Pakistan’s Chronic Leadership Crisis (Editorial July 2016)

JWT editorial

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since the very day of its inception Pakistan has been facing a plethora of complex challenges that have impeded country’s way to development. But, the one that overshadows all others is the crisis of leadership. And, this is the one that has kept the country backward even after nearly seven decades of independence. It was the sheerest of hard lucks that country’s founding father and perhaps the only true leader in its history, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, could not live long. His untimely demise created such a huge vacuum that no one could fill. All his successors proved only to be the managers, not leaders. Short-sightedness, imprudence and indolence were the hallmarks of our rulers, civilian and military alike. Resultantly, Pakistan stands at a point where despite having abundant natural resources worth billions of dollars, we are counted among poor and underdeveloped nations.

In the words of John C. Maxwell, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” But, that has not been true in the case of Pakistan as no such person has been seen among the rulers yet. In the early years of its life, this chronic leadership crisis was glaring in the failure of country’s subsequent legislatures in framing a constitution. Even if one was enacted after nearly 9 years of independence, it could not complete even three years of its life and was abrogated; putting the country under the claws of military rule. During this long period, no one bothered to address the issues faced by the common people nor did the ruling elite strive to mitigate the growing discord between country’s two wings. There was no such leader at the national level who could think only of Pakistan as the politicians kept on bickering over petty issues and no one was ready to ‘sacrifice’ his parochial interests over the national interest. Hence, there came the fateful day of 16 December 1971 when Quaid’s Pakistan got dismembered.

After this lamentable tragedy, when there was a dire need to pick up the pieces and create a new nation, the ruling elite — feudal lords, businessmen, and military regimes — kept on protecting its own interests instead. On the other hand, the masses kept on groping in the dark as there was no one to lead them. The 90’s witnessed political wrangling and the lust for power at its worst, and during this period, successive governments were dismissed on the charges of corruption. Every time people voted for a new government with a hope that now all their sufferings will end, and Pakistan will become a land flowing with milk and honey. But, all their hopes dashed and when the Nawaz government was ousted in a coup d’état in 1999, the country became a true epitome of what Khalil Gibran had said in a poem:

“Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,

and farewells him with hooting,

only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

At present, Pakistan is faced with mighty challenges and tackling them is, no doubt, not easy. Our foreign policy is flawed and directionless as the country is facing a growing isolation in the world. Two of our four neighbours, owing to Modi’s aggressive manoeuvring, are drifting away from us. The United States again seems in a mood of leaving Pakistan in the lurch. Its vigorous support to Indian membership of Nuclear Suppliers’ Group is an indication, if one was, at all, needed. Although China has been with us through all thick and thin, yet we should not be overly dependent on our trusted friend.

In this critical phase in our history, the most pressing need of Pakistan is a visionary leader having the best qualities of head and heart. Such a person should be endowed with a great acumen and good statesmanship. Only such a leader can steer the country out of all of its multifarious crises. But, at the same time, we must keep in mind that such a visionary, inspiring and strong leader will not descend from the skies. Such a leader is among us and we need to identify him. It is in this context that the role of our country’s energetic youth becomes significant. Educated, enthusiastic and dynamic young men and women must come forward and take this upon them. This is the only way to make Pakistan a great country.

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