Monday, June 13, 2005

Not mixing up the short term with the long term

My view is that the people of Pakistan have always taken the short term view and have looked for immediate salvation, rather than taking the long term view and accepting that there will be pain to bear along the way.

This is why whenever we have a new leader, people get excited and start believing that salvation has finally arrived from the heavens. Whether that leader be Ayub Khan, Bhutto the father, Zia ul Haq, Bhutto the daughter, Nawaz Sharif or now Pervez Musharraf.

Given this prevailing frame of mind, we are always looking for an individual who can come in and clean up the mess overnight (hence the calls for Imran Khan), rather than setting up a constitutional process and forcing whoever comes into power to govern within that process. Not allowing individual leaders to change the constitution to perpetuate their own rule. In this case, we might get some corrupt or incompetent leaders but we MUST stick to the process and allow power to change hands by constitutional means (this has never happened in Pakistan except in the case of Ch. Mohammad Ali, I believe).

If the US can survive the current leadership, we have to believe that Pakistan is strong enough to survive a few years of inept or corrupt leadership as well. Democracy and the will of the people have a way of cleansing the system out but we need patience to let this happen over a period of time.

Even though I think both Benazir and Nawaz damaged the country significantly, the preferable route in my mind would have been to take the short term pain and let the people of Pakistan make the change through elections. This way, these leaders would not have been able to claim that they had been victimized by the military or the Bureaucracy and come back to power again and again. I know some people believe that Pakistan is too fragile to withstand too many years of bad leadership. But between the two terms of Benazir and those of Nawaz Sharif, the country suffered for many years. Wouldn't it have been better to let each of them complete their term and then be rejected by the people? At least they would not be in a position to come back to power now.

Abid Farooq


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