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September 13, 2018

Reversing misgovernance


September 13, 2018

Political scientist and philosopher Plato said: “The [state] is what it is because its citizens are what they are. We need not expect to have better states until we have better men”.

His observations represent an eternal truth about matters pertaining to the governance of states and how states and the societies are transformed into better entities. Plato’s view is also compatible with the divine way of changing the course of societies and reforming them. God sent 124,000 prophets to different societies at different points in human history to encourage people to adopt the ways of god. The bottom line is that societies and states tend to remain complacent and are averse to change for the better. They need leaders to engender the spirit that jolts them out of their slumber.

Leaders have the vision, drive and commitment to transform the political landscape of the country and put it on the right path to achieve national and social objectives that have been consigned to obscurity due to the detours taken along the way. Therefore, leaders perform the task of course-correction through a vision that endears them to the people.

There are two kinds of leaders: those who create history and those who are catapulted to positions of leadership by circumstances. History is replete with examples of both kinds of leaders who have changed the fate of their respective nations through their vision, unflinching resolve, and determination to rectify the problems afflicting state structures and society.

History also bears testimony to people with unenviable and slanderous pasts being transformed into great rulers and reformists through a process of metamorphosis triggered by the vision and message of their leaders. Caliph Umar is a classic example of this phenomenon.

Quaid-e-Azam was a leader whose vision and leadership turned the impossible dream of Pakistan into a reality. Unfortunately, Pakistan has failed to tread the path envisioned by its founding father. The crisis and the quagmire that it finds itself in at the moment is a consequence of the criminal indifference of successive rulers to change the archaic colonial system of governance (which encourages a culture of graft and entitlement) and replace it with a people-friendly system of governance envisioned and bequeathed by the great Quaid.

The political landscape has been marred by unrelenting efforts by the elite and the governing classes to build their own fortunes through corruption and the misuse of power, instead of delivering to the people, who are the real sovereigns of the country.

This scenario is poised to change. The people have found in Imran Khan a leader who can change all that. His success in Election 2018 can be attributed to his focus on ending the culture of corruption and ensuring the accountability of elements who have been taking this nation for a ride, and his commitment to change a corrupt and exploitative system. This has also become the inner voice of the people who were extremely wary of the system of governance that they have endured during the last 70 years.

Many intellectuals, political analysts and commentators, including myself, have been critical of the brand of politics practised by Imran Khan. But as a firm believer in democracy and proponent of the idea that the people are the final arbiters, I tend to go by the people’s verdict. Therefore, I would like Imran to succeed so that the people are vindicated for deciding to vote for him. The issues identified by him are undoubtedly the factors that have hindered progress in the country, deprived the people of their legitimate rights, and obstructed rule of law in the country.

Imran Khan has taken upon himself an onerous responsibility that will test his leadership qualities and his ability to deliver on his promises will determine his political future. Governing a country like Pakistan is an arduous and challenging task, particularly when a leader has to take on all the well-entrenched vested interests and simultaneously usher in a new system. Those forces are surely going to obstruct his path and many of Imran’s own companions share these interests.

There are other centres of power that have their own axe to grind and would like to retain their position of ascendency in determining which course the country takes. Prime Minister Imran Khan is lucky that he enjoys the support of all institutions and there is, in his own words, no issue of a civil-military imbalance. That will give him a headstart in dealing with the issues confronting the country, unruffled by threats to his position as prime minister.

There are also some tricky challenges in terms of security and foreign policy. It is, indeed, a tightrope walk for Imran. However, it is encouraging to note that things look quite satisfactory in the domain of foreign relations. The US secretary of state has just visited Pakistan and there is seemingly a commitment on both sides to reset their relations, which should be taken as a positive development. The Chinese foreign minister arrived on a three-day visit to Pakistan and reiterated the Chinese government’s resolve to take the relations between both countries to a new level, and vowed to continue assisting Pakistan in its socioeconomic development.

With regard to fixing the problems afflicting the political and economic landscape of the country, the PTI government has shown a sense of urgency tantamount to its commitments, and a number of committees and taskforces have been formed to deal with those issues. These committees and taskforces must come up with credible policies and strategies to fix these issues. Nevertheless, there is a danger that hastily-taken steps can sometimes have a boomerang effect – as evidenced by the Atif Mian issue, which resulted in other members resigning from the Economic Advisory Council to protest against the government’s move.

This has not only raised concerns among Imran’s own supporter and those who firmly believe in upholding minority rights in the country, but has also sent the wrong signals to the rest of the world. People have given Imran a mandate for five years. He must take all steps with utmost caution and after thorough deliberations. Although people expect miracles from Imran Khan’s government, they would still be willing to give him time to redeem his pledges.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: [email protected]

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