Pakistan needs new leadership

Published: October 1, 2011
The writer served as executive director of the Pakistan American Cultural Center from 1990-2004

The writer served as executive director of the Pakistan American Cultural Center from 1990-2004

Sami Shah put it rather nicely in his recent column in this newspaper “What sovereignty are we talking about?” (September 29) when he wrote that Pakistan lost its sovereignty ages ago. ‘We traded it for short-term gain with all the foresight of a native American tribe handing over huge tracts of land for a few beads and snacks.’ Sami Shah was, in effect voicing the opinion of a large number of citizens in this blighted republic who endorse the view that in the land of the pure, the leaders from the time of Ayub Khan have been terminally hampered by the thought that the country could survive on military aid, a few hand outs and a dose of patronizing fondness, halcyon sentiment and promises to paint a picture of the country in velvet.

And so, while the leaders of the current government continue to talk — with an eye-rolling credulity and a cute innocence, occasionally sugaring the grit, and claiming that it is not really their fault if the advancement of progress has been mugged by events — the country continues to drift on an uncharted ocean. The decision whether Pakistan should once and for all cut the umbilical cord with the super power, or just make a few incisions was, of course, discussed by the troika which includes a peerlessly servile prime minister and a terse and steely army chief. The ineffably wise and deceptively simple village elders in the north who display a grudging admiration for Iran who has exhibited a fierce independence, would like the country to go it alone. The rich and influential who live an exceptionally leisurely life and stand to lose a great deal would not like to rock the boat. They don’t have to worry because the Americans are being sensible and have toned down their rhetoric. The crisis on the international front seems to have passed. But what about the crisis on the national front, where the current government has established some sort of record for deficit financing and inflation which is crushing the common man?

In the United States and the United Kingdom, voters invariably tire of the government in power and cheerfully throw in their lot with the opposition at the next election. But even in those countries where the media is relatively free, important decisions that affect the people are not taken in an open and transparent manner, with a degree of public consultation along the way. Crucial matters are decided away from the public gaze in shadowy meetings of the rich and powerful beneath a cloak of secrecy. Things are no different in Pakistan. The difference, however, lies in the fact that while the Brits under Cameron have managed to do quite nicely, thank you, in Pakistan people desperately need a change of government. The tragedy is, voters don’t really have very much to choose from.

The PPP leadership has wasted a lot of time making alliances with other parties when their supreme was not traipsing around the world on goodwill missions. He has not really been able to come up with a single positive thought or programme that could benefit the country in any way. Even his secularism and fidelity were seriously in question when he couldn’t even attend the funeral of the Punjab governor who belonged to his party. Nawaz Sharif, who did leave behind him a short trail of achievements, did precious little for the women of this country and has the reputation of leaning a little too far towards the religious right. As for the religious parties, they refute everything that the founder of the nation stood for and want to turn the country into a theocracy.

The old guard has been tried and tested and has failed. What the nation desperately needs is a new leader, somebody with an unblemished political record, somebody who cares for the country and its people, who understands the need for implementing the rule of law and can stand up to the bullies wherever they are. The next election will be crucial. One can only hope the voters make the right choice.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • khan
    Oct 1, 2011 - 10:34PM

    Mr Mooraj, yes, I quite agree with your sentiments that Pakistan needs new leadership. So when are generals Kayani and Pasha going to resign?.


  • khan jr
    Oct 1, 2011 - 11:04PM

    Mr Mooraj, yes, I quite agree with your sentiments that Pakistan needs new leadership. So when are generals Kayani and Pasha going to resign?.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 1, 2011 - 11:43PM

    In the west if things get lot worst but peoples still give time to there govt to finish there term but in pakistan no body want to wait why not this respected govt finish there term
    when we will get civilized and stop calling army army army and when they comes we start
    blaming them for that.


  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 1, 2011 - 11:44PM

    i will say good or bad democracy keep running because this is the need of time and
    worst democracy is better than good dictatorship.


  • Oct 1, 2011 - 11:48PM

    The voters make the “right” decision, and you will arbitrate on what is right?


  • TightChuddi
    Oct 2, 2011 - 12:23AM

    Yaaawn…heard that one before…
    who do you propose? IK?


  • Shireen Khan
    Oct 2, 2011 - 2:16AM

    Considering you served as executive director of the American Cultural Center, you might be able to shed light on the reason why the U.S. has been a benefactor and ally of every military dictator that ruled our country. As for saying Brits under Cameron have done quite nicely, I really think you need to live there to make such sweeping statements… the British, under Cameron’s rule have seen riots, inflation and social unrest of a kind they have not experienced in decades.
    As far as a change of government is concerned, should we not take the path of democracy and wait for the government to serve its term and let the people decide……


  • Humayun
    Oct 2, 2011 - 3:24AM

    I would say get your vote register first and then when its the election day in 2013 get out of your drawing rooms and caste your vote. then we can have this debate.


  • Bangash
    Oct 2, 2011 - 3:33AM

    Pakistan need new system.


  • Zoaib
    Oct 2, 2011 - 3:42AM

    Thank you for putting in words the feelings of majority of Pakistanis at this time. I would summarize your article and subtle references in easy words: Vote for Imran Khan!!!


  • Ali
    Oct 2, 2011 - 3:46AM

    All arrows pointing in the direction of Imran Khan and his corruption free Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf.


  • Sajida
    Oct 2, 2011 - 7:20AM

    “while the Brits under Cameron have managed to do quite nicely, thank you.”
    Mr. Mooraj, I do not know what you are talking about. Austerity begets an economic slide and that is what is happening in UK. UK’s economy is overly reliant on its banks. I would recommend you also read “Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World” and see how UK support of tax havens has contributed to the mess the West finds it self in. Of course it is also where the ill gotten gains of developing countries end up.
    See also:
    IMF: it was deregulated banking that messed up the world


  • Sajida
    Oct 2, 2011 - 8:08AM

    @ Ali Tanoli “worst democracy is better than good dictatorship”. You seem to have a faith based inclination.


  • murassa sanaullah
    Oct 2, 2011 - 8:22AM

    the leadership always emerge from the people of a nation ,i am sorry to say the character of our comman man is touching the lower level of scale, if we get a wee bit of liberty, we start taking liberty ,we as a nation think that we only have rights not duties. dishonesty, bribe, intolerance have become our charecteristics. i think the change should be with in us .


  • DQ
    Oct 2, 2011 - 8:23AM

    Mr Mooraj: Why not mention the name(s) of the leader who you think have character? The list is certainly that long! Why leave the readers hanging in the air!


  • Nasir
    Oct 2, 2011 - 10:46AM

    @Ali Tanoli

    But why Worst Democracy? Why not good?


  • sharifL
    Oct 2, 2011 - 11:23AM

    Countries and societies flourish because of ideologies and NOT good leaders charms. In democratic set up a leader has to show flexibility to the party manifesto and the wishes of coalition partners. In Germany, for example, coalitions have worked well because the greater interest of electorate and country is given more importance than following ‘great’ leaders. Hitler came to power in 20th century with great ideas of bringing Germany to top of the league and failed miserably. He in fact destroyed Germany, killed millions and had the country divided. When I hear this word ‘great’ leadership, i get the shivers.
    What Pakistan needs is democracy getting stronger and change of faces only after the electorate decide that. An edgy government, always forced to look over the shoulders to survive is not in a position to do any revolutionary. We have to scrutinize the manifestos of the parties to decide which side we are on. The problem is that there is a white elephant in the room and that is: Fundamentalists and their jihadi mindset. Pakistanis want to know if there are enough jobs in industry, education for the kids and hospitals when we get sick. How we spend our lives should be decided by us and not what the fundamentalists tell us.
    WE need great institutions, a constitution that is respected. Things will improve slowly but surely. Great leaders can wait in the shadows. Talking big is easy, delivering is more significant.


  • Parvez
    Oct 2, 2011 - 2:08PM

    When someone like Mr Mooraj writes something as banal as this, its disappointing.


  • Ishrat Salim
    Oct 2, 2011 - 2:18PM

    Good article…and new leadership will emerge if we allow screening via elections – midterm etc; but our own present political parties are allowing things to worsen becasue they do not hv enough courage to face the present mess…then ” who will clean this “…??

    And ” democracy ” in our country will never take root because of dynastic parties, religio-political parties ( they exploit poor peoples emotions by playing Islammic card ),feudalism & tribalism & lack of ” education ” for people to understand their rights & to diffrentiate between right & wrong, control of election expenses & transparent electoral list…only then we can bring in ” honest,sincere & nationalist ” leader…..except these factors everybody talks of ” democratic system ” to take root…?? follow CHINA till we are in a position to talk ” democracy “….

    Ali Tanoli Sb….is CHINA a democratic country….& yet more advanced than us…why…??

    We need good leader….Mr President had the cheek to say ” CHINA`s development is due to their leadership with a vision “…& while saying this Mr AAZ did not blink one eye…Recommend

  • meekal ahmed
    Oct 2, 2011 - 5:29PM

    Mooraj Sb.,

    You cannot take the name of Ayub Khan in the same breath as those that followed him. He was the last to BUILD infrastructure and insitutions. The rest tore it all down.

    The rich stand to lose a lot? You must be kidding! In which country can you have all your assets in foreign exchange (abroad) and your liabilities in domestic currency (at home)?!

    They are are set Sir, Emirates ticket in one pocket and a Canadian Passport in the other! They are all set to bolt having already sent their children away.


  • K B Kale
    Oct 3, 2011 - 1:21PM

    Dear Editor,
    I wish to translate this article in my mother tongue Marathi & publish it on the website of some Marathi newspaper. Whom should I write for permission?
    K B Kale, Jakarta


  • Ankur
    Oct 3, 2011 - 2:20PM

    I wonder how you can suggest that US voters change the govt. in every elections, as far as my memory goes the previous two Presidents have completed two full terms in office, and by and Large Obama may do the same, and besides your article offers little in terms of Information or solution, what is also misses is the “Imran Khan” phenomenon, that has gripped Pakistan in the meanwhile, why don’t you complete it and repost?


  • Jahanzaib Haque
    Oct 3, 2011 - 2:52PM
  • Ishrat Salim
    Oct 3, 2011 - 3:00PM

    @ Tanoli @ Ms Shiren Khan….the govt shud be allowed to complete their term….YES ! but at what cost….is calling for mid-term election undemocratic…?? the present govt has failed..that is why calling for a ” democratic change “….but unfortunately, none of the political parties are prepared & courageous enough to handle the country in its present state…?? under the circumstances…it is expected that they might complete their term….but civil unrest & passion is running high due to persistent economic hardships including electricity, rise in fuel & basic food prices etc; & this might trigger untold bloodshed…chilling but probably a real scenario based on present ground reality….may Allah swt protect our country….the system has failed to provide ” roti, kapra & makan “…pls take a round of the street in yr place of residence & ask the poor people…are they better today or 3.5 years before…?? they are least bothered – who comes & goes…

    Compare all the indicators with this period & the last govt period…?? compare apple to apple…not between a dictator & democracy….compare leader & its team to present set of leaders & its team…??Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 3, 2011 - 6:29PM

    @ Ishrat Salim Sb
    Yes we understand the importence of change but we are in mess right now.


  • Ishrat Salim
    Oct 4, 2011 - 6:51PM

    Tanoli Sb….change is expected to come out of the present rut / mess…if we cannot rise to bring in change NOW….then when…??

    Each & everyone talks of democracy…?? democracy cannot bring in change unless we change our mindset…?? we hv not served our people who elected us through a democratic system….let us not talk of ” democracy, please “…let us work on how to come out the present mess….

    Nobody has answered my question…there is no democracy in China….they got independent 62 years ago ( 2 years after us )…yet they are far, far ahead of us…which proves…it is not democracy…it is a system between ” Communism & Socialism ” , leadership & team of dedicated, honest , sincere & hard working people….overtime they changed their ” State outlook ” from security to economic….& all State policies are based on this doctrine…FREE economy helped CHINA to open their country to international investment due to cheap labor…community based industries developed in each regions – thus creating jobs & employement, thus discouraging population transfer to big cities to avoid pressure on infrastructures….to read CHINA is itself a very interesting story & wud urge my friends to read history of this beautiful country….though pre-revolution & part of post-revolution period is little disgusting & sometime very sickening…yet it proves at the end that CHINA in ordwer to survive with their billion population…this was the only road to achieve what they are today….a country which was internationally ” dubbed ” as ” opium taker ” has proved to the world, the sleeping giant has awaken….& those who called them ” names ” are today in debt of trillion of dollars….to this great nation.Recommend

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