Loader
Leadership / 11.02.2011

By Ibn-e Eusuf   I often think about the transformation from Indo-Pak to Af-Pak – from being part of a civilization to being part of a problem. Nothing more needs be said except that the transformation was not accidental; it was deliberately engineered and therefore involved winners and losers. I will leave readers to mull over who won and who lost in the process. I wish to focus in this essay not on the past but on the future, on the nature of the problem represented by this Af-Pak pairing. What exactly is it that is common to Afghanistan and Pakistan and what does it mean for the people living in the two countries?
Leadership / 09.01.2011

By Anjum Altaf Like no other political assassination in Pakistan, the recent brutal murder of Salman Taseer should throw into sharp relief the nature of the Pakistani liberal, a condition whose complexities and conflicts belie the simple narratives reflected in headlines like “Pakistani reformer dead” or “Setback for liberals in Pakistan.” Salman Taseer reflected the essence of a certain segment of Pakistani liberaldom – liberals who are highly educated, articulate, erudite, dynamic, successful, affluent and well connected. It is from this group that the most could have been expected in the struggle for reform, but they have been marginalized to the point of irrelevance.  Seen through the lens of conflicted loyalties and aspirations, this phenomenon becomes less opaque: No matter how progressive, the stereotypical liberal harbors a visceral antipathy for the “enemies of Islam,” which leads to knee-jerk responses blind to what is progressive or retrogressive within the implementation of Islam itself or what is in the long-term interests of the majority of the population.
Leadership / 22.03.2009

Varun Gandhi is reported to have said some strong things about Muslims in India. So, I am told, did his father. Let me use this as a peg to say something about Varun’s venerable great-grandfather whose maturity Varun seems unlikely to emulate. But beyond that, let me speculate about some neglected dimensions of the political history of the subcontinent. Two remarkable statements made around the time of the partition of British India continue to intrigue me: Here is Mohammad Ali Jinnah, addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in August 1947: You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State. And here is Jawaharlal Nehru, writing to...

Leadership, Politics / 24.07.2008

Ardeshir Cowasjee is the doyen of Pakistani opinion-makers having been around forever as the leading light of Dawn. For many years now, with great regularity, Mr. Cowasjee has been making a seemingly provocative statement on behalf of Mr. Jinnah. For some reason, this statement has sparked no discussion whatsoever. Here is one version of the statement as expressed in his column of May 25, 2008: “That man of great perception (there were no others to follow him) our founder and maker, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, once prophesied shortly after the making of his country, realising the calibre of men and women around and about him, that each successive government of Pakistan would be worse than its preceding one. This prediction, made 60 years ago, has been eerily correct, and continues to be so.” Every time I have read this statement I have been plagued with doubts. Does Mr. Cowasjee...

Leadership, Pakistan / 31.03.2008

By Samia Altaf  There is a fascinating news report (Jinnah’s New Republic) in an American weekly datelined November 15, 1947 that puts its finger on Pakistan’s most critical weakness – the quality of its leadership. Reporting from Karachi, the author comments on the country’s first cabinet: “With enormous problems, Pakistan has only a very ordinary set of leaders to cope with them”; barring a few “the other members of the cabinet are all mediocrities.” The exceptions identified by the author were the “brilliant” Mr Jinnah, the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. In 2008, the problems have become much more enormous and the leadership has become much more mediocre. Even the exceptions at the very top are conspicuous by their absence. The quality of political leadership went into a steep decline after Mr Jinnah. This was exacerbated by the military’s interruption of the political process that serves as the...

Democracy/Governance, Governance, India, Leadership, Politics / 25.01.2008

In our last post (More on Dynasties and Modernity) we had made the point that “it was the mass of Peoples Party loyalists in Pakistan who were clamoring for the leadership to be passed on to a Bhutto after Benazir—hence the addition of Bhutto to Bilawal’s name.” As if on cue, an op-ed appeared in The News (January 25, 2008) entitled PPP's succession -- not so flawed. The author, a barrister and human rights activist currently based in the UAE, had the following things to say: You will not meet a PPP supporter who will not tell you exactly this--that they want a Bhutto to lead the party. From the workers to the leaders, be they of any ethnic or religious background, all want a Bhutto as their leader. Contrary to what the critics imply, the Bhutto family has not imposed its leadership upon the PPP, or in...

Leadership / 16.01.2008

By Anjum Altaf Professor CM Naim has sent us a unique news report on the creation of Pakistan from the Nation datelined November 15, 1947 (Jinnah’s New Republic by Andrew Roth). Amongst other things the report remarks on the nature of leadership in the new Pakistan: With enormous problems, Pakistan has only a very ordinary set of leaders to cope with them. The brilliant Mr. Jinnah, of course, must be excepted, but he is over seventy and has been in poor health since a severe pneumonia attack two years ago. His voice can barely be heard ten feet away, and he chose to become governor general rather than premier partly because it was an easier post. He has repeatedly told subordinates, "I have done my part of the job; I've given you Pakistan. It is up to you to build it." Premier Liaqat Ali Khan is a competent administrator...

Leadership / 04.01.2008

By Dipankar Gupta Just because we live in a democracy does not mean that we deserve the leaders we get. It is as unrealistic to believe that voters can choose an ideal candidate as it is for a consumer to get that ideal car, refrigerator, washing machine, or whatever. Till the mid 1980s our roads were clogged by historical throwbacks in the shape of Ambassador or Fiat 1100 cars. The car of our dreams, that ideal four wheeler, was nowhere on the horizon. Yet we bought, sold and drove these unwieldy monsters for only these junkyard machines were available in the market place. And there the matter ended. The same principle holds in the political arena as well. It is true we choose our leaders in a highly festive, often carnival like, atmosphere. In spite of the festoons and speeches, posters and ballots, charisma and chicanery, we are...