Pakistan's Leadership Follies

By Farooq Sumar
The writer is a businessman and a former chairman of the National Textile Foundation

Be it political, military, socio-economic or cultural affairs Pakistan's leadership has been quite mediocre since independence. The tragedies and setbacks were many. Failure to develop a coherent set of policies to address the  nations pressing needs; to eradicate ignorance, poverty and disease at home and to maintain a dignified image abroad are the result of shortsighted leadership. After Jinnah there is just a continuous and consistent bottomless fall that has now brought the country to its knees.

Some of our decisions or lack thereof need to be revisited to comprehend our follies. The four military interventions-coup d'etats - have retarded democracy and socio-economic developments indefinitely. The military's continuous interference distorts and twists Pakistan completely out of shape, so much so that it is faceless in the comity of nations and an oppressive burden that impoverishes the people. The unacceptable truth is that the military has become the senior partner in governance at all levels, to the extent that separation of powers is totally blurred. The nation experiences medium to violent jerks often that rob it of stability, economic progress, cohesion and comprehension of its destiny.

The arrogance of the military is the basis of its justification that it has a monopoly on patriotism, wisdom, organisation and management skills to rule. This may be true in part today as all other power structures and institutions have been weakened quite deliberately by the military. While major political parties have either been created by them or compromised and corrupted to become followers who receive crumbs for their pimping services.

In the first decade after Jinnah politicians squabbled over designations for themselves rather than concentrate on the destinations of the country: a constitution, democracy and General Elections. Severe leadership vacuum stared the nation in the face, Liaquat was no substitute for Jinnah, Pakistan was at the mercy of the winds and the vultures of corruption. Perfect justification for Gen Ayub Khan's intrigues towards Martial Law.

The second round of "democrats" at the helm begins after thirteen years of military regimes and the debacle of East Pakistan. Bhutto gives us a constitution, but promptly suspends articles pertaining to fundamental rights! A civilian dictatorship and a reign of terror lasts for five and a half years, until a rigged election and Gen Zia puts all in the dustbin.  Absence of a sane system led to the flawed Bhutto and the maniac Zia

Then we see another round, from 1989, of the descendants of the feudal dictator Bhutto-Benazir and the heinous dictator Zia-Nawaz in a series of musical chairs conducted by the military. A period of heightened corruption and no democracy. The same continues today, with of course military's indirect rule in place.

The socio-political dispensations given to the people by the rulers that be have only produced power grabbers and money makers, not nation builders and servants of the people. These politicians have ruled under military patronage and are not leaders in themselves, so leadership vacuum continues today and it cannot be filled without a generation or two of struggle. Unless leadership emerges that adheres to ideas and philosophy espoused by Iqbal and the ideals of a modern democratic state desired by Jinnah, Pakistan will continue to fail and remain a non-entity.

The media, owned by barons, is a beneficiary of the largesse rather than the protector and defender of the people's rights. Many talk of a "free media" in Pakistan, this is but a mirage. We have seen how those who have transgressed are treated by the establishment's power and control over institutions.

In this situation our looters and plunderers have the temerity to call Pakistan "a democracy" with a "parliament" consisting of tax evaders, mafia, criminals, and election manipulators. With a corrupt, insensitive, bureaucratic judiciary in league with powers that be, it has failed to provide justice to the common man. Moreover a judiciary that legalised the rule of usurpers--Zia and Musharraf --can hardly hold its head high.

Bhutto's sham socialism and the ill-conceived policy of nationalisation that handed over the economy to the bureaucrats for the next twenty-five years with Czar Ghulam Ishaq at its head, led to massive corruption, inefficiency and mismanagement.  The economy bankrupted then has not recovered yet!

The incalculable damage caused by the military led and Bhutto supported break-up in 1972 took away the raison d'ĂȘtre for Pakistan. The military's rapacious role and barbaric treatment of Bengali citizens of Pakistan, also fellow Muslims, shall remain a blot on our history forever. We have been rudderless since then.
The execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto manipulated through kangaroo courts, including the Supreme Court will remain a permanent blot on Zia, the Army,  the Supreme Court, the political parties that supported the murder of a Prime Minister. Has anybody realised the damage caused and being caused by this barbarism?

The military's creation of Mujahedin at the bidding of the US to fight a US war which also helped  tighten Zia's grip on power, the madrasa scheme with Saudi Arabia for proliferation of Wahabism and perversion of the spirit of Jihad, the Taliban trip whose high the military is still on which has led to the Talibanisation of Pakistan. Their creation of the MQM mafia, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, ASWJ for various domestic and International enterprises including sectarian strife at home. It must have taken some Mr. Hyde type minds to prepare this elixir of certain doom and guaranteed destruction for Pakistan!

The mother of all failures is the complete neglect, deliberate destruction and total refusal to plan and install a internationally acceptable system of education for all in the country. Ignorance hurts in every conceivable field from home to factory to field and its continuance has done more damage than all other factors combined.

Country's Punjabization over the last six decades has cost the nation and will ultimately cost the Punjab. We have seen one break-up due to discrimination, how many more do we want? A punjabi Army and bureaucracy may spill blood but cannot stop the tsunami of hatred for punjab. Beware, we can only foster unity through equality and liberty not by embezzling and usurping rights of others.

It seems, like all else, we pursue a directionless, without values khaki foreign policy, sans principles that often works against our own long-term interests. It also negates Islamic principles. Diplomacy has been thrown to the winds for the unattainable pursuit of depth and a desire for damnation. There is not a single immediate neighbour that Pakistan has good or even tolerable relations with. India today probably has more friends in the Muslim world than Pakistan with greater trade.

These and numerous other follies have caused incalculable damage to the nation. A near bankrupt economy, political instability, social chaos, massive insecurity, impoverished masses, and the injection of un-Islamic trends into Islam have serious consequences. What more could we have done to destroy Pakistan and shatter the dreams of Pakistanis? Even our worst enemies could not do to us what we have managed to do to ourselves. Do we care?