Leadership’s choice – where to belong

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Zaheer Bhatti

Rewind 25 years; PML(N) vows to break the begging bowl with its slogan ‘Qarz utaro Mulk sanwaaro’ while subsequently together with the resurgent PPP under a so-called Charter of Democracy, they resolved to keep at bay dictatorial military regimes which they considered the bane of Pakistan’s sovereign being, development and prosperity. People then sensed a ray of hope, but a quarter of a century down line, with power appearing to be their only goal, these very political outfits have failed to harness abounding indigenous resources, and instead gloat about success at International borrowings and certification of their conduct by strangling masses.
These representatives of the people have pushed future generations into perpetual slavery of their foreign masters; add to it their incapacity to swiftly probe and bring alleged traitors to justice, one each from the Military and the civilian set-up.
It is also a pity that while Pakistan has played host to millions of Afghan Refugees for over three decades, many of them in turn are paying back by playing mercenary role and operating against Pakistan. And by contrast, successive Governments have failed to protect and accommodate a mere couple of hundred thousand East Pakistanis who pledged support to an undivided Pakistan, and left them to tyranny of the pro-Indian Hasina Wajid’s Government.
Pakistan’s priorities at home are ironically based on cosmetic milestones of development such as the Metro Bus service and Orange Line Metro Train for chosen urban centers besides distorting the historic look of old cities while displacing tens of thousands of the population. How callous can you be to bulldoze homes of a multitude of masses with or without providing them with alternate accommodation? To say that they are being given compensation reflects the apathy of the rulers towards the ones whose maneuvered vote they ascribe to themselves the right to rule.
Besides, whosoever may be the consulting architect and planner of the so-called public Metro Bus services for the twin-cities, the authorities according approval to the project ought to explain why the only presentable main Boulevard, the Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad, has been aesthetically disfigured and disoriented besides exposing the entire Metropolitan city population to an un-ending ordeal of diversions for over two years now, which had been initially promised to end by June last year.
One often wonders why leadership in various countries is not mindful of the ultimate fate and place to which they will be consigned in history, more importantly over their Foreign Policy, which required the courage of one’s convictions as displayed by Liaqat Ali Khan when the country was still in its nascent years. His only mistake but a vital one in view of Pakistan’s strategic geographic location, was that he had accepted the invitation from Washington in preference to one from the Kremlin for his maiden visit to a Super Power. This unwittingly allowed Pakistan into the Imperial lap and trap, further compounded by Ayub Khan acquiescing to fly the American U-2 from a Pakistani Base.
Tariq Choudhry was dart right in reminiscing that Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan refused to succumb to US dictates to use his influence with Iran to help it wrest Iranian oil contracts from European countries in its favour, and also did not oblige the Super Power to send Pakistani Forces to Cambodia in the supreme national interest. But when the US threatened the Pakistani Premier as a consequence, he ordered all US military assets to quit Pakistani soil. Liaqat Ali Khan was eliminated as a consequence, as was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and later his daughter Benazir for reneging from a pledge to work with their hand-picked dictators; so were Ziaulhaq and Pakistan’s former Air Chief Mus’haf Ali Mir for showing dissent and opposing the Imperialist game-plan.
There indeed is a price to pay for displaying the courage of one’s convictions as was paid by Dr. Mussadaq of Iran, Abdul Karim Qasim of Iraq and Shah Faisal of Saudi Arabia who in turn have been immortalized for their steadfastness. There are though various categories of leaders remembered for different reasons; one standing up to be counted besides the above were Chinese Mao Tse tung and Chou En Lai, Geoge Washington, Franklin Roosevelt and Matin Luther King of the US, Pakistan’s Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Venezuelan Hugo Chavez, Nelson Mandella of South Africa, Kim Il Sung of North Korea, Imam Khomeini and Ahmadi Nejad of Iran; opposed to those who remained unharmed as compliant entities but eliminated or forgotten and ignored having outlived their utility or daring to show teeth belatedly as were Ziaulhaq, Saddam Hussain, Hosnie Mubarak, Hamid Karzai. Muammer Ghaddafi and Musharraf.
Despite names in contemporary history like America’s George Washington, Lenin and Stalin of the USSR, Mussolini and Hitler of Germany, Charles De Gaulle of France and the British Sir Winston Churchill, there are hardly any leaders among these Big Powers in recent times who are remembered for the right reasons except perhaps Ronald Reagan and Clinton. And yet there are those like Li Kuang Yu of Singapore, Mahatir Mohammed of Malaysia, Hiro Hito of Japan and Park Ching Hi of South Korea who in a world full of turmoil, succeeded in carving their names in history as great developers for their nations. The Pakistani leadership must choose where to belong.
— The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran former Director of programmes.

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