Pakistan at 70: Whither Good Leadership?

There is no gainsaying the fact that without the visionary and charismatic leadership of the founder of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah the dream of an independent country would have been impossible. It is difficult to imagine that a person so frail of physique could have singlehandedly achieved a separate homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent. One can gauge his vision from the fact that having pleaded his case on the basis of two separate nations, he was quick to add at the eve of independence that he wanted an inclusive homeland, where everyone was free to practice his or her faith. He had reassured everyone: “You’re free to go your mosques, you are free to go to your temples or any other place of worship that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

Today is Pakistan’s 70th birthday. Its detractors weren’t giving it 10 days let alone 70 years to survive. The country has come a long way from its early days. To begin with the challenges were grave. At the time of its birth its share of the army was spread all over the world and there was no single Muslim unit for the defence of the country. There was no industry, no trade and no trained manpower. Its share of money and weapons had been stopped. It was inundated by an unending stream of refugees. War had broken out in Kashmir and the British commander in chief of an independent Pakistan wasn’t willing to take the orders of the Quaid to support Pakistan defend its legitimate rights.

Looking back at these 70 years Pakistan’s has had its share of successes and failures. It lost half of its territory in just 25 years. It has been through wars, natural disasters and multiple political crises. The common thread visible throughout these upheavals has been a leadership that did not measure up upto the myriad challenges faced by the nation. Unfortunately after the Quaid’s death just one year after the birth of the nation, no one could replicate his standards of good leadership. The ship of state was allowed to flounder against the rocks that it encountered in its progress as an independent state.

Often but not always good leaders are an accident of history. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was one such leader. He was a messiah, truly a gift of God, who did what he was ordained for. This, however, begs the question whether it is the end for us? Are we such an unfortunate nation that we will remain bereft of good leadership even after 70 years? Such thoughts can lead to despondency? I don’t believe that we are fated to be ruled by third rate leaders. We can have our share of good leaders provide we have a long term plan for it. First and foremost we need to allow to the agreed system of governance to take root. Whatever, democratic norms that we have adopted for our country must be allowed to blossom and bear fruit. The early fruits may be bitter at first but eventually there would be sweeter crop that comes out if the system is allowed to filter out those not fit for leadership roles. The important thing is that the system of filtration should not be extra-constitutional. The Quaid was a constitutional lawyer per excellence. During his visit to the Staff College in Quetta he had reminded the military leadership of the oath that they had taken to protect the constitution. He was absolutely clear that if the country had to flourish there ought be no coups either military or judicial. Leadership like wine takes time to mature. So lets be patient and give time for a merit based leadership to emerge from an archaic and decadent system based on feudalism and dynastic rule.  Time is not far, when we will have our own Thomas Jeffersons and Abraham Lincolns.



4 Comments on “Pakistan at 70: Whither Good Leadership?”

  1. Sufyan says:

    Digressing a bit ………

    Pakistan is a Civilisational State. We started building our villages, towns and cities over 9000 years ago. 70 years ago, it was a Rebirth of the Nation.

    The land and people of Pakistan were here much before Rig Veda, the earliest Vedic scripture written between 1500-1000 BC. We were here much before Adishankara Acharya classified the different pagan schools of thought or pagan cults around 8th century AD and Hinduism was categorised as a separate religious entity by the British in 1800s. 

    We were here before the emanation of Vedic and Hindu cultures, before Judaism, before Christianity and before the dawn of Islam.

    We have a history of over 9000 years from Mehrgarh (7000 BC), located between Quetta and Sibi in Balochistan; Rehman Dheri (4000 BC) in Khayber Pukhtunkhwa; Harappa (over 3000 BC) in Punjab; Mohenjo Daro (2500 BC) in Sindh; having more than 50,000 rock carvings, 5000 inscriptions and many other heritage resources ranging from the Neolithic period in Gilgit Baltistan.

    The people of Pakistan were politically united with Republic of India only for about 200 years of forced political unification during the Mauriyan Empire (100 years) and British colonial rule (100 years) out of a total settled history of over 9000 years. For over 500 years it were the Pakistanis who ruled India. For the remaining over 8000 years we remained a separate entity. 

    We don’t know what religion that we followed during the pre-Harappan and Harappan periods. Later though, some of us were Zoroastrians, some followed Vedic and Hindu culture, some were Jains and later majority accepted Buddhism. With the advent of Islam gradually majority of us accepted Islam and are now Muslims. However one thing has been historically proven that, Hinduism was never a majority religion followed by the people of ancient Pakistan. We were majority Buddhists and later became majority Muslims.

    The Mesopotamians (ancient Iraqis) identified ancient Pakistan as Meluhha, the ancient Persians called it Hind, Arabs named it as Al-Hind, the Greeks would call it indoi/Indos (people of Indus) and in 1947, the same people of Indus named it as Pakistan.

    We Pakistanis have a national identity since over 9000 years and it remains embedded in the land that we live in and the people who live on this beautiful land.


  2. Safeer Khan says:

    Unfortunately, extremely low literacy rate, unchecked corruption by the leaders and the absence of limits of financial powers of the rulers have established a culture of wholesale corruotion by people in power. This must change by limiting the financial powers of the rulers and ruthless system of accountability at the end of a ruler’s tenure.

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