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Humayun Gauhar | 1 MARCH, 2015

Corruption is Economic Terrorism, the highest form of treason

Minar e Pakistan in Lahore


Last week I said that Pakistan is a natural state, the new brand name of the millennia-old Indus Valley Civilization. But we left answered why states break, which begs the question, why are states made?

In a nutshell, states are made to improve the human condition. Modern day states comprise many nations, cities, towns, villages, hamlets and farmlands. When one or more nation decide to form a new political entity by ceding some of their sovereignty to a centre to look after some of their common interests, they call it a ‘state’ and pay money to the centre by way of taxes to carry out the responsibilities that they have entrusted to it. Slogans aside, they do so for self-protection and survival because they believe that in such an arrangement they would be safe, their lives would improve and their progeny would have a better future.

When progress stops or regresses states cease to serve the purpose they were made for and break. Disintegration of weak or weakening states sometimes accelerates because it attracts foreign interference, meddling and intervention. Thus states are neither immutable nor immortal but highly dependent on success and relevance for survival. The graveyards of history stand testimony.

Societal evolution has started diluting the concept of state with:

1. Multiple nationalities with little concern for oath of loyalty. It is difficult to be loyal to two or more states, particularly when they are at contretemps.

2. The formation of multi-state groupings, associations, military organizations, trade blocs like the European Union with a single currency for the majority of members, their nationals not requiring passports or visas to go to other member states whenever they wish and for as long as they wish, even to get employment or set up a business.

The prime reason for natural states breaking (as part of Pakistan did in 1971) is due to:

1. Internal weakening because it tries to punch above its weight as Pakistan did in 1965 that led to bootless war with India, making the Bengalis feel unprotected that led to the Six Points and a surge of Bengali nationalism.

2. Ideological confusion that persists in Pakistan to this day – was it made to be a theological Islamic state run by obscurants and clerics, a homeland for India’s Muslims fearful of Hindu domination or an Islamic welfare state?

3. Non-delivery rapidly worsening in Pakistan (and globally) given increasing inequality levels.

4. The chronic follies and foibles of people in electing, backing and supporting wrong rulers.

5. When states suffer from divisions on the purpose of their existence, their ideology, political and economic systems and even their sovereignty, nations comprising them tend to return to their original ethnic and parochial nationhood above loyalty to the state, get weakened by moral and intellectual decadence and change character. It is then that new states form by dividing either along ethnic nationhood lines or by dividing and lumping diverse nations into new states. We in Pakistan should watch it, because we have weakened ourselves woefully through ideological confusion and moral, intellectual and political decadence and have opened our gates to hegemons on whom we are dependent, lost our independence, sovereignty and control over our decision making.

Don’t fret. This could be a passing learning-the-hard-way phase in the state’s evolution. Not Pakistan but it’s constitution and systems are in danger of breaking that makes it look like Pakistan is breaking. For all intents and purposes, Pakistan’s constitution and its systems have evaporated. But if the constitution is not made workable soon and political, economic, legal, educational and bureaucratic systems, including the administrative structure of the state, changed to reflect ground realities and the genius of its people, the life of the state could be threatened.

Every leader should know the essential qualities that make for good leadership, the most important ingredient in a state’s success. Good leaders develop their states by achieving self-reliance that rids them of dependence and reclaims sovereignty so that they can deliver to their people. Without good leadership the most powerful of states can petrify, as they have done repeatedly. Empires and superpowers that seemed indestructible have fallen because of decadence caused by hubris.

The qualities that make good leaders at every level – heads of state and government, ministers, parliamentarians, provincial governments, judges, civil and military bureaucrats and heads of state owned enterprises are:

1. Destiny: A leader must believe that he is a man of destiny, charged to take his state to greatness, else why was he born. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto once told my father Altaf Gauhar that if he was not born to rule why was he born at all, or words to that effect.

2. Cardinal Principle: To rule successfully is to rule well by giving the people what they want, their fundamental rights and basic needs to live a dignified, happy and upwardly mobile life. This is a cardinal principle.

3. Making History: Good leaders have conviction that they are the makers of good history. Its easy to make bad history.

4. Command: Leadership means to lead those supposed to be led, not be led by them. A leader should command, not be impressionable and get swayed by the amateurish and often self-serving advice of friends, relatives, advisers, media, public opinion and politicians with their own agendas or what the baying mob wants. He mustn’t be impetuous and think things through before taking decisions and then do what he thinks is best for his country and do it in the right way. The right thing done in the wrong way makes the right thing seem wrong. A leader must have the ability to tell people when they are wrong even at the risk of losing popularity and convince them about what is right.

5. Patriotism: Patriotism doesn’t only mean betraying the interests of one’s country to another. More importantly, it means a leader not damaging his country for personal gain. Wasteful expenditure, show window projects for kickbacks and cheap popularity damage the national economy and impoverish the state.

6. Corruption is Economic Terrorism, the highest form of Treason: I cannot emphasize this enough. Leaders must be incorruptible in all respects, financial, moral and intellectual. They should thank God for their high station and faithfully discharge the responsibility entrusted to them, treat personal wealth as a Satanic Golden Calf and not use his position of power to make money illegally. Every leader must know that he will take nothing with him except his intentions and deeds. Have you ever seen a U-Haul truck going behind a funeral procession, even of a king, unless you lived in the times of the Pharaohs?

7. Courage: Not just physical but more importantly moral and intellectual, remembering that the dividing line between courage and stupidity is very thin.

8. Intellect: A leader must be wise and intelligent, with knowledge of history, have his finger on the pulse of his people, an understanding of the global dynamic and his state’s place in it.

9. Trustworthy, Sagacious and Truthful: A wise leader holds his office like a Divine trust from God and His vicegerents the people. A wise ruler is truthful yet sagacious enough to know when not to make a truth public if it may compromise the state in any manner. But he should never lie. Only then will his people trust and believe him.

10. Commitment: Have a tunnel vision and not deviate from the national objective of making a great and truly independent state by educating people and making the state strong, rich and progressive in every respect.

11. Effectiveness: The ability to translate plans into timely action. Not appoint and be misled by bad advisers. Not get alienated by firewalls and gatekeepers and become overly dependent on intelligence reports and be wary of conspiracies being hatched by those around him. Else leaders will just be hot air artists always talking about action in the future: “We will do this, we will do that, losing is not an option” blah, blah, blah, brushing urgent issues under the carpets of committees comprising useless stooges. Else one day he will find his castle collapsing around him like a house of cards.

12. Justice: The fulcrum of a state. A state without timely, balanced, equitable and affordable justice is no state at all, just a piece of land inhabited by morons led by gangsters with pompous titles.

13. Institutions: A leader must build institutions that will live beyond him and make decisions institutionally, meticulously follow the law, procedures and rules of business. If any laws, procedures and rules are bad or outdated, correct them. Good leaders make appointments on merit, cut red tape, teach bureaucrats to be public not government servants, create required transparency and make people feel represented in reality.

14. Flexibility: A leader has to be an international grandmaster of three-dimensional political chess. Leaders should be adaptable, be able to roll with the punches, bend in a storm and tweak course when necessary to protect their states without violating fundamental principles of good governance and the interests of his state, without losing sight of the ultimate objective of making his state continuously progressive.

15. Ego: Leaders must keep their egos in check and not fall victim to the icon syndrome. If they do a good job they will automatically become icons anyway.

16. Flattery: Flattery is the greatest weapon of sycophants. Leaders must be able to tell between sycophantic flattery and patriotic good advice. A real friend criticizes and gives bad news; sycophants praise mistakes liberally laced with flattery. I have seen this too often not to know.

17. Hostage: Leaders shouldn’t be hostage to their jobs. Thus their decisions and actions shouldn’t be taken to save, strengthen and prolong their rule.

18. Dynasticism: Dynasty creating leaders are primitive. It goes against wisdom, breaks the rule of merit and the Divine guidance, “Choose from amongst the best.”

19. Head and Heart: Leaders should think with their heads, not their hearts, yet keep the heart always in play, especially when confronted with issues of the people’s happiness.

20. Right from Wrong: Leaders must have the ability to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, good advice from bad advice.

21. Humanely Ruthless: A leader must be humane and ruthless at the same time, humane with the underprivileged yet ruthless with those who become obstacles towards achieving national objectives that divert the country from its destiny.

22. Shun Nepotism: Every leader should be ruthless in shunning nepotism even at the cost of upsetting relatives and losing friends, especially those who would exploit his position for personal gain. Yet he should not shun those with genuine ability who can contribute positively. It’s a fine balancing act, but that is what is expected of a good leader – balance.

23. Prejudice and Vindictiveness: A leader must not let his prejudices and pre-conceived notions, likes and dislikes influence his decisions and he should never be vindictive for slights real or imagined. He shouldn’t see enemies where there are none and create new enemies. A leader should realize that he is the head of a national family and equally responsible for the welfare of all of his people, even those who dislike, don’t support or oppose him.

24. Bad habits: A leader keep a check on his personal proclivities that might not be well received by the public or become grist for the mills of opponents. Its all about making small sacrifices for a larger cause, larger than personal enjoyment.

25. Passion and Fire in the Belly: A good leader should have a fiery passion that it is his destiny to do well by God, the people and his country and be fixated on staying the course without flinching or compromising. Great victories are won with passion.

26. Fear of God: So obvious that it goes without saying, but its easy for a man of power to think he is indestructible. He should remember that there is a day of reckoning on earth and the afterlife no matter how high his station.

These then are my view on the qualities necessary for good leadership. The reader might add or subtract some. Some would call it idealism. But leaders who make history are idealists. Idealism is the stuff new realities are made of. Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a great idealist and made history by simultaneously liberating his people and changing the map of the world by creating a new state. Sadly, his successors lacked the required qualities, made bad history and brought Pakistan to its knees.

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