The ability of Pakistani politicians to convert their personal motives into national agendas is amazing.
By Yasmeen Ali
In the situation we, as a nation, find ourselves in, caused by multidimensional issues, from spiking inflation, to corruption at every level, from leadership bankruptcy to natural disasters and the destruction it has brought in it’s wake, we need a time of quiet reflection.
We need to reflect, what have we done, or, what have we not done, to produce and groom a crop of leaders that can lead the nation out of it’s many challenges, heads up, colors flying!
The national parties have, over time, mobilized people over slogans of all kind of promises. However, once in power, they failed the nation at every level. One reason is genuine ignorance of the economy and searching for answers that need to be answered. The other reason is, awarding ministries, not on grounds of competence of an individual to run a ministry, nor his knowledge and acumen in the field, but purely party loyalty. This in turn leads to wrong decisions, waste of resources, misdirected human effort and more incompetencies. The third reason is, a genuine lack of will to do good for the country as compared to do good personally.
This conflict between personal gain with national gain brings us to two crucial questions that we, as a nation, must address. High time too.
The first conflict, is the right exercised by a large percentage of leaders, including Members of Parliament, to maintain dual citizenship. Although many countries in the world do recognize dual citizenship, including USA, based on the U.S. Department of State regulation on dual citizenship (7 FAM 1162), the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that dual citizenship is a “status long recognized in the law” and that “a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not without more mean that he renounces the other,” (Kawakita v. U.S., 343 U.S. 717) . However, I have strong reservations about a citizen having loyalty to two countries.
The word “allegiance” means that we promise loyalty. It also carries with it the expectation that this loyalty will be exclusive and unrestrained. In the case of a declared war or real threat or conflict, for example, our allegiance to Pakistan should preclude any other interest, be it another country or political ideology. Since citizenship carries with it a responsibility to be exclusively loyal to one country, the whole concept of dual citizenship and nationality raises questions about which of the dual citizenships have priority. This is extremely important when the two countries have opposing interests. It can be a deadly problem when a dual citizen is in a high position within our government. Can one imagine a Japanese citizen serving in the Pentagon during WWII? Or how about a citizen of the Soviet Union holding a cabinet position in the White House during the Cold War?
This conflict is intertwined, though not necessarily, with the second conflict. That of the leaders in a country, investing their personal funds, heavily abroad and not in the country they purport to lead.
Like unconditional support to one flag, should not they be the first to affirm confidence in the country they lead by investing with it’s people and economy? Should not their stakes be high IN the country and not invested abroad? Does not, investing in foreign countries, give out a signal of distrust to the people and world at large? Cannot this policy lead to a conflict of interest? Should not the leaders lead by example and reaffirm confidence in their own country by investing in sectors that need a boost by leading by example? How can they seek foreign investment by not investing first themselves?
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, we see a reverse of the situation needed. Our leaders invest heavily abroad, thereby, in times of distress, jump boat to live in foreign shores, leading a more comfortable and plentiful life than the ones they lived while in Pakistan, to be back to resume the mantle when the time is ripe for their return.
The national government, if it wants to be national, ought to govern by the people and for the people, for the outcasts and by the outcasts. No leader, however valuable he may be, can substitute himself for the popular will; and the national government, before concerning itself about international prestige, ought first to give back their dignity to all citizens, fill their minds and feast their eyes with human things, and create a prospect that is human because conscious and sovereign men dwell therein.
“Experto Credite.” (“Trust one who has proved it.” Virgil, 2,000 years ago.)
Yasmeen Ali, a lawyer has had considerable corporate experience working in the Public Relationing of MultiNationals. She is presently teaching in an University based at Lahore, Pakistan. She has been contributing to Opinion Maker almost since its inception.