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Idealism versus Pragmatism

In matters of State objective idealism always gives way to rank pragmatism. Gen Pervez Musharraf articulated his seven-point agenda within days of taking power, the vision was that of an idealist. In preparing the nation for real democracy, his solution is that of a pragmatist. And by the way there is no duality of personality here, over the past 38 years one has seen it to be in consonance with his character. Between the idealism the President embodies and the pragmatism he has adopted, the fault-line is blurred by the doctrine of necessity. In the hard world of realities and given the adverse circumstances, pragmatism is perhaps the only course that any leader of a beleaguered nation, such as ours could have adopted, not only for the sake of the nation, but being inexorably linked with the reforms he has enacted, for his own continuity. The starkest example was his swift decision in Sep 11, 2001 to abandon decades plus of foreign policy alignment to seek security for the State in a region made suddenly untenable for countries like Pakistan to continue civilized existence. Musharraf’s decision was certainly not popular, it was hugely unpopular among the masses, but in the given environment it was correct, Our heart may have been with the Taliban but it was neither logical nor right, we stepped at just the right time away from an extremism to which our masses have never subscribed to.

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Political Agendas

None of the manifestoes floated by the many political parties in Pakistan contain anything that is radically different from each other. At most priorities differ as does the language spelling them out. Certainly emphasis on many issues may be wide apart, yet ideologically they remain similar. Most agendas are nationalist in nature with “caring” capitalism posing as a soft form of socialism. The two prominent political parties in Pakistan are the PML(N) and the PPP, followed by the regional MQM and ANP, yet a number of other parties have come up to join Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s Tehreek-e-Istiqlal (TI), among them Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) of Imran Khan and former President Farooq Leghari’s Millat Party. A strong minority is formed of a group of religious parties with the Jamaat-e-Islami prominent among them nationally, yet it is the factions of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), along with other religious parties, that are stronger in terms of voting power that translate into seats in certain regions. As we approach the new millennium, we must first define and implement the macro issues that are a must for good governance and structure them to the benefit of the country, setting in place positive micro-management.

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