Dearth of leadership-By Muhammad Kamran Rifat


A statesman is usually a politician or other notable figure of a state who has had a long and respected career in politics at the national and international level. When politicians retire, they are often referred to as elder statesmen. This may be true for many countries around the world but this happens rather rarely in our country. The statesmanship also conveys a quality of leadership that organically brings people together and of eldership, a spirit of caring for others. The words ‘statesman’ or ‘stateswoman’ are applied loosely to any head of state, any senior political figure, or anyone who in a given moment exhibits a certain quality of ‘statesmanship’.

The traits that a true leader should possess have been debated over the time, and most people agree that these are the five key traits i.e. vision, passion, decision-making, team builder and character. You must have a vision. We have all heard the saying: “You must stand for something, or you will fall for everything.” But what does that really mean? Standing firm when it comes to your company’s policies and procedures is all well and good, but it does not speak to having a vision. As a leader, you have to learn to communicate your vision to the people whom you want to follow you. You must have passion, you have to show your team that you want to accomplish the goal as badly as they do, and your passion will drive them. You must learn to be a great decision-maker. Sometimes, leaders must face times of pressure where they are forced to make quick decisions; a great leader must have this skill. You must be a team builder. To become a great leader, you must first make your team great, you must have the power to give your team responsibilities, and trust them too, and you must slowly make them greater and greater. You must have character. Without character all other ‘keys’ are for naught. That is because your innate character strengths and limitations play a critical role in your leadership style. The real question is that are you aware of just what role they play? All great leaders have taken steps to learn about their individual personality and what part it plays in their leadership style.

Here in Pakistan we do not have leaders who possess all the five key traits, there is always something missing in them. The cruel part of the story is that we just have a few of them, countable really. The recent ground-building for the impeachment of President Musharraf concerns me much. I am least bothered about he being removed but the major worry is that who will take the crucial seat in place of him. Even with the very little knowledge I do not see a person whom we can say is a statesman. We need a president, who for once should have the vision, passion, decision-making skill is a team builder and above all should have character.

We all must understand that there will hardly be a change after the impeachment of the president because we do not have a person who is handpicked by the general public and also who has got the most key leadership trait character, it is sad but unfortunately it is a reality. The reason I am saying so is that the successor will have to carry forward the responsibilities left incomplete by President Musharraf because he has put Pakistan in such a position that there is hardly a chance of saying no to those sitting thousands miles away in Washington DC. There is just one mission our politicians have and it is to get into the power and stay in power as long as possible by hook or by crook. What if they do not have the character, vision or the decision-making skill as long as they are ruling nothing else but their being in supremacy matters the most.

Pakistan is facing difficult times once again as a result of war on terror, security concerns, inflation and political turmoil. Whom should we blame for the situation we are facing these days? Should we hold responsible the establishment, bureaucracy, army, politicians or America? It is easy to put the responsibility on any of them but for once we need to realise that what ails our country is nothing but a lack of committed leadership and jagirdari, waderaism. In 61 years of Pakistan’s existence we just had once statesman Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of the Nation, after him we either had military dictators or feudal lords but no leadership. How regrettable it is that we have not been able to produce or nurture a leader in six decades.

When a political leader will climb the ladder as a result of people’s mandate only then our problems will be solved and Pakistan will prosper to the abilities of its people. What we see around us is that our so-called leaders come forward after getting a ‘blessing’ (Asheerbaad) from Washington DC or establishment and almost all of them comes from feudal families. After coming on to the scene they seek the consent of the people but not before decisions have already been made. So how can people coming from such channels solve our problems when they never faced or witnessed them? To understand a certain problem you have to get to the bottom of it but they hardly make an effort, at least it seems this way.

For all these years we just have a few families ruling the country one after the other but no one has really come forward with the middle class upbringing and from the general public. If people can choose they can also make someone a leader but unless a chance is given nothing can happen. They have to surpass the hurdles of the establishment, army, police and America and if they cannot do so they simply fail. It is really sad that Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December last year, made a return to the Greenland after getting permission from Washington and Nawaz Sharif came back after the intervention from Saudi Arabia. They do have the support of the people but why they were required to look towards the opposite direction? Instead of mobilising people they reaffirmed that they are not the leaders.

Since 1988 we just have two parties which have ruled and it is the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) with other small parties joining them. Other than the PPP and PML-N we have PML(Q), JUI-F, JI, ANP, MQM, PTI and horde of others. The one common factor about them is that all of these parties are just one man show and they have no credible successor to them down the line. The PPP does not have anyone who can fill the vacuum created by the death of Benazir Bhutto, the PML-N is nothing without Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, the JUI-F is nothing without Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Qazi Hussain Ahmed is the identity of the JI, the MQM do not have any other leader as a replacement of Altaf Hussain; so far and so forth.

So the fact is that all creams of the crop have failed to build a team and a successor of the party. The reality is that they do not want to share power and instead want to remain in the limelight without considering that what will happen to the party after them and what will be consequences of their acts on the nation at large. We have already suffered a lot due to the lack of leadership but it is just about time, though it is already too late that we as Pakistanis, instead of looking out for a messiah, who can understand our issues and resolve them, come forward and be messiah for yourselves and for our beloved homeland. We certainly lack leadership but possess determination, will, hope and the passion to groom a leader, who will be visionary, sincere, committed and dedicated in times to come.

Source: The Post, 14/8/2008

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