|Let History Judge|
Imran inherited a bankrupt country, a country looted and plundered by corrupt rulers, a country adrift, lacking confidence about its future. Jinnah’s Pakistan, the country of our dreams, our hopes, and our pride has morphed into a nightmare of despair and despondency.
Imran faces a daunting task. The waters are choppy but he will get through. He is busy cleansing the stains of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir. To quote Churchill, “those were the years that locusts had eaten”. How the corrupt mighty have fallen? Shorn of power, how common and mediocre they look Gone is the arrogance, the insolence and the truculence. Broken and miserable little men, how the twist of Fate could reduce a man to size.
Nations, like history, rarely take account of anything but success. Albert Speer, Hilter’s Architect, told his interrogators at the Nuremberg trial that history sits in judgment on world leaders at the terminal stage, not earlier. Imran is under fire from his political opponents on daily basis. On all sides one hears criticism of Imran. He is undergoing a noticeable slump in his popularity. “Who are the people who raise outcry against me”, questions Imran rhetorically, “corrupt politicians, veritable bloodsuckers, whose ill-gotten wealth, I have made them disgorge”.
What did Prime Minister Churchill, the saviour of Western civilization in World War II, have to show in the first two years? HMS Prince of Wales and the cruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese bombers. HMS Ark Royal and battleship HMS Barham were sunk by Japanese U-Boats. Churchill also lost Singapore, Malaya and Burma. There were vociferous calls for his resignation but when the no-confidence motion against him was put to vote in the parliament, he won by 464 votes to one.
So far, Imran has done much better than what we expected he could. He has made no egregious mistake. Nobody expected him to set the Indus on fire in two years.
I told Imran long ago that he must resist the temptation of participating in election without full mobilization of party workers in all the four provinces, while everything else remains corrupt, feudal and medieval. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto first led a virulent campaign against Ayub Khan and hounded him out before participating in election 70, the first free, fair and impartial election held in Pakistan. It threw up Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as the undisputed leader of West Pakistan.
“People confuse two types of politics”, Imran told the New York Times. “One is politics of movement. The other is traditional power-based politics. Tehreek-e-Insaf is never going to win the traditional way”. He contested the election and won the “traditional way” but with a split mandate. The result is that he needs allies to sustain his government at the Center and in Punjab, the most important province in the Federation of Pakistan. He has to accommodate his coalition partners and make all sorts of compromises.
Today Imran is the only truly national figure in the bleak fragmented, political landscape of Pakistan. In these harsh and difficult political times, the question of Prime Minister’s Character is at the center of our national concerns. If a Prime Minister has integrity and his hands are clean, nothing else matters. But if he has no integrity and his hands are dirty, nothing else matters and he cannot govern the country. Integrity is Imran’s strong point. It will enable him to ride out the challenges he faces. He still has the support of the people, especially the youth of Pakistan. In a Presidential election Imran will win hands down. One cannot help but recognize Imran’s Destiny: The hand of the Providence which has marked him out a long time ago for the fulfillment of its prodigious designs.
The idea that you just hold elections, while everything else remains colonial and feudal means you won’t get democracy but some perversion of it as we have today in this country. Elections are necessary but not sufficient. Elections alone do not make a democracy. Democracy requires a free and independent country, an inviolable constitution, a powerful and competent legislature, answerable to the electorate, an independent judiciary, an independent Press, and above all a literate citizenry. To assume that vote alone will automatically bring about a democratic metamorphosis, would be to condemn Pakistan to a repeat of the cycle seen so often in our country: a short period of civilian rule, a descent into chaos followed by army rule.
Churchill wrote of Prime Ministers, “If he trips, he must be sustained. If he makes a mistake, they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good, he must be pole-axed”. But this last extreme process cannot be carried out every day. It must be carried out at the terminal stage.
Imran’s demeanor is soothing but at times impermeable. He is shy and does not cherish the parry and thrust of politics. He is the Prime Minster through and through. Behind the scenes, he is exactly what he is in public. He can hold his own in any forum anywhere in the world. He has an august presence, is not overawed by Royalty or foreign Presidents or Prime Ministers. When he enters a room, people sit up and take notice. Imran must translate his glamour into political results.
Imran is the only leader with unique qualifications: tremendous self-confidence, passion, above all courage to confront and master our severe economic predicament. He has the capacity and will to usher in a new social-economic, just order. He is the only leaders who will as Burke said, “tell the people, not where they want to go, but where they ought to go”.
One thing Imran must do is to improve the quality of governance, especially in the provinces. He must not hire “yes men” who don’t tell him the truth. He must carry out radical agrarian reforms, in particular, he must liberate the haris of Sind, who are like the serfs of Europe in medieval times. No country in the world has made any progress without radical agrarian reforms.
He must keep down expenses and take as little as possible from the poor man so that he won’t starve or revolt. Louise XVI was brought down by a corrupt vicious Tax system. Unless Imran reforms the tax system, a French Revolution will come to Pakistan. And last but not least, he must descend from Bani Gala and connect with ordinary people.
If all goes well, Imran will go down in history as the savior of Pakistan. He rescued Pakistan from the Sharifs and Zardaris who looted and plundered this poor country. He is the only leader who can revive Jinnah’s Pakistan, a visionary, inspired by the Islamic Caliphate of Medina.
Today Imran alone carries the hope of the nation on his shoulders. His idealism, self-discipline and zero tolerance of mega corruption contrasts sharply with the decadence, cynicism and mega corruption of his opponents. In the event of Imran’s failure, a political and social revolution in its most extreme form is inevitable in Pakistan.
We gave decades to the corrupt rulers to loot and plunder this poor country. Imran is facing a gargantuan task of putting this country back on the rails. Bear with him. Give him more time. It’s too early to judge him. The jury is still out. Let history judge.