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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Why Pakistan desperately needs strong leaders

Pakistan has tried all forms of administrations, including the Army, yet there are many problems facing the country. According to K Hussan Zia, Pakistan needs strong leaders, otherwise, the consequences will be severe.

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If Pakistan’s future looks as dark and foreboding as painted here, it does not mean that the concept of Pakistan was ill-conceived or that the writer is intent on spreading needless alarm and despondency. Far from it. The basis of the demand for separation from Hindu-dominated India was both sound and unquestionably justified and legitimate.

The object was to save the Muslims of India, or at least the majority of them, from the ‘tyranny of the Hindu majority,’ in Jinnah’s words. The resolution passed by the Muslim League in 1940 called for the Muslims to have a state where they could decide and manage their own affairs and not a country for Islam.

Read more: Modern-day India reaffirms Quaid-e-Azam’s Two-Nation theory

As a religion, Islam lives in the hearts and minds of Muslims. It does not need a piece of land to survive. Jinnah made it abundantly clear at the Muslim Legislators Conference in Delhi in April 1946, ‘What are we aiming at? It is not for theocracy, not for a theocratic state.’ At the time, every Islamic religious party had viciously denounced Jinnah and the idea of Pakistan. That didn’t matter because the people trusted Jinnah.

Great problems in Pakistan

After independence, the religious parties changed their tune and claimed that Pakistan had been created for Islam. It is a measure of the pitiful state of education that even though Pakistan Studies is a subject at every level, many of the students have been led to believe that the country was actually created for Islam. Without going into details, there can be no redemption if we continue to neglect education in our institutions to this extent.

The second even more pressing issue is one of population explosion and food security. There were 35 million people in present-day Pakistan at the time of independence. Since then the number has climbed to about 230 million and will grow to 350 million by 2150 — ten times more than what we started with and nearly equal to the total population of pre-Partition united India while available land and resources remain unchanged. It can’t be allowed to go on because there are very serious consequences involved.

Read more: The implications of Pakistan’s unbridled population growth

Each year we add seven million more mouths to feed, house, clothe and provide education, jobs, healthcare, transportation, etc. for them. In most countries, people responsible for these would be having nightmares and screaming from rooftops. In Pakistan, their only concerns appear to be the opposition leaders, judges, keeping religious zealots happy, and powers that be pleased.

This brings up the other vital issue —- administration. We had inherited what was undoubtedly one of the finest systems in the world as those of us who have seen and experienced it know. It has been chopped and changed periodically not for the good of the system or the people but for those who had control of the country. Whatever is left of the system is now being run by a bunch of ignoramuses and layabouts.

Read more: Governance in Pakistan: where have the leaders gone?

The country needs strong leadership

People are at their wits end with food prices going through the roof, corruption not simply becoming endemic but synonymous with extortion, no relief in sight, and leaders in every field and level care only for themselves. They have tried all the political parties, including the army, and know it is only more of the same. It can’t go on. Time moves on regardless. It won’t be long before people will take to the streets. God only knows what will happen after that.

Leadership is about knowledge and understanding the people, being empathetic, giving them hope and confidence in the future. It is not about talking down to them but being with them, feeling and sharing their trials and tribulations, and being seen to be doing something about it.

Read more: Pakistan needs leaders, not social movements

It is not about hiding from difficulties and denial but knowing one’s limitations and selecting a winning team that is experienced, committed and competent to which one can delegate authority knowing that it will deliver.

There is not much time left to save the situation. Ad hoc solutions by crass amateurs, no matter how well-meaning, will not do. What is needed are teams of experienced professionals in each discipline to prepare relevant plans in weeks, not months, and oversee their implementation by relevant departments without interference by any politician or other outsider.

Read more: Op-ed: Pakistan’s politicians are just ‘sand-dune’ leaders without a view of life

The key lies in picking experienced professional operators and letting them get on with the job in earnest without any undue interference. The issue touches all of us, let it not be water off the ducks back because the consequences will be horrendous.

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.