Foxy, wily and cunning. These are the sought after, admired, applauded, garlanded, aspired qualities to be a “role model” leader in Pakistan. Aside from these attractive values and traits there are certain code of conduct that qualify you to climb the leadership ladder. The ability to be shameless, the capability to be ruthless, and the quality to be conscience less. This value system combined with these behaviours is a sure shot recipe for a long stay in the top positions of political corridors. Such is the adulation for such “men of dishonour” that no amount of discrediting can affect their hearts and minds and the aspiring Wannabes.
Calling them leaders is an insult by all universal standards, but locally it sells. Unfortunately, the societal values of whatever sells, gels. That perhaps is the biggest tragedy of our time. That perhaps is the more dangerous virus than corona. That is perhaps more toxic than cyanide. This has and will pervade in society and affect our younger generation. The standard of ethics has gone lower than the bottom. The tolerance for wrong is growing intolerably. Wrong has become right and right has become foolish. A system deceiver is admired more than a system adherer. Somebody going ahead by breaking the traffic lights and jumping queues to reach the front is looked at with awe and the poor guy waiting for his turn is termed a “loser”.
This is known as social and moral decay. That means that people living in such societies in a major way have lost values of being right and upright. That means society in particular is obsessed with easy living stoked by easy money. That means that society rewards the wrongs and punishes the rights. This means that those who talk about morality are mocked and those who talk about position and power by hook or by crook are worshipped. Aided and abetted by the intellectual corrupt of the social system they carve out a narrative against all those who dare to break this soulless cult. Let us look at the variety of misnomers that are governing the leadership ideology in the country:
1 Integrity is counterproductive- There is whole debate developed by the “intellectuals” on how being honest is not really a trait that is required for development. Some people suggest that honest people should work as imams. Examples of India and China are quoted as countries with corruption but developing fast. Similarly, a whole discourse is being developed on competence and experience being the main ingredient for success. Competence is a main ingredient but without integrity it will only lead to development of the few at the cost of many. Then again the interpretation of competence is very interesting. Competence is viewed not just to run but also to fool the system. Current example of how Nawaz Sharif managed to hoodwink the system and escape and how Asif Zardari purportedly stole the seat for Gilani is quoted on being “experience+competence=success”.
2 Parliamentary norms and language-calling a spade a spade is such “poor manners and bad parliamentary etiquette”. If the opposition leaders have been convicted by the highest courts on charges of lying, deceiving and looting, calling them so is such bad manners. If these convicted people are demanding VIP facilities in jail, not giving them is considered such “narrow mindedness and smallness of heart”. If the PM’s house is now being converted into a seat of learning this is such a folly and “misuse” of constitutional symbols. Pretense, hypocrisy and assumed bonhomie are considered wisdom and straight behavior as political immaturity.
3 Your position, ex or present, justifies your crimes- Every punishment, every accountability in front of the institutions is considered unbecoming. The words used are “How can three times Prime Minister” be treated in such a shoddy way. Even when they are convicted and disqualified they are by dint of their ex-position “treated with care”. If they manage to hoodwink the system and run away from the country, it is the fault of the system. Imagine how some journalists went to court to fight for the injustice of taking absconder Nawaz Sharif’s speeches off media. This was all done in the name of freedom of expression of a “3 times Prime Minister”. The fact that he has for the second time duped the public is something that is considered too minor for a “3 times Prime Minister”.
Leadership is never a position but a set of traits and behavior. If the minute you leave your position you are in search of ‘NROs’, the great escape and the biggest hood winking operation, you will remain the most disrespected person in the world. Imagine how their loot and laundering is trivialized and imagine how every scuffle is amplified to give the impression of “non parliamentary behavior unbecoming of people of office”.
Asif Zardari is called “Mr. ten percent” in nearly every worthwhile column and documentary in the world. Nawaz Sharif and his family made cover pictures for all international publications in 160 countries when the Panama Leaks revealed his “black money havens.” Nawaz Sharif was refused a speaking slot in 2017 World Economic Forum due to the Panama Leaks. In response to these facts the answer is “Imran khan has corrupt people in his team”.
The fact that nobody can call Imran Khan corrupt is the reason why the narrative of the opposition is to try to convince that he is incompetent. The fact that Pakistan is a shining example of corona and economic management is quickly rubbished by comparing the economic indicators of Pakistan when the PMLN and PPP were in power. The fact that their growth rate was based on debt, their dollar rate caused the exports to crash is ignored. The fact that when they left in 2018 the economy was termed by Moody’s as negative and unstable with bankruptcy looming large. All this is conveniently forgotten and silenced by selective technical data quoting.
When your role models become those who make the “quickest buck” and those who “proudly splash their deception and betrayal” rest assured that the future of your youth is on the verge of a social and moral collapse. The fight in Pakistan is not corona, economy, health or education but a value system that glorifies criminals, convicts, looters and liars. Unless this glorification stops, development will always be artificial and botoxed.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021