The father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah often talked about the ‘Khota Sikka, (counterfeit coins) in the ranks of Muslim League, where it seems such fake currency has been in circulation since the very beginning. Even, movies were made and songs composed on this unique topic, both in Bollywood and Lollywood.

There was a time when coins were widely used, with Pakistan Mint established outside Lahore about a century ago. It produced coins of various denominations, where in addition to being a legal tender every ‘Sikka’ had to be compositionally correct, to hold its value. Only the one paisa coin could not carry its worth so it had a hole in the middle. There were even shops in Anarkali Bazar near Lohari Gate that traded in ‘Khota Sikka’. After evaluation, the coin was downgraded invalue and then procured becoming a one window operation where it was checked, evaluated, and finally recycled as a full legal tender.

Those were honest times where trustworthiness and integrity were revered, not ridiculed. Corrupt practices were looked down upon, and finger pointing and rumors were taken seriously. A Punjabi word ‘Ulama’ (blame) was widely avoided, where most people believed in the motto ‘Death before Dishonour’. In other words one lived and died for honor: Individuals and families with bad reputation ostracized in marriages and relationships. Hence, purity of blood, livelihood and Rizk-e-halal was of paramount importance.

The corruption started with establishment politics in the fifties, after the murder of the first Prime Minister Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, where naturally the first to favorably respond were the ‘Khota Sikka’ having serious issues of acceptability and performance. Politics of service to the people was replaced by exploitation, where instead of giving, taking became the norm. Businesses all over the world exercise political influence, but never indulge directly in politics. In Pakistan however, this cardinal principal was also violated.

There is a serious conflict of interest when lawmakers are the direct beneficiaries of the laws they make. First it was Ittefaq Group and now it is the Sharif Group that has become very wealthy ever since the brothers came into power. Captain (Retd.) Gohar Ayub Khan, the heir apparent to the Ayub Dynasty had a scooter loan in October 1958, when his father became President. In March 1969 when the dictator was forced to leave the prince was one of the richest men in the country.

Unfortunately as he was only half educated, he was unable to contest the elections in 2002, later replaced by his son. One ‘Khota Sikka’ was replaced by another, with the circulation of ‘bogus’ currency continuing.

The flawed mint of establishment politics supported by manipulated ballots can only produce counterfeit coins which have no value. Political leadership can only emerge through grass root support achieved through public service. According to the ‘Kaptaan’ himself when he was asked to join the government by Pervez Musharraf he asked about other members of his team. As the list was pitiful and consisted mostly of ‘Khota Sikka’, he declined to join and rightly warned the General that these individuals will make him sink. ‘Kaptaan’s prophecy proved right. The fourth Khaki dictator who was once promised to be elected ten times in uniform had to go home in disgrace, where his team caused his downfall. These contagious individuals have now joined the main stream parties, including PTI.

What harm can be caused by Kaptaan’s ‘Khota Sikka’? What can these defaced coins buy for the Kaptaan’? The Coin changers’ of Anarkali invariably had the ‘Khota Sikka’ re-melted, where after removing ‘Khot’ the purified metal was sold to the mint where it was used for marking fresh coins. There was no chance of re-circulating the counterfeit currency; it had to be dismantled.

Quaid-e-Azam referred to ‘Khota Sikka’s’ in his pocket only, where he safely kept them there not to be used or projected as useful currency. It was only after his death that some of these political counterfeits landed on the centre stage, but never in his lifetime. The Daultana-Mamdot feud in Punjab started soon after, which destabilized the country.

Dealing with counterfeits is dangerous business. Keeping them contained in the pocket is even more difficult. When Jinnah took charge of the All India Muslim League he was a leading lawyer with solid professional credentials, where No one ever dared to cross the line with him. His evaluation and analysis were un-matched and his work was meticulous. One can say, that he was way ahead of the leaders of his times.

Kaptaan’s political innings started in April 1996, where his struggle has now entered the 19th year. So far he remains un-tainted. He has already apologized for supporting Pervez Musharraf’s referendum. Now he has to deal with ‘Khota Sikka’ from the Zia and Musharraf Mints. Just like the Quaid, will he be able to contain them in his pocket or will they continue to occupy the center stage with him?

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is a party of the pure with no experience or exposure to handle the counterfeits. Contamination is not easy to contain, as it does not operate under rules of morality and fair play. For purification ,‘Khota Sikka’ were invariably re-melted and then re-minted not just buffed and polished to be put back into circulation. Even with change of face or party ‘Khota Sikka’ carries the ‘Khot’ (impurity) which has to be removed through a complete re-melt followed by re-minting which has not taken place. ‘Khot’ remains ‘Khot’ which has to be removed if performance is desired. With the counterfeits around, even Kaptaan’s credentials have been put to a test and are being stretched to the hilt. How long will he be able to carry this burden and why?