Pakistan’s Leadership Crisis

Metaphors are central in the forming of perceptions. These have greater impact on recipients. The closest in metaphor resembling Pakistan’s crisis is Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is a problem play. When folly reaches a point, the wrongdoers eliminate each other. What in fact happens is that everyone distorts the reality to fit the circumstances. What happens to executives is that the unfolding rationalization and logic tackles despair and nothing else. In the process they become part of it and common sense stands defied. How lonely one becomes is the ultimate truth in statecraft. Does a cursory look at the recent developments not prove that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is being played again?

Leadership is about doing right things at the right time. But, in the context of Pakistani leadership, almost all our ‘leaders’ have failed to command the scheme of things. Our leadership is battered both ethically and in morale. The nation had paid and is still paying a high price for the crisis of leadership. Given the changing global patterns, we are in the midst of so many harassing problems and the fronts are too many but our political leadership is neither aware nor conscious of it. The governance is in a deadly slide but the leaders are not content with what they have both in symbolism and in substance. The present system is based on manipulation and it is anything but clean and efficient.

The deep sense of insecurity drives our leaders to make a grab for power. It is also about easy money. There are no excessive anxieties for the sake of nation and country. The bad influences have become endemic in our case. There are no distinguished performances whereas the misperception is that the crown grows out of their heads. If one sits down in a quiet moment of reflection and attempts to hark back, then what one finds is that Pakistan went through the worst handling that one can imagine. And the idea of graceful entry or exit is not for Pakistani leaders, but for the Uncle Sam.

Of all the traits of character and influence, integrity is the most virtuous. It is the key element and the centre of gravity connecting everything. It is a scarlet thread integrating the entire being. The balance in the being leads to justice. The connection between proportionality and justice is as old as mankind. And the constellation of virtues is not liable to the ravages of time and decay and is held together by integration as opposed to disintegration. Moreover, whenever big crisis occurs, or is in the air, the passage of time demands sacrifice.

Nevertheless, the self-deception continues. The psychological repression that nothing has happened goes on, whereas, everything has happened. The repression is gigantic, disguised and drives people mad, yet it continues to be part of the collective psyche. Pakistan is impregnated with it. The neurosis is now in the advance stage of collective psychosis and the loss of control manifests it. How long will we continue to play the tricks? The issue behind the continuing crises is as to what kind of a nation and country we want to be?

The crisis today is the most serious since 1971 whereas Pakistanis suffer from an inadequacy to state their wisdom. It is time for a branch and root examination. Pakistan has too many moving parts, and hardly any stable ones. The system is breaking down for all its intents and purposes. The passage of time has become decisive, yet to factor it out is a problem. There is not much thought as to how to proceed. The problems are complicated and the scenario is changing with every passing moment.

Everything that matters is against the State. All the daggers are in it. The dissatisfaction is on a large scale. There is a generalized lawlessness in all spheres.  The cynicism all around reflects despair. It is a full blown, continuing and multiplying crisis. The unpredictable will emerge out of chaos because the human element of leadership is missing.

The great escape made by the West was from deductive to inductive process of reasoning whereas the failure of Muslims is to systematically apply the scientific knowledge. Compared with consonance, the Muslim mind in general suffers from a psycho-social dissonance. The people of Pakistan have been mired in a number of crises. Yet, the facts are not understood whereas one deals with a problem on the basis of facts surrounding that problem.

We need to stop lying and accept that this country’s real troubles lie elsewhere – gross economic disparity, victimization of women and children, the failure to institute land reform and abolish feudalism, failure to provide quality healthcare and education to all and not only to the privileged, and a high incidence of violence. One cannot build a modern society on a feudal foundation.

To know one’s shortcomings is the prerequisite of the solution.

In Pakistan, we must blame all categories of ‘leaders’ – the generals, retired generals, politicians, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, ulema, academia, intellectuals, feudals, industrial tycoons and the media — for the tragedy.

Today when our leaders proudly speak of Pakistan having survived for sixty-seven years, they fail to mention that the Pakistan we have today is not the country that was born in 1947. It is time for the political leadership to be humble and repair the decline of competence that has condemned the majority of Pakistanis to a life of unspeakable misery and degradation. We Pakistanis know what havoc the elite at the top have played with democracy and democratic institutions. As a class it is “essentially bogus”. The slide is much more than this or that. It is simply socio-economic and political chaos, let alone the law and order and lack of capacity and competence. And nothing will be settled until everything is settled including the shift of focus.

The rise and decline of states has a great deal to do with demographics, culture, natural resources, educational systems, economic policy, political stability, individual opportunity and legal frameworks – all matters largely beyond the control of outsiders.

The idea that Jinnah started with could not take root. The legal, and not political mind, was at ease with the settlement. Being a lawyer, he thought that the case has been won, but the story did not end. Take for example 1971 – here was a failure that severed the nation into two. The philosophic bases of Pakistan were put to the test. The word Pakistan did not change, everything else changed. And today it is a meltdown. The idea on which Pakistan was built is bruised. Citizen is an irrelevant stranger. Assuming anything else is begging the question.

The despondency leads to a neutral gear. It smells of weakness. Everything in the garden is not green. The equilibrium has limits. The climax is in the realm of law and constitution. The importance of things is in relation to the impact on policy. Criterion has the most telling impact on the net of conceptual understanding. It guides one from known to unknown.

In case of Pakistan, our leadership invoked Islam to cement and galvanize the masses for the realization of a separate homeland. But the moment Pakistan was born, Islam was set aside as a source of unity and identity. And unfortunately justice was never allowed to be born in the first instance. Obscurantists, anti-state and anti-Islam elements were allowed to defeat the very purpose of Pakistan’s creation. Today, the whole fabric of our society stands tottering to the core and we are suffering from a national psychosis.

Pakistan must back its policies and reforms with political participation, science, ethics and pluralism. The 21st century dictates as such. Lack of it is domestic instability including economic, political and geo-political subservience. Besides, a culture of violence is badly affecting the daily life. If political instability and violence is controlled, Pakistan has the potential to rise again as a glorious country. And for this, the ordinary people of Pakistan will have to do extraordinary things.

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