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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Governance in Pakistan: where have the leaders gone?

The author talks about how politicians in Pakistan have failed to emerge as leaders due to their corruption. The politicians continue to feud with each other as the country becomes a victim of bad governance.

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It is with great sadness and a measure of shame one has to say that the politicians in Pakistan are behaving like street brawlers. It appears they rarely study a book, hardly anyone in Pakistan does. It no longer appears to be a part of our culture.

Mostly, we rely on ignorant media hacks who stage shouting matches on TV between equally ignorant leaders of opposing political parties. These shows cost little, provide no information or knowledge and serve only as a source of cheap and increasingly tacky entertainment which is the lowest common denominator.

Read more: Pakistan media: is it destroying youth potential?

We don’t seem to realise the immense damage that it does to national morale and security. People lose faith and respect for the leaders and their ability to run the country. The only ones to gain from it are the enemies of Pakistan for, apart from other things, it distracts and weakens the ability of the armed forces to defend the country.

There are a total of ten generally accepted principles of war that have evolved and been codified since the days of Sun Tzu around 500 BC. Maintenance of morale is rated as the second most crucial among these. Yet, passions generated are so great that disregarding all of this, some of the most senior officers in the services have on occasion jumped headlong into the fray.

Read more: Morality doldrums: the galling truth of Pakistan

The tirade against the judiciary

This is a very unhealthy state of affairs. We need to cool it down, try to understand what is at stake and react appropriately. Running a modern state is almost entirely about management and administration that calls for specialised knowledge and experience.

There are separate institutions and services that manage each department. Generally, these run smoothly but things begin to fall apart when accountability becomes lax and there is undue external interference for whatever reasons.

For want of a better phrase, ‘street brawlers’ dressed as politicians have been interfering in the running of these institutions from time to time. It is the judiciary that is bearing the brunt of it these days.
This is alarming, to say the least, for it amounts to shaking the very foundation of the state. It has to stop and the sooner the better. Respect for the judges is fundamental to the orderly running of the state. We can criticise their judgements based upon evidence and the law but personal attacks on judges are a crime and must remain as such if there is to be a rule of law in the country.

What is the true purpose of governance?

Unfortunately, people at the very top have not always conformed to this fundamental principle, which is to be condemned in no uncertain terms. Governance is about understanding and respecting the limits of power.

It is about guiding, encouraging and taking care of those who make the state work. It is about uniting the people; not dividing them-to care for all of them and not sacrifice national interest for the sake of political expediency and personal gain.

Read more: Pakistan’s governance structure notorious for delayed decision making

It is also about service to all of the people, including those who did not vote for the party. This is the very essence of democracy, good governance and leadership.

Political rhetoric is not a substitute. True leadership calls for self-sacrifice, knowledge, personal example and above all the ability to deliver. A good leader knows how to carry the people with him.
The path of confrontation that we have taken can only lead us to disunity, despair and ultimately to disaster. For those who claim to follow in his footsteps, this is not how Jinnah had worked.

A very bitter reality

Churchill’s India is a distant memory now and the slogan “government of the people, by the people, for the people” has become a cruel joke for the ordinary citizens of Pakistan. What they have instead is a “government of the corrupt, by the corrupt, for the corrupt.”

Nothing moves unless you grease the wheels. The word corruption may not be an apt description; ‘institutionalised extortion’ probably comes closer to reality. It has become endemic in most departments that deal with the public, with only an occasional exception. There is almost no official and no place left where one can seek redress. The entire country is becoming like Karachi used to be under MQM.

Read more: Pakistan’s Governance System: Needs major repairs?

No country can survive like this. It is a pipe dream to expect any meaningful investment, foreign or local. Both valuable talent and capital are migrating. It is only natural that these conditions in a nuclear state would cause serious concern to outside powers and might tempt them to resort to unacceptable measures to ensure safety.

There is not much time left for the people to realise the gravity of the situation we are in and to organise and forestall an untoward eventuality.

Most of us have become so addicted to the hogwash dished out by the feuding politicians and mainstream media that we fail to appreciate they are jeopardising the future of the country.
Paradoxically, it would be worse if the army were to move in. They have a very important function to perform in guarding against external threats and have neither the expertise nor the wherewithal to get involved in civil administration. Exposing them to needless temptation can be highly damaging to the institution.
It has not worked in the past and there is reason to believe that it will be any different in the future. It is up to us, the people to organise and set things on the right track.
The writer is a retired naval officer and is the author of ‘Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis’ and Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective’. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.