Who Betrayed Pakistan: The Leaders or the Voters?
ByMohammad Ashraf Chaudhry
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.
In a democratic system, it is the obligation of the voters to reject and replace such leadership that fails to perform by reminding them through rejection that true leadership is all about tackling the problems and removing the hardships from the lives of people.
Actions, and not entitlements provide strength to leaders. Any leadership which does not possess a grand vision of its country, which does not have the passion to grasp the helm of the ship of the State and steer it on the right course and to the right port, such a leadership will eventually sink the ship of the state. Pakistan because of the folly of its voters is where it is now. Fixing the blame on the leaders is an old cliché. Let them learn to shift the blame from the rulers to themselves.
Leaders do matter and their role cannot be minimized. Henry Adams, himself the great-grandson and grandson of presidents of America, a brilliant historian, once said, American president “resembles the commander of a ship at sea. He must have helm to grasp, a course to steer, and a port to seek.”. The men in the White House in the steering seat did shape the destiny of the people of this nation. Did such a thing ever happen in Pakistan? Were the leaders over there in their keenness to hold the helm, ever clear about the course (policies to follow) they intended to take the ship, and the port (destination) they intended to seek? Except for the blind worship of a few personalities, and by casting votes in their favor, notwithstanding their blunders and follies, the people of Pakistan never listened to their inner voices and truth, never heeding to the calls of their souls. Like robots in each election, they voted for the same brand of people whom they should have dumped long ago. To a great extent, they themselves are the engineers of their own problems.
Crisis can destroy a leadership as well. For example, the crisis of succession did not spur Buchanan or the crisis of depression spur Hoover to a creative leadership, writes Gary Wills in his biography of James Madison. “Their inadequacies in the face of crisis allowed Lincoln and the second Roosevelt to show the difference individuals make to history”. Even when there is no first-class crisis, forceful and persuasive presidents, such as, Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan, were able to impose their own priorities on the country, says Gary. Madison the great mind, may not have been able to add Canada to America, but he departed from the White House with his reputation always on the rise. Slogans apart, with the exception of the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid–i-Azam, no other leader has added even a brick to the edifice of Pakistan.
In Pakistan till today, all politicians have played the game of politics with complete disregard to the needs of the people. Crisis came one after another, none could give a vision and direction to the country. Pakistan always remained past ridden, and tangled in the web of different ideologies, in power politics, and in disputing even the cause of its creation: was it created by a secular-minded person to be a Theoretic State? Or was it meant to be a place where everybody could attend to his/her religion with complete freedom, and work with equal opportunity to become whatever one intended to. From Liaquat Ali Khan to the present incumbent, politics degenerated from bad to worse, till it became a favorite game-play for the elite to stay in power by hook or crook, and at the cost of the people and the country.
Politics became synonymous with corruption and callousness - a sure way to infinite riches. Institutions crumbled, and the craze for money and power of these politicians and others never let the country rise to its fullest potential. One of the fatal and dangerous flaws of Marie Antoinette of France was that as a young princess in Austria she got attuned to endless flattery and to cajoling. She never learned how the French people thought and behaved. Her type can be found in the form of leaders Pakistan has. They seem to feel that are born kings and queens, and that attention is owed to them. Why? Because they have money; they have land and factories, and that their elders had been titled people. They bulldozed people and their dreams with the arrogance of a Marie-Antoinette, and get guillotined.
The idea of the linkage of morality with justice is not new. In Sanskrit it is said, “When destruction comes near, understanding is turned upside down”, and in a Latin proverb, it is stated, “When God wishes to destroy, He first makes people demented.”
Moral laxity has reached such a level in Pakistan that even Manto’s “Eisher Singh” of “Thanda Ghost”, and “Khushia”, and Shakespeare’s Iago appear angelic in comparison. Prevalence of iniquity is not just a folly or aberration; it is symptomatic of a much deeper malady. It breeds narrowness of vision, and turns people blind to the finer things of life. They refuse to see goodness in others. This state of deprivation of the Grace of God has now led the people to such a decline in spiritual vitality that the victims are now able to neither progress, nor turn back. As Shakespeare puts it best in Julius Caesar, “Now let it work, mischief, though are afoot/ Take thou what course thou wilt!”. Act 3, scene 3.
Pakistan’s main leadership is not foreign qualified; it is foreign based. One actually lives there and played havoc, the other two, Mr Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif, have their second homes outside with a major chunk of their assets transferred there. Pakistan had been like a sugar mill to Zardari and like a foundry to Mian Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan had been good for them like a golf course is for any golfer. Foreign kings gift these leaders of Pakistan millions with which they proudly buy chateaus, villas and apartments in foreign lands. One general who ruled over Pakistan for about a decade, openly admits on TV to Mr Nadeem Malik. “I was given much more than one and half million dollars/pounds with which I bought an expensive apartment in London, and another in Dubai.”. To expect that they can turn Pakistan into an economic powerhouse, or can bridge the existing vast gap between the rich and the teeming poor, is like expecting the Margala hills of Islamabad turn into gold hills overnight. They can never do it because they like Lula of Brazil have never polished the shoes of people on the streets of Anarkali or Bunder Road.
Take the case of Rwanda. 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis got butchered by the Hutus in just 90 days in this small African country in 1994. After 23 years, Rwanda under the authoritarian leadership of a Tutsi, Mr Paul Kagame, has become an African Gorilla. People even get punished for littering it with plastic bags. Today, it sparkles like an emerald on a good day. Beggars get picked up, and get a treatment by hand. So people think hundred times before they choose to beg or sell their bodies. Paul Kagame through personal touch made Costco and Starbucks as the main buyers of Rwanda’s main crop coffee. He put the flood of donations for healing and for rebuilding a most divided and poor country. How did they overcome the ethnic hatred, and how are they fighting poverty is a story of success. People accepted authority over poverty and ethnic hatred. They learned that no progress can take place without healing the wounds of people first at the local level; without addressing the grievances of the aggrieved. Then they targeted poverty with a passion. Did such a thing ever happen in Pakistan?
Leaders in Pakistan want democracy, provided it is custom-made, and it fits to their whims and urges. They like it because they have money to manipulate voters; and they weaken it when it starts making demand that the Parliament and the Judiciary should be strengthened. Democracy without accountability is terribly dangerous. In Pakistan, democracy produced some of the worst dictators than the military had produced. Alex de Tocqueville, the famous French political thinker of the 19th century was so right when he warned, “If despotism were to take root in a modern democracy, it would be a much more dangerous version than the oppression under the Roman emperors or tyrants of the past who could only exert a pernicious influence on a small group of people at a time...”
We saw it happening in the case of the Bhutto dynasty and the Mian Nawaz Sharif’s three-term premiership. Instead of taking out processions in total defiance of the Supreme Court orders, and extracting shallow responses to such silly questions as, “Will you do what I say?” Mian Sahib should now try to find answers to the basic question that caused him his third fall. “Why I got fired three times on the charges of corruption? Did I or my family really indulge in corruption?’ No leader would indulge in some soul-searching. Because they are never wrong. The same applies to those who are celebrating his demise. Let the system work; let the hammer fall in an even and just manner whatever the consequences.
Half-truths are full lies; let the truth come out about these leaders. They had been like that fish that keeps on complaining that it is thirsty. Do not jail them, because jails have made them; do not leave them as half-wounded, because a wounded viper is more dangerous than a living one. The only way they can fade away is by punishing them in the purse. They should be left with what they have earned in a fair manner; the rest should be taken away. They will die, and die soon. The saying is, “Hit the shepherd, the sheep will scatter automatically. Hit the horse, the rider will fall automatically.” The best gift to Pakistan on its 70th birthday can be to make a resolve to end corruption, and to spend the money thus retrieved on the people. In modern times, morality and economic well-being are inter-related. Strengthen the Institutions, and improve the living condition of people. Morality will improve automatically. They are poor, powerless, mean and unhappy, not because of the weather, or earthquakes or floods, or being condemned to live in a bad neighborhood.
No, they are undergoing these terrible hardships by choice; they have chosen to remain will-less by imprisoning themselves in the cocoons of their ignorance. They need to learn from a butterfly that squeezes itself out of the cocoon by undergoing lots of pain, only to venture into a world that it has not known even. It even does not know how to fly because it had never done that before. A whole, beautiful and vast world then opens up before it as it flutters its wings. But look at the risk it took!
A mere insect encased in a cocoon becomes a symbol of freedom, beauty, imagination and what not. Are we worse than that insect? Wake up, and throw away the yoke of blind and senseless mode of hero-ship of these rotten eggs. You will discover how beautiful this world is and what opportunities are scattered around you in Pakistan.