Imprisonment and Political Benchmarks in Pakistan

When imprisonment becomes a bench mark for politicians to brag about their statesmanship, that society is far dangerous then we may think….

By Rafiq Jan

I felt dejected when one of Pakistan’s eminent current affairs analyst ranted in favor of the jailed daughter of the convicted ex-prime minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. His analysis felt nothing less than a slap on the face of political morals, when he boasted about Maryam’s emergence as an even stronger and visionary leader following her incarceration. He spoke at lengths about the learning, in general, from the cauldron of imprisonment for such elite and white-collar criminals. A discourse that alludes only to the abjection the nation is beset with.

We never had leaders in Pakistan in last four decades. We produced demagogues and then aptly ‘copy-pasted’ them into the political arena. But ironically, a nation so keen and canny in faking products and characters failed to copy few of the great values from world’s authentic and seminal leaders have.

Ask the academics of sixties and seventies and they all will pensively agree that seminal leadership production ended after 1960s. Institutions were churning out leaders (though much less in numbers compared to now) who were ready to go out and serve the society and the corporate world.

There were authentic leaders even had no formal education but possessed a deep personal humility and wisdom to achieve what many thought was impossible. I never heard a sensible politician ever boasting of their imprisonment as a heroic act and attributing their great vision and achievements to the learning from the jailed period.

If putting a person behind bar makes them a visionary leader, then let all the prestigious institutions like Harvard, MIT, Yale, oxford and Cambridge redesign their curriculum to include imprisonment for future leaders.

In Pakistan, politicians emerge like mushrooms after the rain. But contrary to the mushroom’s existence, they not only survive but multiply. It’s the pedigree which determines a person’s character in whatever walk of life he or she is in. Someone rightly said that, “It’s not your aptitude, but it’s your attitude that determines your altitude”

Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on racial grounds for advocating for the rights of the people of color. He rather deplored those precious years of his life taken away from him which he could utilize in achievement of his great cause by following his vision. He still came out stronger to see his day of dreams and was honored as South Africa’s president. He never felt inflated over his 25 years of confinement.

There is no precedence in the world where politicians proudly woo the public support by cashing in on their jail terms. The civilized societies have no place in public offices for people with criminal backgrounds and indicted politicians regardless of their nature of crime. We need to grow and rise beyond our false prejudices for winning the public support and sympathies. Elected candidates are responsible for country’s legislative and parliamentary affairs, which are highly valuable and sacred assets of any proud nation. It is deplorable to see our politicians, who have been at the helm of power for multiple terms, talk about their criminal and heinous past as an ornament.

Then, why not suggest to the government of Pakistan to amend our educational syllabus to include the compulsory jail term in all the higher education degrees.

Pakistan is in a dire need of noble leadership. We have wasted nearly four decades of our precious time following someone else’s agenda in governing our country. Believing that this was the only country liberated on ideological grounds. We were trapped in the illusions shown by opportunist and stooges in power. Decades of corruption and mismanagement pulled the nation away from the course envisaged by our forefathers.

The political system, in place, has never served the national interest. There is a dire need to change the framework of our political system. This seems a far cry from our point of view but given the situation in Pakistan’s case, this drastic change will create wonders if driven by all the patriotic-minded people at all levels. This seems to be a tough call but can help cleanse the mess of our society and correct the submissive attitude of people.

Emulating something, which is useful for us and doesn’t cost others to lose anything, is worth trying. Copying other’s fashion trends, delectable foods recipes, and breathtaking architectures, or rather shamefully the accent of others isn’t a pride for the nations. Emulating some great values and habits of others is what makes humans great and a worthwhile endeavor too.

The day our Pakistani nation overcomes the stupor of subjugation and subservience and rise to the call of their inner voices of conscience, one can hope the dreams of Allama Iqbal and the passion of Jinnah will prevail.

RafiqThe writer is based in Doha, Qatar.


Disclaimer: Views expressed here are that of the author’s and do not reflect or represent the policy or views of the CRSS. CRSS Blog is an open platform inviting views from all sections of the society.

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