Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has the knack of doing extraordinary things. Be it acquiring the top job in the country by emerging almost out of nowhere or daring to question the seemingly invincible forces in the country by asking: “Who gave a visa to Osama Bin Laden?”, it really does seem that Mr Gilani is an extraordinary person.
But what is the prime minister (PM) thinking right now? He is harping on about a biased judiciary and displaying his selective amnesia by lamenting that there are forces out to get the PPP government. “I am not corrupt,” argues Mr Gilani. “I’m just protecting the Constitution.”
But may one dare ask how is he safeguarding the Constitution and from whom? Is he implying that the judges who summoned, and later convicted him, are trying to sabotage the Constitution? If yes, that is not just an extraordinary thought but a scary one.
“Tell me how many decisions I have taken as the PM of Pakistan?” he asked me during a recent media briefing at the Prime Minister House and then hastened to answer the question himself. “At least two million decisions, out of which only four or five have been frowned upon. I am human, I can err, so please give me the benefit of the doubt,” he pleaded.
There is substance in this argument but is this really the best excuse that the chief executive of Pakistan can give? I wonder if I could give the same excuse to my boss. Oh I have hosted hundreds of programmes on live TV, so if I invited an incoherent guest for once, gave promotion to my team members without following due procedure or could not see through the corruption of a team member until he ended up in jail, please give me the benefit of the doubt. If I come up with such arguments, I will be looking for a new job very soon. But maybe that is the difference between working for a private organisation and a country called Pakistan.
The PM, when talking about Adnan Khawaja’s appointment as chairman of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), argued: “I was wrongly advised in his case”. Now, this is a line that he takes quite regularly. He is candid about the mistakes he has made because of the guidelines provided by ‘others’. In his book, Gilani has related an incident where, as the Speaker of the National Assembly, after being misled by his adviser, he allowed Akbar Bugti to give a speech in Balochi, which was against the assembly regulations. Similarly, what could he do if the letter that appointed Khawaja as chairman of the OGDCL was signed by his principal secretary? After all, it was her job to properly investigate Khawaja. Mr Gilani presents this argument with a smile.
It is always good to listen to the prime minister. He is a good orator. The twitch in his eyes and the nod of his head and the movement of his hands makes us believe that he really is a nice guy. But the question remains, do we need nice guys as our leaders? Do we need people who take decisions at someone else’s behest and once they commit a mistake, still ask to be forgiven? I think not. When you have the future of 180 million people at stake, it requires someone tougher to do the job.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.