VIEW: Men without substance —Andleeb Abbas - Sunday, February 27, 2011

Source :\02\27\story_27-2-2011_pg3_3

Decision-making done on criteria based on who can show off the best allegiance to the leaders is a sure method of nourishing incompetence and
non-performance. Such decision-making is always going to backfire in the long run

The season for hiring and firing is in. The criterion for recruiting ministers or coalition partners, as expected, is based on who can sell their loyalties the quickest and the cheapest. On these criteria an abundance of supply exists. Within hours the terms of endearment can change into a tirade of allegations and overnight they declare their loyalty to the ones they were spitting fire on minutes earlier. All this under the guise of politics being the art of the possible.

Therefore, announcements, declarations, deadlines have ceased to matter. The curious case of Raymond Davis is reaching an anti-climactic culmination. The US threat has petered out to “we will not let this incident affect our relationship” stance. The Pakistani government is stoically insisting on the court decision being supreme. The media has run out of steam as they forecast the family of the two boys accepting money from the Americans might deprive them of a chance to make more millions over talk show viewership.

The government is in torrid busyness. They have been frantically trying to assert themselves within the party as well as with its coalition partners. Out go Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Fauzia Wahab while Firdous Ashiq Awan gets a promotion for her no-holds-barred defence of the government’s wrongdoings. These changes are confirmation of the fact that the government has fallen into the same trap of surrounding itself with people who will feed their egos at the cost of their own demise. Decision-making done on criteria based on who can show off the best allegiance to the leaders is a sure method of nourishing incompetence and non-performance. Such decision-making is always going to backfire in the long run. However, leaders without a vision are not capable of looking at the long run and normally work on a daily wage based mentality where impulse, whims and inclinations guide their decision-making rather than a rational strategic analysis of what all may be the consequence of such spur-of-the-moment thinking. Immature leadership is destructive for others and also self-dissolving eventually. However, leaders who cannot see beyond their own inflated egos tend to dismiss any feedback contrary to their own set perception of being right.

Fortunately for the government, the opposition is also running out of options of whom to befriend and whom to discard. The PML-N, after giving an ultimatum of 45 days for implementation over its 10-point agenda is now finding itself running out of options of opposition and retaliation. With some mumbled threats of a long march if their demands are not met, they will extend the deadline knowing fully well that the long march for them may turn out to be a solitary walk exposing their steady popularity demise. The Punjab government has fired the PPP ministers from the government as a proof of their seriousness. They are also planning to welcome their enemy’s enemy, i.e. the Unification Bloc that has deserted the PML-Q.

If the ruling regime is directionless and the PML-N short on options, the coalition partners are also meandering away from their stated stance with little regard to their earlier promises. The MQM and the PML-Q, the two marginalised parties, one geographically, the other by its own members, are making ridiculous attempts at creating pointless alliances and futile synergies. The recent overtures made by the MQM towards the PML-Q are another example of political infidelity. The MQM has made its positioning very strongly as an anti-feudal party for the poor and have made all the right statements to support it. Unfortunately, they have also fallen into the trap of not being able to live by these statements due to their ambition to acquire more power. They were against authoritarian rule but compromised with Musharraf as their man was appointed the governor of Sindh; they are against corruption and inflation but are ready to look the other way as far as forming coalitions with the PPP is concerned; and they are dead against feudals yet have passionately embraced the PML-Q, which is full of people who represent a party of the rich for the rich; all this for an entrance into the Punjab powerhouse. The statement of Dr Farooq Sattar on the PML-Q being the king-makers and that together they will become king producers is a sad proof of the fact that the commonality in all these parties is not the welfare of the public but a wish to accumulate and wield power enough to dominate and rule above all — intentions not very different from the despotic leadership we have all been condemning in the Middle East.

In an attempt to exploit this huge vacuum of men with substance, Shah Mehmood Qureshi tried to become the rebel with a cause, a leader in the making. However, Mr Qureshi’s hour of glory turned into a one-day wonder where his self-righteous declarations of his betrayed honour mesmerised viewers for a while, only to dissipate into another soap opera episode with a predictable ending. His wonderful style of communication has fallen short on substance as his present anti-American stance is in total contradiction of his lame handling of devastating drone attacks while in power. He keeps on declaring his lifelong love for the party yet keeps on moaning and groaning about the people leading it. It has become increasingly difficult for people to buy this late call of conscience from a man renowned for taking full advantage of his position in terms of unmerited appointments in his ministry and abuse of official facilities.

This potpourri of politicians going beyond all limits to muster a majority may seem a hopeless situation to most in the country, but the bright side of this dark side of politics is that this open house political insanity has made the public united on the cause of not trusting any of these proven moral defaulters. As in the Middle East, the public have vowed not to accept monopoly rule; the people of this country are ready to reject the oligopoly enjoyed by these staid old parties and go for a complete change and transformation. The wind of change may be ignored by the politicians and laughed away by the cynics, but as Julius Caesar was warned: “Beware the Ides of March.”

The writer is a consultant and can be reached at

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