Friday, December 11, 2009

Indian and Pakistani Leadership - a Contrast

November 26, 2009
Indian and Pakistani Leadership - a Contrast
By Saeed Qureshi
Look at the momentous ovation and pageant welcome given in honor of the Indian minister Manmohan Singh on his official visit to the United States. It was for the first time even for President Barack Obama to capture the rare chance of learning the art of throwing a lavish state banquet to a foreign dignatory. I am from Pakistan but I am proud that there is a leader from the Sub-continent who has been accorded such an enormous reverence and magnificent hospitality.
Prime Minister Singh is an embodiment of humility and perhaps timidity but strong on virtues and principles. He is tiny and fragile in physique but a giant in character and conduct. His thumping welcome is not to Manmohan the individual, but to the towering prime minister of a country that has demonstrated itself as a shining model and praiseworthy example of a truly democratic dispensation in the third world.
Since her birth, India is steadfastly embarked upon the democratic course thanks to the vision of its forefathers as well as the sagacity, patriotism dedication and self denial of its subsequent leadership. India presents the spectacle of a green oasis in the wilderness of third world countries that are plagued by self serving authoritarian outfits: military, monarchical or sham democracies. In India not for one day was the martial law imposed, save the emergency clamped by late Indira Gandhi for which she had to pay a heavy price in losing the elections in 1977.
It all boils down to a leadership committed to uphold the banner of national dignity and glory. India has been rapidly marching towards a well chosen goal of joining the rank of developed countries. Indian economic advancement has been remarkable and rather spell-binding. For a country of over a billion teeming population, India is not only self sufficient in food and feeding all of them but amazingly exporting agricultural produce to other countries including the neighboring Pakistan. India is vying with the technologically developed countries in innovations and breath- taking research in all fields of knowledge. Its computer technology is fast approaching a level where it would be able to compete with China, Japan and other advanced countries.
The glittering hallmark of Indian democratic federation is its unity and national cohesion despite countless castes, denominations, races and regions. This is the boon of democracy that keeps open the venues for freedom of expression and the decision making in accordance with the feelings and aspirations of the people. Indian leadership considers itself not as a master but the servant of its people. No doubt, the United States and the entire West bristles with abiding democratic culture yet India with the largest democracy, by virtue of its population, has a definite edge and lead over all democracies. The other democracies are well entrenched because they have been on a democratic course for centuries. Yet India deserves laurels for being so new and so well established a democracy.
Pakistan, my country, a counterpart of India in attaining freedom from the British colonial rule in 1947, remained under the military yoke for almost half of its emergence as a state. The political anarchy engulfing Pakistan since beginning is the dirty work of Pakistani politicians that not only lack vision and foresight but a genuine inclination to sow and nurture the democratic culture. A nascent country had fallen prey to the loathsome machinations of the civil and military bureaucracy at the very start of a national journey. If it was God’s will to impose a degenerate governor general Ghulam Muhammad on an Islamic state then why do we pray day in and day out for the salvation of Pakistan and its people. God never did that because he does not soil his hands in human poltical affairs.
The poltical thugs, instead of nation and institution building, frittered away their energies on power grabbing and mutual browbeating. Horribly, the foul feudal system is still intact in Pakistan while it was buried in India immediately after the independence. The sanctity of the constitution and its true applicability is still a subject of controversy in Pakistan. The constitution was put in place in India in January 1950.
Pakistan’s constitutional voyage and the functioning of democracy have been on a bandwagon running on bumpy and rough terrain. Even the duly elected leaders fell to the temptation of acting as powerful autocrats. The short spells of democratic dispensations degenerated into feuds between the parties in power and those in opposition. A healthy tradition of promoting democratic values by dissent was seldom practiced. That poltical bellicosity or anarchy would consequently pave way for the military to step in, with the contending politicians supporting or opposing the army rule.
The separation of East Pakistan, a horrific catastrophe or national tragedy was brought about by a combine of unwise politicians and the adventurous army generals. And woefully, no lessons were learnt after the truncation of Pakistan. Democracy, national unity and development remain a far cry to this day.
I shudder to compare Asif Zardari with either the president of India or the prime minister. In Indian parliamentary democracy, the president is a figurehead; in Pakistan, while the president is like a dictator, the prime minister is a lame duck protégé of the president. President Zardari is armed with powers of Saddam Hussain of Iraq, Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia or North Korea’s Kim Jong Ill and to a lesser degree of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. And still he has the temerity to claim that he has taken revenge of Benazir Bhutto’s murder by democratizing Pakistan. If this is democracy what could be authoritarianism.
In Indian democracy the powers vest with the prime minster, in Pakistan these are with the president. So the comparison should be between the president of Pakistan and the prime minister of India. But in all fairness it should be a contrast and not a comparison. While the president of Pakistan is notorious for insatiate lust of money and repository of heaps of ill-gotten wealth stashed abroad, Manmohan has no such nefarious laurels. Zardari represents no one. He jumped into the bandwagon of power because of the murder of his wife. Manmohan spent his life time in serving his people with matchless selflessness.
Pakistan is steeped into an aggravating mire of lawlessness and a malignant socio- economic and civic mess. It’s a favorite target for the brazen exploitation of national wealth by a shameless coalition of hardened robbers in the garb of leaders. Even a mediocre leadership would have been a solace to the repeatedly bludgeoned and swindled people of Pakistan. But here is a kind of coterie that abhors decency and fair-play. There is an encompassing sway of all problems, one can think of, bedeviling the lives of the citizens of Pakistan. A rudderless ship being steered and carried away by the Caribbean pirates is what Pakistan looks like today. On the other side of the isle, the opposition is too atrophied. There is no leader with courage or conviction or clean slate that can inspire people with an alternative yet viable way-out of this lingering and deepening quagmire.
Accountability is an anathema to the ruling and the elitist classes. It is either covered under the dirty rug of such abominable laws as NRO or manipulated in favor of the already overly privileged and powerful sections of society. Religious zealots, the corporate thugs and the dehumanizing institions of feudalism, tribalism, and local lords mock the state sovereignty by posing as a state within the state. And on top of this entire abyss, Pakistan is treated to be a mercenary country, a hireling to accomplish the dirty jobs for a price.
Leaders like Musharraf are on record of claiming money for picking up its own citizens to be tried and sentenced abroad. Pakistan has nuclear bomb but merely bombs cannot fill the empty bellies of the people dying of hunger and starvation and impoverishment and sub human conditions. Religion ought to be protected but poor and debilitated nations cannot even protect their faith: example Muslims of Spain.
I shall not proceed further to portray this contrast lest I run the risk of being dubbed as an outcast and a renegade because such decrees are thrown by hypocritical clowns, at dissident patriots at the drop of the hat. But I strongly feel that there is no harm in saying truth and exposing the parasites and the robber barons, the exploiters and all those who mutilated Pakistan and are still doing it. Pakistan is in a trauma and needs urgent resuscitation. Who will do this emergency treatment can be anybody’s guess.

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