A Case Before Pakistan
- A Case Before the Nation
By Dr. Haider Mehdi (e-mail: hl_mehdi @ hotmail.com)
January 15, 2008
People of Pakistan!
Let us, for the sake of deliberation and in good faith, give the
benefit of the doubt to Gen.(retired) Pervez Musharraf and accept all
of his claims: Yes, Benazir killed herself by hitting the car's
sunroof lever. Yes, she was warned not to hold a political rally.
Yes, no state agency was involved in her gruesome murder. Yes, the
Sharif brothers went into exile at their own request. Yes, the former
Chief Justice of Pakistan was rightfully sacked. Yes, several civil
society activists and lawyers deserve to be put in jail. Yes, Gen.
(retd.) Pervez Musharraf is the best thing that has ever happened to
Pakistan in its 60-year history. Yes, the General (retd.) has given
unprecedented economic prosperity and political stability as well as
true democracy to this country. Yes, the majority of Pakistanis are
extremists and terrorists. Yes, Pakistan's survival as a nation is
dependent on American goodwill and fighting its war on terror. Yes,
without the General (retd.), Pakistan has no future. Yes, the General
(retd.) is the promised "messiah" and so on and so on.
Having admitted all that is claimed by the incumbent leader, the
nation still needs some kind of criteria to evaluate the performance
of its political leadership. After all, that is a common process in a
democratically-run nation and the General (retd.) asserts that
present-day Pakistan is a true democracy shaped and gifted by him and
supported by American benevolence.
Leadership performance evaluations are generally conducted within
specifically defined frameworks. General characteristics attributed
to political leadership are: vision, willing followers, influence,
situational adaptability and communication excellence. These five
concepts, though not giving a complete picture, present an
underpinning of an effective political leadership. Can Musharraf's
performance be evaluated by the application of these five concepts?
Perhaps these notions are too broad and the discussion could be a
complex and lengthy process.
It would seem more appropriate to look at Musharraf's performance
within a more specific framework. One such perspective is the notion
of charismatic political leadership. Is Musharraf a charismatic
leader? Charisma, originally a Greek word, means divine gift, and
scholars have attributed such a leader with "having considerable power
over followers, especially in times of crisis." A charismatic
leadership is gifted with "(a) formulation of a strategic vision, (b)
inspiration and empowerment of followers, and (c) superior
articulation and impressive management skills." Charisma is directly
related to a leader's behavior; it is an ability to tie the
self-concepts of the followers in with the nation's vision, goals,
identity and purpose.
The questions are: Has the General (retd.) been able to invoke
followers' loyalty at a massive national level? Has he succeeded in
inspiring and empowering the masses? Has Pervez Musharraf been
successful in giving strategic goal-oriented visionary leadership to
the nation? Has he proven effective in present-day national crisis
management by acknowledging the self-concepts of the masses with their
national vision, goals, identity and purpose? Has the General (retd.)
demonstrated superior management skills at resolving the economic and
political problematics faced by the nation? Does he enjoy
considerable power over the masses by virtue of his personal behavior
and attributes? Has he been able to positively influence the masses
at large and provide the civil society in particular with a legendary
and imaginative leap in political doctrine or ideology?
Unfortunately, the answers to all of these questions are not in the
affirmative. The fact of the matter is that the nation, as a whole,
is completely alienated from Musharraf's political doctrines. Civil
society is in turmoil like never before. State violence has reached
unprecedented levels. Political chaos has reached unmanageable
scales. The nation has been going through one crisis followed by
another ever since the General (retd.) came to power some eight years
ago. The era of confusion, national disarray and multiple political
exigencies is a testament to the fact that the General (retd.) does
not possess the credentials of a charismatic leader, nor has he the
qualities that inspire people, empower followers or offer a vision,
goal, identity or purpose to the nation.
Another conceptual framework in which a leader's performance can be
evaluated is to look at his/her management style. Management is a
process of getting work done through others. It involves planning,
organizing, leading and controlling, which are critical steps in
getting the national agenda accomplished. A vital element in a
political leader's management style is that he/she uses influence
rather than relying on authority or positional power to accomplish the
desired end results. Concurrently, outstanding national leaders
focus on political variation and accommodation of diverse
points-of-view, inspire change and deal with national turbulence with
imaginative innovation rather than relying on the status quo and
constancy the art of creating national harmony comes out of the
craftsmanship to seek concord, congruity, peace and unison out of
chaotic conditions -- rather than the other way around.
Once again, unfortunately as it is, the General's (retd.) leadership
has offered none of the dynamism of a successful, innovative
management style. The national agenda remains obscure under his
leadership. The masses face unprecedented price hikes, inflation is
sky-rocketing, the poverty level is increasing and the socio-economic
gap in the society is widening. The law and order situation in the
country has never been so bad. The national consciousness has been
decimated by psychological pressures of oppressive cultural and
political trends espoused by the incumbent regime. The nation has
lost its bearings over its national identity and purpose by
overwhelming capitalistic and foreign-dominated political policies and
economic planning. The General (retd.) completely relies on his
authority and positional power to alter national institutions, the
constitution and the day-to-day running of state affairs. The common
people are suffering and in agony like never before in the chronicles
of this nation. We have come to live in most dangerous times under the
present political dispensation engineered by the General's (retd.)
leadership. It is quite evident that the General (retd.) has not
demonstrated the prowess of an outstanding leader in national
management. It is a sad and unflattering commentary on Musharraf's
The General (retd.) claims that his intentions have been thoroughly
noble and conceived in the goodness of his heart and mind "Pakistan
First" has been his symbolic patriotic slogan.
A phrase attributed to an anonymous writer warns: "Remember, people
will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a
heart of gold, but so does a hardboiled egg."
Albert Camus, the world renowned Algerian-French writer, extensively
wrote on the French oppression of the Algerian populous. "The evil
that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good
intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding."
On one hand, Vladimir Lenin combined ideological intentions with
full-scale political actions by granting independence to Finland in
appreciation of their national sentiments at the time of Bolshevik
Revolution, without a bullet fired or a Finish citizen killed.
Americans, on the other hand, nearly obliterated by force an entire
civilization and population of native American Indians in pursuit
of American national objectives. Ironically, the similar ideology of
"the clash of civilizations" is at play in the contemporary political
situation focusing on the premise: "accept Westernization or perish."
There are lessons for the General (retd.) to learn in all of these
historical events. Indeed, history is made of actions and not
intentions the General's political actions have caused permanent and
irreparable damage to the national edifice to an extent that it seems
most appropriate for him to take an exit from the politics of the
country. That would be an honorable course of action now.
I rest my case. The entire nation has to be the jury in the end, it
is the people of Pakistan who will be the judge.
Hold your breath you may be in for surprises either way !
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