Looking for the Messiah; nowhere to be seen
By Saeed Qureshi
Two indispensible features have all along been lacking in the political landscape of Pakistan. One is selfless, motivated and patriotic leadership. The other is the institution building. The newly born country had fallen prey to the vandals of worst pedigree. It has been wantonly and relentlessly pillaged financially and crippled institutionally, by self-perpetuating people and groups who had scant concern or interest in its welfare, stability and its evolution as a modern nation state.
From the dawn of independence, it remained lorded-over by creepy bureaucrats, rapacious feudal, insidious dwarf politicians, hypocritical religionists and ravenous mafias that kept exacting their pound of flesh throughout. There has been severe and acute famine of leaders with nobility of character and sublimity of spirit to serve this county for its greatness and glory.
The foundational and structural flaw was its two wings that were poles apart in every manner except the religion. Religion failed as a cohesive and uniting force between Former East Pakistan and the present West Pakistan. The dismemberment of Pakistan was destined to happen sooner or later.
The egalitarian and democratic spirit of the Bengali nation was a check on the parasitic and fiefdom mentalities of West Pakistan. However, after 1971, when East Pakistan seceded, the left over western part had become an exclusive grazing ground for all exploitative classes and greedy ruffians to turn into a barren land politically, socially and economically.
The search for a great leader has been elusive so far. It is a dismaying coincidence that the perpetual crises in Pakistan have not produced a leader of sterling integrity and high caliber with powerful intellect, iron will and lofty ideals to lead Pakistan towards a splendid destiny. There have been mediocre, mean-spirited, self-centered, exploitative, oppressive individuals grabbing power by trickery, deceit and ignoble machinations.
The leaders on the whole, were infected with the undying desire of self fortification in the power citadel, loot of national wealth by every conceivable devious means, destroy or dibilatate democratic traditions and nation building institutions.
The political parties and their stalwarts depend more on intrigues and back door maneuvers to dislodge and depose the sitting governments and not by established democratic traditions of fair and free elections. The political anarchy that interminably hovers over Pakistan has been the dirty and loathsome work of the politicians than the army.
The generals always stepped in at the behest of the selfish political cronies or as a result of a totally collapsed system of governance. If politicians would have behaved and adhere to and promoted democracy culture, the army could have never ruled Pakistan for half of its post independence period.
The accumulated mess of six decades has to be cleared by someone or else Pakistan’s survival as a viable state is at stake. You name one institution and you would lament that it is dysfunctional due to incompetency, kickbacks, bribery, and lack of funds or malafide intentions not to make it efficient. The Parliament, Senate, ministries, police, airlines, railways, courts, municipal administrations, industries, presidency, Prime Minister House, education, health, social services, law and order are being run on borrowed time.
The state or national institutions are in a state of complete or near wreck. The worst sufferers are the majority of the people of Pakistan. The elite classes, the aristocracy, the ruling cliques, the big businessmen, and snobbish bureaucarts are immune from the myriad predicaments and day to day tragedies and hardships that a common man encounters.
So let us talk about a unique leader who can address this morbid situation and redeem Pakistan from a colossal drift and national calamity that if remained unchecked could push it towards an irredeemable decay and terminal disintegration.
Such divinely gifted leaders have appeared in history who changed the destiny of their nations from total collapse to resplendent redemption. Let us indulge in a fanciful utopia, and subjective reckoning and wishful reflection. Let us ponder that if we have one like Hazrat Omar, Mamun-ur-Rshid of Abbasid dynasty, Salahuddin Ayub of medieval Iraq, Kamal Ataturk of 20th century, Imam Khomeini of Iran, Li Kuan of Singapore, Fidel Castro of Cuba, founding fathers of the United States, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, De-Gaulle of France, Mau Zedong or Ding Xiaoping of China, Hochi Minh of Vietnam and so on.
Bhutto was a dazzling flash in the chequered and tumultuous history of Pakistan but it extinguished for his own temperamental flaws and by the external forces in league with the local quislings. His achievements are distinctive and excel his failings. He was a trendsetter but fell victim to local intriguers and the foreign string pullers. On the political horizon of Pakistan there is no other lofty figure (leave the founder of Pakistan) who could be portrayed as a leader of true national stature.
Pakistan needs a radical progressive, reformist, a firebrand, iron willed revolutionary, chivalrous and visionary leader. He should be a leader who is incorruptible, astute and farsighted. He should be the one who can keep his nose to the grindstone and never budge or bend on matters pertaining to national honor, mission for change and reconstruction of Pakistan as a modern, developed state.
He should be the enemy of status quo, of sectarianism, of vested interests, of selfish pressure groups and cartel, corruption, nepotism, feudalism, comprador classes, and the false and exploitative sainthood. He could lay down his life but would not dither nor compromise on his lofty ideals of nation building. He should be a person hating self aggrandizement, wealth, personal galore and glorification, live a simple life and shun ostentation.
He should speak and plead for the masses He should mobilize the downtrodden and intellectuals and intelligentsia for a gubernatorial change. He should stand for consolidation of healthy and efficient institutions, for equality, unalloyed justice and social services for all on equal basis.
Am I asking too much for a leader to rescue this harassed nation form a catastrophic abyss of sufferings? Well if it is a wishful thinking then let it be so. There have been such matchless and legendry leaders who led their nations in the most critical periods and drove them out of the dire straits of untold afflictions and rejuvenated them from the ashes of annihilation. Can this miracle happen in Pakistan too?
The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United State. In Pakistan, he had worked for several years as a senior correspondent for daily “The Muslim” and “Pakistan Observer.” In 1992 he founded his own English opinion weekly Diplomatic Times and was its Editor and Publisher until 2001 when he moved to the United States.