Leadership patterns in Pakistan

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Mansoor Akbar Kundi

LEADERSHIP patterns in Pakistan are no exception to general rule. The three major bases on which leadership is generally built are of charismatic, rational and traditional. They all play role in leadership build up. However, the two bases of charismatic and rational have hand in glove relationship and are more closer to each other than traditional ones. In Pakistan rational and charismatic bases of support are not very strong, they should have been. The traditional ones have become stronger over the years. The rational and charismatic bases of support in Pakistan are not stronger as there is an imbalance in the societal structure. Had there been a universal and good public school system where a rich and poor could possibly pursue his studies, the charismatic bases of leadership support would have been stronger and people from lower and middle class could be brought into streamline.
History shows that majority of the leaders reaching the top through charismatic channel belonged to lower and middle class provided there were equal chances of social existence of which good public schooling and representative system are greatly instrumental. Why democracy, particularly where a viable local bodies system exists, is regarded as a good system of governance because it supports charismatic and rational bases of leadership and brings equilibrium to the social and political system of state. Local bodies institutions promote democracy at micro level in many political scientists’ analysis support charismatic leadership. Turkey which local bodies system is more than 130 years old is a leading example of it. Majority of the leadership in national cadre come up from the local bodies setup.
Charismatic leadership in Pakistan channeled through rational lines can broadly be divided into three categories: political, military and civil. The civil includes bureaucratic and non bureaucratic elements of society. A CSS officer entering civil service cadre after qualifying the competitive examination is rational based with achievements, promotions and interactions later in life as his charismatic profile. In case his father or close relative enjoyed an echelon position in bureaucracy can have inherited base to his credit too. Similarly, the regional quota and residency can add to one’s inherited support. Many names can be cited to this list.
Similarly, a young cadet passing out of Pakistan Military Academy as a 2nd lieutenant starts a journey with its peak in career as a COAS. Army in past have ruled the country with COAS as the strong head of the state. Appointments and promotions in army are largely based on charismatic and rational bases, but inherited lines can may difference. Raheel Sharif, a charismatic COAS had to his credit the family background as traditional support due to services his family rendered to the country. His family background was an adding factor in his final selection as COAS.
Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif as politicians, along many others, can be cited as those come on rational and charismatic bases without any support of inherited bases. Imran’s entrance into politics was based on his achievements and personality without any inherited support. Similarly, Nawaz Sharif though belonged to affluence class and was picked and recommended by General Ghulam Jilani as Finance Minister did not have any inherited support. Her daughter though meeting charismatic and rational lines owes to the fact that her recognition largely comes on inherited lines.
The traditional/inherited bases of leadership in Pakistan have become stronger over the years. The feudal and industrial class enjoy traditional bases of support. The moneyed class which have assumed in country’s economic and political affairs can be put under the category. They enjoy an important social status exercising a considerable influence in country’s affairs. They own newspapers, TV channels, educational institutions and offshore enterprises. The class has grown since 1977 with 1985 non-party elections facilitating them in politics by becoming MPAs, MNAs and Senators. Similarly, the landlords and businessmen are forces with traditional support who during last many years have permeated politics. Traditional forces with powerful role in country’s politics hinders a true representative system. It is true in case of Pakistan. They in large believe to be a part of each government to keep their vested interests at par. They have louder say in major political parties’ decisions. The case of Jehangir Tareen in PTI is a leading example who with his business profile made a place in the party. In the wake of his disqualification, immediately his son appeared as his successor to contest the NA seat.
Traditional forces have been playing an influential role in the democratic process of the country since its inception. They are not supportive of a true representative system. Had there been a continuity of democracy in Pakistan with party politics taking roots in masses, the traditional forces would not have been that stronger, but unfortunately the discontinuation of democratic order and longer period of military rule strengthened the traditional forces. Traditional forces though in politics and sit in assemblies, however, they are not supportive of a good representative system. They in large have joined the process to continue and further their interests.
— The writer teaches in the department of Politics and International relations.