Dr. Farid A. Malik |
Perhaps Kaptaan has now become a brand name for PTI Incorporated (PTI Inc). Corporate resources like jets and helicopters are now at the disposal of party leadership. Gone are the days of sweat and struggle. Instead of an “Aam Admi Party”, the Tehrik is in the control of the ‘Khas’. Corporatisation has taken place.
A corporate leader running the government, like Shaukat Aziz, will be remembered as the worst PM ever. That is why he dare not visit his home country. Legacy is created by what you leave not take.
It was the dream of Shaukat Aziz to convert the country into Pakistan Inc. He often talked about corporatisation, deregulation, and privatization. Photo sessions were well orchestrated. He dressed and talked well, keeping the boss happy. It seems his cabinet members were deeply influenced by his approach. Shortcut Aziz was not a politician; corporate wheeling and dealing were his forte; for him, running a country of the size of Pakistan was a dream come true. In his last cabinet meeting, after the photo session, he shook hands with his team saying ’till we meet here again’. I think his parting words keep ringing in the ears of his buddies as they are now spread in all directions seeking access to the PM’s Secretariat.
There is a world of difference between corporate and political strategy. In business, the bottom line is important while in politics, the human line has to be watched. A corporate leader running the government, like Shaukat Aziz, will be remembered as the worst PM ever. That is why he dare not visit his home country. Legacy is created by what you leave not take. No one wants to talk about him or his innings, not even his cabinet colleagues or his boss.
To avoid conflict of interest (COI), ethical corporate leaders keep away from politics. It was during the regime of Zia-ul-Haq that businessmen were inducted into the political arena. Till then Pakistan was a normal country with corruption under control. It was a two-pronged attack. While he sold national interests to the Western powers, he allowed the domestic loot and plunder by his handpicked political rogues. The people of Pakistan were made to suffer. Ayesha Siddiqua has written a book titled ‘Military Inc’. A similar project could be launched called ‘Siasi Inc’, in which past and post assets of the political players should be published. Between the two corporate entities resides the wealth of the nation.
No one could have imagined that the movement Kaptaan launched in April 1996 would end up as a corporate entity.
In Pakistan, PML-N Incorporated was the first politico-business entity. Everyone in the party is encouraged to leverage his political authority to accumulate wealth. While the big money is on the upper deck of the leadership, the crumbs are for the lower rung. COI does not matter or count. There is hardly anyone in the party whose assets have not increased manifold after entering politics.
Service to the people is paramount in politics. Leaders who serve and sacrifice are revered and their legacy is everlasting. The 20th century was dominated by personalities like Mao Tse Tung, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mohandas Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Indira Gandhi, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), Imam Khomeini… the list goes on. None of them had a corporate approach to politics. They entered the arena not to accumulate wealth but to help and serve mankind. For them, people came before profit which is why their memory lives on even after they are gone.
How to bring ‘real’ change
PTI Incorporated now faces its similar opponent: PML-N Incorporated. While Kaptaan is the brand for PTI, PML-N depends on Nawaz Sharif. Party ideologies and manifestos are subservient to these individuals. PML-N was designed as a politico-business outfit to take on ZAB’s people’s approach. Corporatisation of PTI is indeed a great disservice to the country and the party rank and file.
No one could have imagined that the movement Kaptaan launched in April 1996 would end up as a corporate entity. Due to the untiring efforts of Comrades like late Ahsan Rashid, who was President of Punjab PTI, the party blossomed as a genuine movement for change. The Jalsa at Minar-e-Pakistan in October 2011 was historic. A wide cross-section of people was there. In December 2011, the ‘Andhi’ reached Karachi but by that time PML-Q rescue squad had arrived to neutralize the storm.
As a genuine movement for change, PTI has to revert back to its original design shunning its approach of corporatisation.
Since then it has been going downhill. Starting from the award of party tickets all the way down to ballot box management, there were serious gaps. Corporate heavyweights were running the show and they failed miserably. PML-N was able to steal the election. In the words of Kaptaan, it was stealing victory from the jaws of defeat and there was no counter strategy.
In politics, the battlegrounds are spontaneous and unpredictable. In corporations, street resistance is neither taught nor practiced. Payroll individuals lack political passion for resistance. Corporate entities do well in areas for which they are trained and recruited- that is, to make money. Fighting for change has never been their forte nor will it ever be. As a genuine movement for change, PTI has to revert back to its original design shunning its approach of corporatisation. As a politico-business entity, PML-N has done enough damage already another such outfit is in no one’s interest down with the corporatisation of politics. People have to come before profit. Politics and business cannot co-exist.
Dr. Farid Malik is a prominent technical and management expert in mining, materials, engineering and high-tech industry; he is a regular columnist for The Nation and Pakistan Today. He is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. This article was first published in The Nation and is republished with the permission of the author. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.