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Archive for December, 1997

Decision-making and leadership

The evolution of successful leadership fails mainly at the altar of integrity, one can only expect loyalty from one’s colleagues and subordinates if they either come to believe or to accept that you are in turn loyal to them. The barometer that must be is the perception of consensus, a mutual commitment being the crux of the integrity in the decision-making process that is the hallmark of successful leaders from the lowest rung right up the measuring scale. At any level of governance it is the confidence of the people in the depth of their leader’s commitment in reciprocity that marks the difference between success and failure. The people must believe that the leaders will make decisions that are in keeping with their wishes and in their best interests. Even when personal integrity is unquestionable, the public becomes generally cynical about the overwhelming influence that outside forces exercise on their leader’s decision-making powers. In practical terms very few leaders are resilient enough to ward off special interests, they can almost never put their personal ambitions and interest subservient to the extraneous interests of the nation.

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The City-State of Lahore

Whose of us in the media who have been rooting for Mian Nawaz Sharif since his first dismissal as PM in 1993 are guilty of helping the PML talk their way out of self-created controversies, turning a blind eye towards Mian Nawaz Sharif’s very deliberate extreme rightward shift towards fundamentalism which is at great variance with his moderate label and rhetoric that forms the mainstream of Islam. We have also propagated from various media pulpits that the PM holds the national interest supreme, even at his personal cost, whereas the bitter truth may well be that he stays well within the parameters of a rather myopic annunciation of democracy, of the Lahorites, by the Lahorites and for the Lahorites. For President, the PM has opted for “a clean, God fearing Muslim” to be what is very clearly an “instrument of convenience”. It is quite possible that the PM did not know of the Tarar connection to the “Ahrar” Party, opposed both to the concept of Pakistan and the Quaid-e-Azam. Possibly that is why ANP chose to be his proposer since Ahrar was allied to Congress pre-partition. The PM is now being forced to defend him instead of basking in praise at his choice, after all what does Justice Rafiq Tarar bring to the Presidency except a known loyalty to the Sharifs (particularly the eldest Sharif), a keen legal mind and an enhanced fundamentalist bent, again in keeping with the rather extreme views of the Sharif family patriarch? Not many people know that in the competition for 10 Sessions Judges, Rafiq Tarar was eleventh but that he was accommodated anyway, so much for alleged competency. The method of selection left much to be desired, almost the entire Federal Cabinet knew nothing of this darkest of dark horses till he was presented before them as a fait accompli less than 15 hours before the filing of nomination papers closed. And we call this sham a democracy? A very wrong message has been sent out to the entire country as well as to the rest of Punjab, the world beyond Model Town extends only to the other end of the Motorway, in Islamabad. Very much like Rome, Athens and Carthage, Lahore is the centre of this universe and damn the consequences to the Federation as long as the city’s inhabitants thrive and prosper. As a city-state, Lahore rules over several disparate and ethnically distinct provinces (since Governors are appointed by the Federation, should we call them Satraps?)

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The Making of the President

One does not have to be clairvoyant to predict that barring a major upheaval, natural of man-made, the next President will either be a PML person or a PML nominee from one of the smaller provinces. Less than two days before the filing of nominations, the PML leadership has yet to declare the candidacy of what should have been a certainty in the minds of the PML hierarchy, given their happy position as regards the game of numbers. Being a democratic party heading a “rainbow” coalition of smaller, regional parties, one assumes the PML hierarchy is leaning over backwards to ensure that their partners do not feel left out of the decision-making process, articulating their preferences and given suitable advice as to who would make a good President. The concept of a Federation requires that the smaller provinces must play an active part in the coalescing of consensus, democracy enjoins that the voices of all the constituent units be heard and taken into account.

PML has no party leader from Balochistan for the Presidency, the only person having some credibility being Zafarullah Khan Jamali but till very lately he has not shown any great political consistency with the mainstream PML. Balochistan at least finds representation through the Deputy Chairman of the Senate and Sindh has the National Assembly (NA) Speaker’s Sarhad has nothing. Therefore, the province having the greatest claim for representation among the ruling hierarchy is Sarhad. There is a lobby that feel that the post of Speaker NA is not enough for the Sindhis and that to assuage Sindh’s qualms there should be a President from Sindh and that in return Sindh should leave the NA post for Sarhad. The factors thus taken into account in the making of the President are, viz (1) whether the potential candidate to be supported be from Sarhad or Sindh? (2) whether a credible PML nominee is available from Sarhad? And if so (3) whether it makes sense to move the NA Speaker to the Presidency and find a suitable NA Speaker from Sarhad?

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The “Polish Incident”

The outrage perpetrated at the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday Nov 28, 1997 was an incident waiting to happen. For the past several weeks, tension had been mounting in the country as the government and the Supreme Court made moves and counter-moves. When the PM made an unprecedented appearance in person before the Chief Justice (CJ) in the Contempt of Court case and expressed his regrets, the normal course of events would have found a solution in his “honourable pardon”. With the framing of the charge-sheet, the only defence left to the PM for survival was the authority of the Parliament. This was readily given the form of an Amendment which gave the right of at least one appeal, assent to which was very deliberately delayed by the President. Agreed that the Amendment was flawed in some respects, if there was good faith in the Presidency the relevant clauses could have been immediately indicated for Parliament to correct and re-send to the Presidency. In the normal course a 30-day period is OK, but when the constitutional tensions were this high, was it responsible of him to do the abstinence act and sit over the issue? In fact, President Leghari has now come out, holier-than-thou, and made a vehement attack on the government in the form of a very intemperate letter to the PM. What the nation suspected for 30 days, and a lot of people knew much before that, has now been confirmed as a fact, the President has not only been a part of the conspiracy to destabilise the Nawaz Sharif Government, he has been the main perpetrator of the crisis that has brought the country to its knees. Without this behind-the-scenes manipulations, it is most unlikely that matters would have reached the stage it did, culminating in the outrage at the SC premises on Nov 28, 1997. In the “Polish incident” some innocent Germans were deliberately killed by Germans in the last week of August 1939 to make it look like the work of Polish Border Guards. This “incident” was then used by the Germany to invade Poland “to protect Germans”, thus started World War II as France and UK declared war as they had promised to do if Germany invaded Poland. Counting on the bully-boy tactics of the militant faction of the PML to rear its ugly head sooner than later, the President waited till the very condemnable and shameful fascist-type raid on the SC Building before shedding crocodile tears about “the dismal failure of your (sic Nawaz’s) administration than that provided by the shameful events of the last two days, “unquote. While the PML must certainly answer for this fascist-type incident, the President cannot be absolved of his responsibility. This was an outrage carefully choreographed, as much as a mouse is lured by cheese as bait into a trap, to show PML up to be monsters, to provide the “casus belli” for the demise of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s government. While deliberating (or dawdling) over a host of PML’s advice and Parliamentary missives for three weeks, the President came out of his hole in the Presidency like a shot once the CJ sent him his letter requesting for security from the Army and for Justice Siddiqui’s head.

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