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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Biden-Putin summit: Leadership lessons for Pakistan

Despite being rivals, Biden and Putin got together in the G-7 summit and strongly propagated their countries' interests and defended it. According to Rafiq Jan, such strength of character and propensity of incisive nationalist bias make countries great, something which Pakistan needs to understand.

I feel squeamish about defacing the title of my article. I love my country like any other citizen of this universe. I feel ecstatic at its glories, and I grieve when it bleeds…..

G-7 leaders’ summit has been at the very cutting edge of the world’s media in the past few days. My lifetime study and observation of leadership is not different from most of the readers out there who will endorse my perspective on eccentric leaders.

The Big-7 countries are not all ruled by authentic leaders. Nor their system of governance is an ideal democracy, except for a few. What makes them stand out in the crowd of dummies is the strength of character and propensity of their incisive nationalist bias. They love to dive into tumultuous waters and believe they will sail along and bring home the bacon for their people who chose them for the country’s highest rank.

Read more: G7 leaders at UK summit target one billion jabs and climate drive

What makes Joe Biden stand out?

“America is back”, was Joe Biden’s buzz phrase and strategy for his high-profile trip to the G-7 summit. He started it with meticulous homework which he executed well during each leg of his eight days tour and interaction with world leaders. He aptly flattered his audience for a buy-in to American strategy and the American vision of the world.

Prosperity and the possession of treasure troves are not enough to lead. President Trump took the reins of his country when the economy was booming. His contributions consist of a further strengthening of the economy, mainly due to an ambitious defense agreement worth multi-billions of dollars with Gulf Arab states. But throughout his tenure and post elections 2020 it turned out that neither the most powerful leading nations respected him, nor the United States citizens under his leadership.


Biden pitching the brand America

Before embarking upon his first European trip for the G-7 summit he ensured he had already wrapped up two significant and phenomenal achievements under his belt. First, he ramped up the vaccination campaign so fast and so far to make the United States the first major country to join the post-pandemic club. And secondly, he passed a massive relief bill worth trillions of dollars to bolster the U.S economy and put it back on the pre-pandemic recovery track.

Biden’s approach to leadership has been “inside out” first, and then “outside-in”. He took the “America is back” buzz phrase with him and pimped it during every interaction of his trip. He used his 40 years of experience in the U.S political power arena to entice his European allies into America’s buy-in. From combating climate change to strengthening ties among G-7 states, deterring Russian aggression in different forms, and most importantly stepping up efforts to pin them down to condemn a rising China.

Read more: Biden’s foreign policy agenda and the new world order

This is where he stood out as popular president of the most powerful country, contrary to his predecessor Trump who reveled in demeaning NATO and domestically every institution of the United States. He successfully managed to prompt an aggressive Putin to describe him as “a very experienced statesman” and a pragmatic person to deal with.

Biden knew that America is no longer a “shining city upon a hill”. He rather used his 40 years of hands-on in U.S power politics, holding key positions, to persuade the world leaders to take heed and look up to America as a tower of democracy and global power.

He returned as a victor of respect and dignity for his countrymen. His wisdom and political smarts have already upped the approval ratings of America from pre-visit to post-visit status. He is well poised to capitalize upon his short-lived victory abroad to build a successful platform at home. He has proved his mettle within the first half-year of his presidency that Americans can count on him as their emancipator and a north star in their darker times.

Read more: How Biden’s Trickle-down effect explanation defies economics

A feisty Putin touts the Russian pride

Vladimir Putin, a maverick statesman of this century and enjoying unparallel popularity both at home and abroad.

The Russian economy may not be as strong as that of the U.S, but the country is spanning 11 time zones, rich in uranium, oil, precious metals, the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, and the mightiest in central Europe at this time.

Putin showed yet again how easily he can deny the predictability approach of the U.S unless it meets Moscow’s terms. A media expert depicted Putin’s perspective like this, “It may be sort of the things Biden says will cost Russia prestige, Putin sees as making Moscow “relevant” and a power with which the west must reckon.”

Read more: Russians resoundingly vote Putin in till 2036

His typical confident and blasé demeanor was obvious as he confidently championed the cause of his country. his confidence was for the very reason that Moscow’s international status does not rest on One-On-One meetings with American presidents. He knew he has little to lose or gain. He knew his country’s power lies in the “ability to reliably deter U.S military power and being resilient to growing U.S political, economic and financial pressure in the form of sanctions.

Biden confidently conveyed to Putin what the U.S red lines are. In reply, Putin threw back his red lines where the U.S keeps dreaming of a trespass. So, it was “Tit for Tat” for both the leaders.

Read more: Biden to meet Putin but with no love

The superpowers’ heads of state always believe in the influence that is built on a combination of power and purpose only. And so were the optics at the summit between President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

Pakistan’s allegories: A striking contrast

It is not that I am negative, our society really is screwed.

The chaos, dysfunction, and insanity of the past several decades have taken a predictable toll. But put bluntly, Pakistan’s leadership slide is not just a domestic policy issue anymore, it is a foreign policy disaster too.

In Pakistan’s case, the billionaires are the new kings who call the shots. Those greedy rich gradually made it a poor country where too much money in too few hands has torn the very fabric of the nation apart.

Read more: Opinion: Tragedy of Pakistani State, Society & Democracy

We have become an abusive, deeply unwell society, our systems and institutions are eroding, our working class is giving up on democracy. It has finally chosen regress over progress.

We have become a society that feels enlightened at the chaos, rage, violent protests taking place in parliament house where the country’s so-called lawmakers sit every day to brainstorm about the nation’s future. We have turned ignorant of the fact that riots erupt when politics of reasoning fails. An atmosphere of gloating, sneering, bizarre speeches, and contempt created by so-called lawmakers who have been given the mandate by 220 million Pakistanis.

A society that dehumanizes itself can advocate human rights. It can only herald pervasive feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, rage, and pessimism. A society in which intellectuals fail to do their job only develops fear and despair because all those aforesaid pointers lead towards a vicious cycle of poverty and dystopia. An ultimate stage where life becomes hell, even for the chosen few.

Read more: How Pakistan’s human rights campaign is flawed beyond deceit

When we love celebrating our lunacy on the streets, it means we do not want to understand it. We love grooming the kids to take over the politics for the subjugation of the country as a family business. When a nation reaches this state of abjectness, it is just waiting for an individual to gaslight the entire nation.

The final call

We can learn in these three ways:

From our own mistakes, from the mistakes of all others who have made, and from the fortunes and misfortunes of our peers. And of those three I believe, the quickest and most effective way to learn is to simply look at what others do that works, and “copy it”.

When you do not repair your house, well in the end you have to pay a bigger bill—but chances are you may not be able to afford it by then.

Read more: Why Pakistan desperately needs strong leaders

The author is an Aeronautical Engineer and a current affairs analyst. He can be reached at: rafiqjan222@yahoo.co.uk. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.