The way forward | Pakistan Today

The way forward

  • Let actions speak louder than words

From elections in 2013 to the elections in July, 2018. Imran Khan and his party developed a very sale-able narrative of “accountability for corruption”. In the process not only did he slander every single government functionary but also offered promises to turn Pakistan into a land of milk and honey in no time, if voted to power.

Obstinacy is a trait most leaders possess, but they also know when to exercise flexibility. The trait of being resolute and being obstinate are mutually exclusive. They do not mean the same thing. If obstinacy made Imran Khan win the election, it is resoluteness of purpose and deliverance of promise that is required of the government today. Before turning 100 days old, the government had begun to show signs of being tired, senile, rudderless and directionless. The results were so obvious, even before the elections were held, but the lack of preparation to running the government machinery became visible in the very first four weeks of installation.

Leaders create teams. It is a good thing to lead from the front, but that does not mean you can lead a nation with limited traits. It was expected that Imran Khan would instill and imbibe within himself such leadership traits that go beyond those which enabled him to lead ten people successfully. Here, we are talking of 200 million or so diverse individuals who need to be harnessed and channeled towards one common goal.

Sadly, his (Imran Khan’s) closet coterie of people, did very little in preparing themselves for the assignments given to them; or more appropriately, that came their way. Fine, most of them are learning on the job, which isn’t a bad move. However, the speed to climb the learning curve needs to be put on full acceleration. This can happen only where there is focus… focus requires undiluted attention.

The government should have just one media briefing per fortnight, not a daily over-dose of deafening, ill-logical arguments and allegations. Only in case of urgency should there be an unplanned media briefing.

Imran Khan, through a cabinet decision, should restrict the appearance of ministers, advisors, self-styled consultants on TV talk shows, who essentially are without substance barring a few. These shows are watched by the’ semi-‘literate’ who find voting a senseless exercise. The contents of these political commentaries, if they can be respectfully called so, are an oscillation not from sublime to ridiculous but from ridiculous to extremely ridiculous! Instead Imran Khan should task them to spend those “costly hours” of TV appearance towards either being at their respective ministries or be in their constituencies. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was brilliant, but he was undone by his closet comrades. They betrayed his vision and ideology. The sycophants went over-board; first in making him look and feel like the Mesiah — the demi god; then by making him look like the most evil individual. In the process we (the nation) lost a great son, who at least had a vision for the country, albeit some of it bordering on idealism. Imran Khan should note this.

The government should have just one media briefing per fortnight, not a daily over-dose of deafening, ill-logical arguments and allegations

As a compatriot to the Prime Minister, I am concerned for him. His inner coterie must not only be reigned in but they must dedicate, as good followers, to make their leader successful. This can be done if they concentrate on their respective assignments. Sometimes, like my own self, many are baffled when the prime minister seeks out the “Ali Babas” (not to be confused with Alibaba of the dot com, fame, but from the Arabian Nights), in the land of pure to take advice on how to catch the proverbially “forty”, nay “millions” of thieves. What advice does Imran Khan expect on taxation from the tax evaders? Please think.

The prime minister should frequently meet entrepreneurs and ask them point blank, how much of their amassed liquidity are they putting back as ‘equity’ into new projects. This wait and see attitude of over fifteen years must end.

Imran Khan should task his ambassador to South Korea to bring in business delegations to explore investment opportunities. How many precious, hard earned dollars do we spend as a nation on buying Samsung cell phones? Ask your finance minister. Why can’t the chairperson of Samsung be called to meet up the prime minister, who can easily persuade him to put up a manufacturing facility in Pakistan. The cell phones so produced would not only cater to local market, but could also be exported to closer markets of the Gulf and Africa.

I had an eye-opening visit to Hyderabad (India) to attend an international conference. If a city like Hyderabad can attract global IT investment and have branches of all the well known global universities, why can’t Karachi, Lahore, Sialkot? What does Hyderabad offer? A city with an educated population; a government that facilitates ways of doing business and a stable social environment. Imran Khan must create at least a dozen “Hyderabads” in Pakistan before the next elections. If Mahathir can lead at ninety you Mr Prime Minister are fit to go for next twenty years. You must not fall into the trap of petty day to day dirty politics.

The ‘economic diplomacy’ initiative is commendable, considering the economic abyss we have landed into as a nation. However, this initiative does not confer the liberty for issues of foreign policy to be discussed on the streets or public meetings. Ministers, who have nothing to do with it, shouldn’t be commenting upon foreign relations. If foreign policy is too serious a matter to be not left alone with the politicians, then those not within its ambit are not licensed and hence must be stopped from comment.

The first hundred days did not really matter, nor had an impact on the common man. The celebrations were unwarranted. They had no lustre. Think long term, not 100 days or first year in office. Leaders rarely get to see the benefit of their toil. Our own dear Mr Jinnah lived only a year after having worked relentlessly for decades to give us Pakistan.

What was wrong with previous governments is well known; Imran Khan don’t waste your precious time on recounting their failures. Put forward your successes, however small they may sound.

Mr Prime Minister, people admire you for your inspiration and desire to build a Medina like State, but don’t bury yourself into a pile of sand, thinking and pretending that you are leading Medinites of 14 centuries ago. Let’s accept that we are nowhere near being a place like Medina. The need for idealism to be backed adequately by reality is the job of a leader.

Prime minister, your politics has to be of performance. Failure is not an option at the end of your term. No one person in Pakistan today wants you to fail, except the limited and bankrupt politicians, all the rest want you to succeed. And for that you must speak to the masses and the man on the street, through legislation, through policy making and through strict implementation of decisions. Give nobody reprieve. Cabinet’s motto should be the Churchillian slogan of, “blood, sweat, tears and toil.”