Of Political Titans and Pygmies

Currently, there is no nationally acceptable leader of impeccable character, principles, substance, credibility, moral authority, and superiority around.

Pakistan is going through tor­rid times, the likes of which are rare even in its notorious­ly chequered, tumultuous his­tory. It suffers relentlessly from chronic political in­stability, perpetual eco­nomic near-insolvency, and a pervasive, omi­nous air of ubiquitous doom and despair. An unyielding crisis of lead­ership continues to haunt it. It seeks a charismatic visionary leader with strategic foresight, in­surmountable will, and determina­tion to lead it out of the quagmire it presently finds itself in.

Pakistan’s political spectrum, however, is inundated with politi­cal pygmies, masquerading as po­litical titans, with nary a genuine statesman/national leader of cal­ibre in sight!

Of late, Pakistan has suffered im­mensely on a number of scores. One, the events of 9 May, a despica­ble travesty of massive proportions, persist as bleeding sores on the na­tion’s conscience. It was abhorrent, should have never happened, or better still, been pre-empted. All guilty of that perversion must be brought to justice. Period. Two, the Government’s handling of the af­termath of the 9 May fiasco left a lot to be desired. Its actions and those of the LEAs, local, civil administra­tions, media and judiciary seemed to have perverted normally accept­able standards of duty, justice, and fair play. Three, these (in)actions made the entire exercise incredu­lous, widened the political divide and grossly destabilized the socio-political environment. Four, the events of 9 May ought to have been brought to a prompt, incisive, just, fair and logical closure at the ear­liest, at best say within 30-45 days. That would have met the demands of justice expeditiously, restored political stability and might even have, by now, ushered in a period of political accommodation between the political antagonists. The econ­omy might have resurged too. Five, the state however erred and must now contend with its dreadful ram­ifications, least of all being rampant socio-political instability. Further­more, polarization is now flourish­ing, crystallizing and even becom­ing institutionalized. Six, economic growth has hence remained stunt­ed, domestic and foreign invest­ments scarce and Pakistan’s future economic prospects uncertain. Sev­en, the events before, during and after the Elections-2024 further vi­tiated the socio-political environ­ment as they could not garner uni­versal acceptance. If not addressed immediately, the political chasms are bound to become even more acute, severe and progressively un­bridgeable. The political spectrum needs to be brought back to an even keel, post haste.

A Truth & Reconciliation Com­mission (TRC) has been bandied about for some time now. However, it is an absolute non-starter in Pak­istan’s peculiar socio-political envi­ronment. As a nation, we have rare­ly demonstrated any penchant for speaking the truth, particularly to ourselves, or facing up to unpalat­able facts. The Hamood ur Rehm­an Commission Report and the US Raid in Abbottabad Report etc are glaring examples. However, a TRC would come with numerous fault lines. One, do we have that specific socio-political environment essen­tial for such an exercise to succeed? Two, are we intellectually and psy­chologically attuned/ready to ac­cept our follies openly and exposing ourselves, warts and all, to public scrutiny, opprobrium, scorn, and shame? Three, what will the Terms of Reference for this TRC be? Will it be for individuals/politicians/polit­ical parties only or will it include all national institutions too? Four, our national institutions, over the de­cades, have a lot to answer for. They should invariably include the Parlia­ment, political parties, judiciary, the bureaucracy, the Establishment, the Election Commission of Pakistan, all LEAs and intelligence agencies, media houses, businessmen (sug­ar, wheat, oil cartels, IPPs etc), even religious-political leaders and so on and so forth. All organs of state ap­pear to be in the crosshairs of such a TRC - the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary along with oth­er major national institutions. Five, does this nation, collectively at the institutional level and individually, have that essential moral courage to speak the truth, own up to all its weak moments, misdeeds, and mis­calculations and seek redemption/self-redemption? Finally, if all our institutions and so-called national leaders have something or the oth­er to atone for, then who is going to organize, conduct, implement and bless this act of reconciliation?

Currently, there is no national­ly acceptable leader of impeccable character, principles, substance, credibility, moral and physical courage, moral authority and su­periority around who could do so. There is none who could rally and lead the nation out of the sickening, debilitating, demoralizing political morass it finds itself in. There are no genuine political titans around who could capture the imagination of the people, inspire, motivate, and lead them in this critical time. There is no statesman/national leader with the strategic vision and fore­sight, clarity of thought and pur­pose, determination, selflessness, patriotism, capability, capacity, am­bition, and drive who could lift the nation’s morale and put it squarely on the road to progress and pros­perity. There is a general dearth of role models at the national lev­el. Are we then doomed to compul­sive, obsessive political insanity; continuously reinforcing political failures, pathetic mediocrity, and corruption? Must we continue to entrust the same acknowledged political pygmies with national leadership, time and again? (Politi­cal Insanity, by this scribe, The Na­tion, 05 January 2024).

The centre of gravity to resolving this current political imbroglio lies in bringing the 9 May debacle to a just, fair, transparent, equitable, uni­versally accepted and prompt clo­sure. That might bring the fractured, fragmented, polarised socio-politi­cal environment and its volatile un­dercurrents to rest. The stage could thus be set for an All-Parties Confer­ence and a Grand National Dialogue to conclude viable Charters of De­mocracy and Economy. Such a con­sensus is imperative for the future of Pakistan’s politics, democracy, polit­ical stability and the consequent economic recovery and resurgence. The political elite needs to evolve and rise in stature, stand up and be counted for the country. The threats and stakes are ominously existen­tial; for it as well as the state!

Imran Malik
The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army. He can be reached at im.k846@gmail.com and tweets @K846Im.

The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army. He can be reached at im.k846@gmail.com and tweets @K846Im.

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