Prime Minister Imran Khan is leading the nation in testing times. As representative of the first-born free generation of Pakistan, he leads from the front. He launched his political innings in 1996 through his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Born and raised in Lahore, he proceeded to Oxford University on a cricket scholarship. His father Ikramullah Khan Niazi was a civil engineer who earned his Master’s degree from Imperial College, London and served his profession well.On the other hand, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) ruled the country in the 1970s. Born in Larkana, he was the son of a well-known Sindhi leader Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and then was called to the bar in London. He entered politics for the first time as a minister in Iskander Mirza’s cabinet then Ayub Khan’s. In 1967, he formed his own political party by the name of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which was a center-left, progressive entity. During the 1970 general elections, he won 81 out of 138 national assembly seats in the Western wing. However, after the 1971 war,his government (formed in 1972) was toppled in 1977 and was eliminated through a judicial murder in 1979. As a nation we have wasted several decade sowing fake, imposed and corrupt leaderships. After Bhutto, this is the first time that the man on the top has stood up for the nation. All decisions are being taken in best national interests. As a genuinely elected leader,Khan does not seek political legitimacy as he already enjoys that through his struggled and popularity.In the chequered political history of Pakistan, only two political parties stand out (PPP, PTI) that were not conceived and then nourished by the establishment. There is a long list of ‘sarkari’ political outfits and the corrupt to the core politicians that were able to dominate the political arena through them. But unfortunately, we have been unkind to kind leadership. Starting with the murder of first PM Liaquat Ali Khan, maltreatment of Qayyum Khan, killing of Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, judicial elimination of ZAB, ouster of Muhammad Khan Junejo; the list is long. There is also an exhaustive blacklist of third-rate leaders that were experimented with. The evergreen Chaudhry brothers of Gujrat and the Sharifs of Lahore are amongst them. As a genuinely elected leader, Khan does not seek political legitimacy as he already enjoys that through his struggles and popularityThough Imran Khan is being called a ‘selected PM’ but the truth is to the contrary.Indeed he enjoys the support of the establishment, but his real strength lies at the ballot box. He does not seek political legitimacy as he has earned it unlike the Chaudhrys or Sharifs.With a popularly elected leader, the future of Pakistan is in safe hands as has been demonstrated in the recent crisis. There will be no compromise on national interests. While the atomic programme and the 1973 constitution was a gift of the Bhutto regime, Imran is destined to bring back the honour and dignity that we rightly deserve in the comity of nations. In the past forty years we have been let down by leaders like Zia, Nawaz, Musharraf etc. who were willing to work on external agendas to extend their misrule. It is a great blessing that the political leadership and the establishment are on the same page as the threat is external while the PM is focused on nation building and the containment of corruption, the armed forces are ensuring our security and territorial integrity. This certainly is the way forward. For the sake of the motherland every institution must play its role within the domain set by the constitution.Only credible political leadership can take the country forward. People’s power must prevail. Establishment both internal and external does not have the credentials to lead, at best they can maintain status-quo which they have been doing for over seven decades. Imposed political players have played havoc with the country and its meagre resources. In Pakistan, it has been repeatedly tried with disastrous consequences.Unfortunately, in most Islamic countries, the establishments have been instrumental in derailing democracy. Recent examples have been Egypt and Algeria where the people’s mandate has been overruled by despots through fake ballots. Turkey’s transition to real democracy has been remarkable. With the solid support of the masses Tayyip Erdogan has been able to develop his country while containing the establishment. In Ataturk’s republic, the armed forces were given constitutional powers to take over the government as desired. Erdogan has converted Turkey into apeople’s republic. The secular ‘Ataturk’ era is now over. The establishment can no longer take control of the country and the constitution has been amended to restore people’s power.Nations must learn from history. We must stand up and be counted. Societies must nurture rather than crush its leaderships, as witnessed historically. Leaders are moulded through decades of struggle and sacrifice. Both internal and external establishments have to be kept at bay.The writer is ex-Chairman Pakistan Science FoundationPublished in Daily Times, March 13th 2019.