Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), in the seventies, said, “If I am assassinated, the Himalayas will cry, the water of the Indus will turn red”. With his popularity and charisma, he was convinced that no one could dare to harm him. He faced his trial with confidence and even addressed the judges of the Supreme Court in the final days of his appeal. On April 04, 1979, in the early hours, the Quaid-e-Awam, Fakhar-e-Asia was hanged to death by Tara Masih in the Chaklala Jail. His body was flown to his native village in Larkana where he was buried quietly by a few of his native villagers. Despite being a very shrewd politician, he had underestimated the evil that existed within the system. Like ZAB, Imran Khan (IK), the popular leader of our times, also believed that he could weather any storm as he was honest and upright, there were no files on his corruption nor any court cases. Brimming with confidence, he made promises to the nation that he would bring positive changes within the first 100 days in power. He tried, but the inertia within the administrative set-up was overwhelming; he too had miscalculated the evil that existed within. Finally, on April 09, 2022, he was sent home through a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.

Our transition to freedom has been bumpy. In the political history of Pakistan, there has been only one free and fair election in 1970 which resulted in the dismemberment of Quaid’s Pakistan as power was not transferred to the elected leadership. The Eastern Wing under the Awami League decided to go its way after a bloody encounter. Today, Bangladesh has emerged as an economic power leaving both India and Pakistan behind. The freedom movement that had started at Decca in 1906 with the formation of the All-India Muslim League (AIML) finally culminated in their real freedom in the year 1971. ZAB came to power in what remained of the original Pakistan. He moved fast to put the scattered pieces together. After the implementation of the 1973 constitution, a democracy called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan emerged, with ZAB its first elected Prime Minister (PM). Institution building started with a focus on relief to the public. With major passport reforms, Pakistanis travelled all over the world seeking greener pastures. Today, this expatriate community sustains the nation with their much-needed foreign exchange remittances. The nuclear programme was launched to ensure the security and territorial integrity of the country.

Though the constitution was enacted with the unanimous support of the legislature, it has neither been followed nor respected. ZAB himself opted for military action in 1975 in Balochistan after dismissing the coalition government of NAP and JUI (National Awami Party, Jamat-e-Ulema Islam). Wali Khan, the leader of the opposition was arrested and tried by a special tribunal set up in Hyderabad. Later on, after his regime was toppled, it was revealed that it was done under pressure from the establishment. ZAB even parted ways with his progressive Comrades like Dr Mubashir Hasan, Hanif Ramay, Mairaj Muhammad Khan etc. After the mammoth Lahore Jalsa of October 30, 2011, IK fell into the same trap. He left behind the party ideologues to team up with tried and failed establishment politicians hoping to deliver change with them but found himself cornered and surrounded by forces of the status quo.

In the year 1988, ZAB’s daughter Benazir had to compromise to gain power despite being the largest party in the elected legislature. IK too had to deal with the establishment to become the PM.

There are about twenty clauses covering human rights in the document, yet not one of them has ever been implemented. Every known trick has been used to disfigure the agreement between the rulers and the ruled, tilting the balance against the weaker segments of the population. In the words of Comrade Aitzaz Ahsan, “Riasat Ho Gi Ma Jaise” (The State will act like a mother). Unfortunately, the state of Pakistan has acted like a wicked stepmother, mostly working against the interests of its children, this has to change for the republic to emerge. ZAB never got a second chance, IK may get one for which he must come prepared to overcome the evil that exists within the system. Compromises will not work, the enemy within has to be understood, exposed and then dealt with. No good can be expected from evil, the sufferings of the nation must come to an end.