ALLAH says that He will not change the condition of a nation as long as the nation does not change itself (13:11).
Change according to the times is fundamental for improvement. Everything changes in the physical world but change in national politics needs to be made in a planned manner.
This should be done under the elected leadership that possesses authority as a sacred trust from Almighty Allah — the Possessor of kingdom (3:26). Political authority necessitates that the leadership works hard day in and day out in the service of the people. A leader should always think ahead optimistically and his positive attitude should be evident from his actions.
Further, a politician has to behave with restraint and avoid abuse of power. He uses authority within the parameters of the law and takes upon himself the country’s concerns and hardships.
He remains impersonal in the discharge of his duties and imperturbable in front of critics. He respects popular will but never goes beyond the mandate.
Unfortunately, Pakistan has not been able to get such leadership. Our political environment has remained chaotic most of the time. The reason is the incompetence and self-serving nature of some politicians.
It is evident from historical record that Pakistan has suffered hugely because of inefficient politicians who preferred power over service to the nation. We had to wait for over 25 years after independence to get a unanimous, permanent Constitution.
All political persons must agree to be ethical.
We suffered defeat in 1971 and lost half of the country as our leaders were not able to solve the problems of their time. We fought multiple wars internally and externally but achieved nothing.
We faced internal strife and crises but got military rule for a long period of our history. We saw natural calamities like floods, heatwaves and earthquakes but learnt nothing of how to cope with these disasters.
In today’s Pakistan also, we face multiple challenges including a shattered economy, terrorism and the impact of ecological disasters, which need the attention of all politicians. But their day-to-day wrangling over petty issues has deeply affected and divided society.
A modern state cannot be governed or legislated by outdated feudal mindset having no background in science, technology and social sciences. If the present leadership ignores these issues, history will not remember them kindly. Therefore, they must sit and chalk out an actionable strategy to solve these burning issues.
The Quaid has given us the golden principles of unity, faith and discipline. These should be the guiding principles in the thinking of all politicians and they should be uncompromising when these principles are questioned. They should feel pain at the plight of fellow citizens and never sleep peacefully when a calamity hits the country and the people are under duress.
Though Pakistan is brimming with ambitious political leaders, with a few exceptions, nobody displays the traits of able and upright leadership. In fact, many political leaders appear to be severely lacking in some of the essential qualities of a good leader like statesmanship.
It’s no coincidence that the word ‘politician’ has many negative connotations. But experience tells us that there are only a handful that have anything close to the principles and values of true leadership.
Keeping in view these key challenges at the national level, it is essential that we redefine the qualifications — including educational, personal and professional — and seek formal verification on matters relating to tax payment, wealth, criminal record, etc, before one is allowed to enter active politics.
Only those possessing a clean character should be encouraged to enter active politics. They should have a vision of turning Pakistan into a welfare state. This will help Pakistan stabilise its governance, root out inefficiency in public institutions, rid underperformance and come out of its deep malaise.
All political persons must agree to be ethical. Their actions should match their public utterances. They should promise only what is achievable and not show a rosy picture to the masses during election campaigns. Their focus should be on strengthening Pakistan amidst the comity of nations, solving the problems of people rather than pulling down opponents.
They are duty-bound to show common people how to become law-abiding citizens. They should avoid unfair means to win elections, allow people to cast their votes freely and thereafter respect the results of the elections. During election campaigns they should refrain from blame games, the use of filthy language and false accusations. They should agree on not using their influence in the day-to-day operations of national institutions.
In a nutshell, politicians need to be role models for the people of the country.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2022