WHEN ambitious or strayed individuals inadvertently, subconsciously or by design exceed their brief in self-interest over the State construct, they only expose their own limitations as leaders. I am afraid this shortcoming has rendered virtually all prospective leadership in Pakistan pathetically short of the benchmark to match national goals and aspirations. One can only exclude from the lot for the time being, the current Prime Minister, the only untried commodity on the National level who deserves a chance to prove his metal as also recently hinted by the visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammad.
Bilawal Zardari still not sure what lineage to adopt from his parents, spilled the beans the other day by thoughtlessly accusing Imran Khan’s Government of protecting proscribed organizations and their leaders and taking cosmetic measures in arresting them only to protect them from the Indian barrage. There cannot be a more damaging statement serving the enemy rhetoric than this irresponsible and unfounded utterance which the political prodigy of a disarrayed People’s Party continues to exacerbate, making it worse for himself. The lad still on the learning curve ought to have been advised to let the father defend his family’s questionably amassed fortunes instead of sticking his own neck out without realizing what he was talking about in retaliation to being made answerable by the NAB and the courts of law.
Mian Nawaz Sharif, dismally lacking in communication skills fell foul of the very nursery that nurtured him and whose powers, role and position in the State Complex he twice miscalculated. He never really rose to become a genuine political leader nor had the charismatic following enjoyed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or his daughter Benazir. Pakistan’s political leadership unfortunately has grossly underestimated its electorate which now refuses to be used as a peg to beef up their personal fortunes, in the process badly mauling common man’s dreams of a better tomorrow. Such leadership will henceforth continue to be shown door as done over the last decade.
Ironically, it has been military dictatorships during which some signs of economic stability have been noticed; though in hindsight only allowed superficially by Pakistan’s imperial masters pumping in dollars in lieu of subservience and compliance to their strategic interests to which national interests were invariably compromised. Barring the self-styled Field Marshal Ayub Khan who at least salvaged something for the nation’s future by way of the three major multipurpose dams bringing a green revolution in the country, both Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf let the nation down by playing the mercenary role and offering its territory to be used against neighbouring Afghanistan which till date is costing dearly.
While Ziaul Haq woke up far too late to the reality in opposing the post-Soviet exit Geneva Accord to be eventually eliminated, only an absconding commando awaiting trial for high treason and a failed politician like Pervez Musharraf heading a political party groping to find a Deputy leave alone having any mentionable political following, could naively venture into an over-simplified out-of-the-box solution of the chronic issue of Kashmir, and attempt to develop relations with Israel to tackle India. The blighter forgets Israeli collusion with India and planned attacks against Pakistan and its nuclear assets though pre-empted and frustrated by Pakistan’s impregnable defence establishment by the grace of Almighty. Despite being made aware of the covert escapades and designs of both these countries against Pakistan and Palestine in particular but Muslims in general, his atrocious suggestion comes with the revelation he had the cheek to make that he had himself attempted establishing rapport with Israel which responded within 24 hours.
It was time to demand details from the absconding Commando whose pearls of wisdom a certain TV Channel continues to project, as to what extent he had offered to compromise the interests of the State with Israel; an avowed enemy accomplice while attempting to establish rapport with it, just like he did in laying prostrate to the US against Afghanistan, making Pakistan fight a war which never belonged to it nor caused by it, and for which it was until this day paying a heavy price. Pakistani media which have in general by contrast to India demonstrated responsible journalism is perhaps giving space to such a character unwittingly, only ending up mirroring the extent of his foresight and diplomatic capacity which if anything was exposing the man’s limitations with every word he utters.
There is no myth in the argument extended by some in favour of Pervez Musharraf that in his time the value of Pakistani rupee remained stable at Rs 60/- to a dollar. It was so because he bartered away his country’s sovereignty to the United States which was more than obliged to look after the interests of the man (much less the State) who did far more than he was asked to do. Luckily today in the saddle in Pakistan is someone who has so far demonstrated that he will under no circumstances, be dictated to compromise national interests. Having said that, the skipper has far more on his plate now in leading a Country than he had in martial ling a cricketing outfit and raising donations for a hospital or a university which he should stop harping on.
The World Bank has capsulised the road to success for Imran Khan’s Pakistan by population control, tax reforms, effective harnessing of water resources and raising budget for health and education, which call for visible revolutionary steps. He must focus on harnessing resources, raise productivity and strengthen Parliament by his presence and garnering its support instead of antagonizing the Opposition. He must realize that he neither has unlimited powers like the Saudi Crown Prince nor the economic strength of Mahatir Mohammad, and must therefore climb down in humility to strike consensus on matters of national importance such as unbiased across-the-board accountability, implementation of the National Action Plan, building dams and speedy realization of the CPEC dream to usher in real development.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.