was forced to retreat, again Pakistan had to play a thankless role. There has to be a limit of being repeatedly misused by this distant so-called friend.

As the first-born free generation of Pakistan, we have lived through this charade. When will the Islamic Republic of Pakistan focus on its people? Focused national growth of the republic took place under real civilian rule (1947 to 1958, 1971 to 1977, 2018 to 2022).

The so-called golden era of Ayub Khan turned the republic into a debtor nation which has continued unabated. The debt now seems insurmountable. Dr Miftah Ismail, the incoming finance minister, is currently in Washington negotiating with the IMF for another tranche of loan. Borrowed money cannot build nations, it requires toil and blood.

Pakistan has been a constitutional democracy since August 14, 1973 yet the sacred document has never been implemented in letter and spirit. Though the recent No Confidence Motion (NCM) was constitutional, its methodology and fall out was seriously flawed. The country and its institutions must come before individuals.

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email: fmaliks@hotmail.com

The country and its institutions must come before individuals.