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A Case Before Pakistan

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  • World View
    A Case Before the Nation By Dr. Haider Mehdi (e-mail: hl_mehdi @ hotmail.com) The Nation January 15, 2008 People of Pakistan! Let us, for the sake of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 19, 2008
      A Case Before the Nation
      By Dr. Haider Mehdi (e-mail: hl_mehdi @ hotmail.com)
      The Nation
      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
      leadership.

      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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