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The concept of self-discipline

Democracy calls for higher levels of self-discipline. The technology is imbibed in higher technological elements of personality. As humans, we talk of technology transfers and all those modern words which have no meaning in a society that is at best primordial. The social sides of humanity have never been touched by what makes a country, albeit through intangibles, that cost nothing in terms of fiscal costs. It does, however, lean heavily on time commitments by parents and all those charged with considering what is necessary in developing a nation through self-discipline. Go back to the tie of Descartes remarked on good sense that everyone thinks that he is well-supplied with it and no one desires more of it. With self-discipline, it is just the opposite. Self-discipline in Pakistan has taken a kick in these elections for how could anyone do what he or they did?

There is much unhappiness and personal distress in Pakistan because of failures to seek new pathways through crooked means. Pakistanis fail control tempers, political appetites, passions and impulses. The desire to win at all costs, is neither of these but a calculated effort at crooked work and gimmickry. Democracy that has been shouted for so long by all the anchorpersons has taken a hit. Five years in power would mean that the country can go to hell but that the elected must have access to power and glory whatever the cost.

What elements are necessary for self-restraint to come into play? We have no or very little history of thought process that comes through in the Western philosophical mind. Reason, passion and appetite are to be in harmony if self-discipline is to play a part in the development of a nation. From Plato to Shakespeare we have had from the West a gleaning of what these people narrated for a nation to pick up its threads and be a nation. This is well embodied in Brutus calling Julius Caesar 'This was the noblest of Roman of all of them all'. His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say "this was a man".

This sublime behaviour is not without recourse to successful everyday behaviour. Are the elected representatives to give off their best through a system of excellent work behaviour or would they fall victims to their lesser sides that Freud called the 'Id' in their personality - the dark and seamy side of it. Are they then a part of the rentier class - taking something without putting any hardwork? The mindset of a feudal is based on no work but all leisure. What of these elections? How are we to shift the good from the bad? There are many ways to skin a cat. That said I am not here to catch anyone. One feels that anything that has a bad beginning will never be able to govern and defend the country and the economy. Falsehood does not pay. The truthful are the ones that gain from the success of a system and not the false economy people; false economy in the sense that the fundamentals of the system are flawed and made so by design. In the fundamentals no one talks of economic theories but of human behaviour. It is becoming a serious matter and one fears for the country for if cultural dacoits take the place of governors there will be hell to pay sooner or later. Money not earned decently has a way of putrefying and leaving a bad smell.

Strong desire is always fulfilled by hardwork and not by seeking undue benefits from the ordinary citizens. The concept of citizenship is an important element in the development of a nation state. Very soon the parochial interest will come forward. Citizenships are of many kinds - one can and be a citizen of one's family, of a caste, of a city or of a province or of a country but the beauty of all these citizenships is that when a higher citizenship calls then the lower one gives in to the more mature system of citizenship. Pakistanis, unfortunately, have not learnt that lesson despite the debacles that we have been having.

The elections leave much to be desired. Out of these ashes no phoenix is going to rise. The burnt ashes will break this down. There is no touchstone that will deliver what we are unable to work for ourselves.

Governance is impossible in this country. We will have so many hiccups that the patient the country may well have a heart seizure. The real strength of a country is the institutions that have been built and these institutions are now moth eaten. New ones have to be designed and do we have the power and the imagination to do that. I do not think so. Institutions are built when the leaders have a perception and a cognitive ability to foresee and to develop appropriate options for those principles. Name one that has been created that has developed its options in keeping with the objectives of this country. There is a lack of imagination and I am not surprised at that. The rote learning that goes on has stifled the imagination of the students.

How is the newly-elected going to develop a sense for the poor? How will the Punjab model work for the 18 crores of people? Let me give you an example out of water and power. Before Tarbela came up the Nandipur research station was given the task of modelling the Tarbela and its requirements. We know what a hash was made of that arrangement. The scale of an arrangement is not replicated from a minor to such a major project as Tarbela. We did have a Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) to handle the various aspects of the project. He did what no engineer would have been able to do and that saved the day for Pakistan. Now that Pakistan has had elections, the time has come to implement the promises made to the people of Pakistan. It may be difficult as they have promised the world to their constituents. Kalabagh Dam (KBD) is a promise that N league made to the people of Punjab. What will happen if that is started and the politics of irrigation is not understood by the political masters who in any case are not given to a knowledge economy and whose span of attention is measurable in seconds. Do they have anyone with the facility of GIK? What happens if they build Bhasha as well as KBD and how will they handle the political fallout. Political will is another matter, although they have Sartaj Aziz to handle economic matters but the promises are wild and meant for the purpose of electioneering.

A social outlook at the political power is called for and I hope that humility will be the order of the day. One hopes that there will be surprises but the way of the work is difficult and onerous. Self-discipline is what one is looking for in the newly-elected power structure. Where will that self-discipline come from if the aspect was not there in the first place? Power can fool many of us. There is no place where practice can be done to learn self-discipline. It comes with the times and with a focused mental development. Can humility, self-discipline and political power go together? Your guess can be as good as mine.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013


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