The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has turned into the land of the Darbaris (Courtiers). Political leaders make tall promises to the nation but once in the corridors of power, they get trapped. Many in the bureaucracy have special skills to please the boss and then surround him/her. Some of them always remain in power while others remain loyal to the party leadership. Party jumpers were hit hard by the recent Supreme Court decision when twenty lawmakers lost their seats in the Punjab Assembly. In the re-elections that followed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was able to grab back fifteen seats which resulted in the collapse of the Hamza Shehbaz government. The country’s largest province is now back with PTI while the federally imposed coalition government finds itself cornered.

When Ayub Khan, the first usurper was toppled by his Army Chief General Yahya Khan, the old workers started praising the new boss. Qudrutullah Shahab Sahib was the Principal Secretary to the President at that time like Azam Khan was to Imran Khan during his recent regime. Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister (PSPM) is a key player in the administrative set-up. The exploits of Azam Khan as PSPM are now being exposed. Imran Khan (IK) should appoint a better person to run the PM Secretariat to improve delivery in his next stint in power. Shahab Sahib, a very respected bureaucrat, refused to serve under the new ‘king’. Before he left the court, he warned the General that these very courtiers till yesterday were heaping the same praises on the previous now deposed ‘king’. By not getting rid of the dirt by making a fresh start, the second usurper was trapped from day one.

In a world driven by technology, continuous improvement is the way forward, only change is permanent for which new players are needed. In the words of Allama Iqbal; “Hazar au Mujid Say Bezar Karay” (Not being satisfied by the status-quo). Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was able to deliver change and good governance due to his fresh players, not the old and failed lot who were part of the problem. The current decline that started with General Zia-ul-Haq the third usurper continues unabated as the workers remain unchanged. On social media, several posts appear that compare the cabinet members of the fourth dictator with the ones that followed, unfortunately, many faces remain common today. Like ZAB, IK started well. While ZAB was trapped after a few years in power (by 1975) IK was not that lucky. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) reached its political peak in the Lahore Jalsa on October 30, 2011, with the help of new players the ‘Comrades of Change’ who could deliver the ‘Haqiqi Azadi’ that IK is now fighting for.

After the jalsa, Comrade Ahsan Rashid arranged a lavish dinner at Sheraton Hotel where the old PTI idealogues shared bread with the new electables who were now assigned to lead the charge. Everyone seemed excited about the induction of Javed Hashmi and Shah Mahmood Qureshi. When I could take it no longer, I posed a simple question; “What cabinets have they been a part of?” There was no answer, only silence. I was then reminded of Einstein’s famous saying: “We cannot solve problems with the help of the people who created them.” The message should be understood loud and clear: ‘courtiers cannot deliver’, they can only provide a short-term lull before the storm comes with its devastation like the floods that we are under today. Pakistan is back in the stormy weather and will remain there till the exit of the courtiers.