NS address 19th AugBy Dr Ghayur Ayub

In cyberspace a speech by a chief executive is gauged by three things; appearance; body language; and contents. Let us look at the PM speech in that context.

  • Appearance; camera plays pivotal role in appearance. It is believed that Richard Nixon lost presidential election from John F Kennedy because the way he appeared on TV. Many world leaders make sure to have them beamed properly by zooming them in the right way through correct angling and picture softening. This aspect of PM was pretty stale making his otherwise good appearance monotonous and even boring. The fault lies with the technical team who handled the camera and edited it later. After all it was not a live speech and must have been edited by the technical people.

  • Body language; I watched Mr. Nawaz Sharif very closely for over two years in Duke Street, London. Except for rare private occasions when he opened up emotionally, he would always keep his face blank, unemotional and straight. My impression was that he still believes in old-time politics when politicians talked with straight face without blinking their eyes. His brother Mr. Shahbaz Sharif is just the opposite. He coordinates his speech with body language making it attractive and interesting. ZAB was master of this art. So, during his speech I saw the PM went out of his routine a few times and used his hands and fingers to coordinate with his oration. It was on those occasions, I could see his real personality coming out in his speech. For example, when he called the public his children I saw a twinkle in his eyes and the movements of his hands coordinated with his oration giving it a personal touch. It is this type of friendliness I used to see in his private sittings at Duke Street, London. So to be fair, he did come out of his usual masked face a few times and showed emotions. Though, living in social media, those emotions were far less for some.

  • Contents; usually, the first 100 days are given to a new government to show its performance and provide direction of its future policies. Expecting fulfilment of those parameters in 75 days seems illogical and so unfair. Among vast number of problems that Pakistan faces five hit the top list; bad governance, corruption; energy crisis, law and order; and foreign policy. PM highlighted these five in his speech.

  1. Governance is judged through political decisions and bureaucratic appointments. On political decisions, he quoted recent no confidence movement brought against the PM of PPP-led government in AJK. It would have been successful had he given a nod. He didn’t. That was admirable political decision. He spoke of similar decisions in making governments in Baluchistan and KPK despite advises given to him to the contrary. On bureaucratic appointments, he spoke of discording incompetency and nepotism and choosing right people with sound professional back-ups for the right jobs even if they were not government servants. So far, with exception of rare occurrences, he is keeping to his words.

  2. On corruption, he said he heard of corrupt practices in the previous governments but was astounded by the vastness of its occurrences when he took-over the premiership. He said he gave the corruption a stop. It is a common knowledge that day-to-day corrupt practices have been curtailed. On mega projects, it is too early to say but fingers have been pointed at some his close colleagues on Nandipur and LPG projects. He spoke about Nandipur project giving some details but the logical reasons based on numerical calculations have already been provided by Ishaq Dar which are not countered effectively by the opponents.

  3. He highlighted major causes of energy problems linked to improper feasibilities prepared by previous governments and their fall outs on electricity production and so its shortages. He gave example of Neelam Jehlam Hydro Project where the essential distributing part was missing in feasibility. He quoted other projects with similar problems. Then he gave his version as to what his government would do to overcome electricity shortages on short-term and medium term basis.

  4. The major cause of law and order is terrorism. On that he gave a clear message to the terrorists to chose between negotiation and action. In case of the latter, he warned between the lines that he would deal with them with iron hand.

  5. On foreign policy he centred his arguments on China, India and Afghanistan. His friendly overture towards China was a message to America that his policy will be changing its direction from west to east. To expound on this point he went into depth on trade and economic coordination between China and Pakistan through roads and train expanding it with Central Asian States. According to him these are the main tools of financial progress for strategically placed Pakistan. There was wisdom in that part of speech on foreign policy. Having said that it would have good had he bracketed Iran in the loop as a valued neighbour.

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His speech was a little out of balance on youth. His speech writers could have done a better job and put such an important subject in right place and flow. They didn’t. So when he spoke about youth and their problems the spoken words sounded out of place with no vigour. I personally know he has good team headed by Capt Safdar on the youth program who provided promising results in a short span of time.

Looking at him speaking as the PM of Pakistan, I went back in time when I saw him speaking in the Civic Centre at Slough near London on his arrival from Saudi Arabia in 2006. I could see he was not Nawaz Sharif of 1980s or 1990s. The exile in Saudi Arabia had changed him. The avenge which braced him in nineties had been taken by endurance and he turned from a politician to a statesman. His opponents object that he weighs government in the same scale as business. So what is wrong with that? Don’t we know that the most successful governments are those which are good in trade and business? Being a successful businessman Nawaz Sharif wants to run the government on sound economic footings without using cut-throat techniques of business. We don’t want Plato to be our PM. We want a successful businessman to hold the post so he could bring out the country from financial slum. His speech primarily contained those elements.

The end