Long ago, before this nation’s present grandchildren were born, one of the few wise men this country has produced, when asked what he saw as the future of Pakistan said that it would trundle along as it was, existing but getting nowhere. And so it has been. The fault lies in the leaderships it has suffered and continues to suffer.
Those ancient enough to remember the first three decades of its existence, despite the loss of half of Jinnah’s Pakistan, should, with nostalgia, look back at the only two men who have been respected by the country’s allies, and by a goodly number of citizen, despite their faults and flaws and the damage they ultimately did. In their heydays they were classed as world statesmen — Ayub Khan, albeit an army general, and that great enigma, wit the Lucifer touch, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
What have we now? Sharifs, Zardaris, Imran Khan. That’s it. Such is the barrenness of the leadership of over 200 million people, who the world either perceives as crooks, incompetent, or of derisible insignificance. They, and so far there is no saviour on the horizon, have long had their day and for the sake of the future grandchildren of the nation we should somehow be rid of them, find a leadership that knows not only politics but how to run a country and keep its economy stable.
Of which of these could and world class journalist now write: “[Bhutto] is undoubtedly one of the most complex leader of our time and the only interesting one his country has so far produced. The only one, moreover, capable of saving it, at least for a while.”
And which of these could say to a world class journalist and be able to live up to it: “I know the fundamental rule of this profession… Well, in politics you sometimes have to pretend to be stupid and make others believe they’re the only intelligent ones. But to do this you have to light the flexible fingers, and … Have you ever seen a bird sitting on its eggs in the nest? Well, a politician must have fairly light, fairly flexible fingers, to insinuate them under the bird and take away the eggs. One by one. Without the bird realising it.” That was ZAB in 1972.
Sir Morrice James, British high commissioner, in the first half of the 1960s, wrote in his posthumously publish memoirs: “From the end of 1962 onwards, I worked closely with him and it was a pleasure to deal with someone so quick-witted and articulate … Despite his gifts, I judge that one day Bhutto would destroy himself … In 1965, I so reported in one my last dispatches from Pakistan. I wrote by way of clinching that point that Bhutto was born to be hanged.” Like the country, his stars were flawed and faulty. His skills, his wiles, could not save him from the rope. Unlike our forever dunderheads, he was not a stayer, just a sprinter. The same with Ayub.
We cannot go on with the heavy handed, stiff fingered, politically ungifted (but gifted in fooling too many and nipping not eggs but lucre). Enough is enough. 2018 is coming up and whoever the famous ‘they’ may be who deal with our ‘free and fair’ elections, it is up to ‘them’, for the sake of the grandchildren to come, to invent a new leadership, competent, morally honest, fit to rule, makers not breakers.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2016.