Pakistan a Case of Failed Leadership
[By Roedad Khan; Courtesy; The News, Saturday, May 02, 2009]
Today there is no such thing as law and order anywhere in Pakistan. When the administrative machinery breaks down (as it has in Pakistan), law and order is the first casualty. “And when respect for law and authority declines, the devil of force leaps into its place as the only possible substitute and in the struggle that ensues, every standard of conduct and decency is progressively discarded. Men begin by being realists and end by being Satanists. Sometimes synthesis takes place from within; sometimes it is imposed from without. If the original breakdown of authority is caused by a ferment of ideas, a genuine revolution like the French may result. If it is simply due to the decrepitude of authority, the solution is the substitution of a fresh authority, but whether that substitute is external or internal depends upon local circumstances”. This is the situation Pakistan faces today.
“The greatest threat facing Pakistan comes from terrorism not India”, said US Army General David Petraeus in a speech at Harvard University. “The existential threat”, Petraeus said, “is internal extremists and not India”. Similar alarming statements emanate daily from Washington. Contrary to what the Obama administration says, the greatest threat to Pakistan, in fact the entire Islamic world, stems not from religious militancy and sectarianism but from the surging American imperialism. Terrorism is not indigenous to Pakistan. It is the direct consequence of American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and American Drone attacks in FATA. Religious extremism and sectarianism are symptoms of a chronic malady which has afflicted the Islamic world since the demise of the Holy Prophet. It is not a new phenomenon. It is an internal dispute with liberalizers or secularists within our religion. American imperialism, on the other hand, poses an altogether different and much more dangerous threat.
This is the darkest era in the history of Islam since the 13th century when the Mongols ransacked the Islamic world. Those who oppose American aggression are branded anti-American, terrorists and extremists. Afghanistan and Iraq, two sovereign, independent Muslims countries are under American military occupation. “Anyone can see what happened in Iraq. It was nothing more than a war of colonial conquest fought for oil, dressed up as a crusade for western life and liberty. And its authors were a clique of war – hungry Judeo – Christian geo-political fantasists who hijacked the media and exploited America’s post-September 11 psychopathy”. These words are not mine; they are spoken in John le Carres’s new novel “Absolute Friends” and all too accurately expose the true nature of the so-called American war against terrorism. Afghans paid a horrible price for not meeting US demands and defying the world’s sole superpower. Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are next on the hit list. It is now abundantly clear that Pakistan, the only nuclear power in the Islamic world, will soon be denuclearized and emasculated.
By succumbing to American pressure, we managed to secure a temporary reprieve. But at what price? Pakistan is splattered with American fortresses, seriously compromising our internal and external sovereignty. American security personnel stationed on our soil move in and out of the country without any let or hindrance. Pakistan has become a launching pad for military operations against neighbouring Muslim countries. We have been drawn into somebody else’s war without understanding its true dimension or ultimate objectives. Nuclear Pakistan has been turned into a ‘rentier state’ and an American lackey, currently engaged in a proxy war against its own people in FATA and PATA.
America has turned Afghanistan into the mother of all quagmires and is threatening to enact the same gory drama in Pakistan. They have destroyed a sovereign, independent country and shattered an equilibrium that kept Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns from each other’s throats for centuries. Their presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan is unwelcome and disruptive. Obama is sinking further and further into an endless conflict and a black hole in Afghanistan. The wisest thing America can do in its own national interest is to follow the first rule of holes, stop digging and get out.
In Afghanistan, the United States finds itself in a position similar to that of Nathan Rothschild, more than 150 years ago. The richest man in the world in the early decades in the 19th century, Rothschild died in 1837 of an infection of which the poorest Englishman could easily have been cured in the next century by readily available antibiotics. All of Rothschild’s wealth could not give him what had not yet been invented, and all of the vast military and economic might of the United States cannot secure what lies beyond the power of guns to compel and money to buy – victory in Afghanistan.
It is a misconception that Pakistan is, or is on the point of becoming a “failed state”. The Joint Forces Command recently issued a study saying that Pakistan could be in danger of rapid and sudden collapse. It most assuredly will not. Pakistan has demonstrated an impressive capacity to overcome crises of which we have had our fair share. Pakistan is not case of failed state. It is a case of failed leadership. Pakistan is caught between a hard place and many rocks, with a nuclear bomb in one hand and a beggar’s bowl in the other. Isn’t it a great tragedy that at a time when statesmanship of a very high order is the need of the hour, public stage is filled by weak-kneed triflers, mountebanks and charlatans begrimed with corruption?
Today Pakistan has a disjointed, lopsided, topsy-turvy, hybrid political system – a non-sovereign rubber stamp parliament, an “accidental president”, and a weak and ineffective prime minister – a system they call “pure democracy”. In the words of Oliver Hardy, “a fine mess they have got us into”. Democracy is a splendid conception, but it has a disadvantage on occasions of placing in the lead men whose hands are dirty, who are mired in corruption, who are dodgy, who will sap the strength of a country, not in years, but over a period of months, who will demoralize and encompass the collapse of a great nation in the space of a few months. When a nation is in crisis, it needs a man to match the time. In other countries, crises produced great leaders. In our country, leaders produce crises. When they go abroad or speak to Foreign Heads of State, Pakistanis sit on the edge of their collective seats wondering how their rulers will embarrass them next.
Failure is the most often heard expression in Pakistan today. Some say we are at the last quarter of an hour. These are times of great trouble in Pakistan. These are times that try men’s souls and moments when love for your country overrides all other considerations and calls for supreme sacrifice. It is not enough to sit back and let history slowly evolve. To settle back into your cold-hearted acceptance of the status quo is not an option. At times like these it is necessary to venture into the hazardous wilderness. The present leadership is taking Pakistan to a perilous place. The course they are on leads downhill. It appears as if we are on a phantom train that is fast gathering momentum and we cannot get off. I am reminded of some lines from an unknown writer about a railway accident:
Who is in charge of the clattering train,
And the pace is hot, and the points are near,
And sleep has deadened the driver’s ear,
And the signals flash through the night in vain,
For Death is in charge of the clattering train.
So what is to be done? Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. Nowhere is that more accurately reflected than in the handful of persons who rallied round the deposed chief justice and changed the course of history in Pakistan. So let us get together. The battle for the restoration of deposed Judges is over. The Battle for Pakistan is about to begin.
The writer is a former federal secretary. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org