The myopic mindset that continues to rule us

How a strategic mind can manage a grave crisis and push a failing state on the road to progress and development requires a leadership which is imbued with innovative qualities and follows a visionary approach

Pakistan is grappling with serious political and economic crises which are getting more and more serious because of a myopic strategic mindset on the part of those who matter

When decision-making reflects confusion and inconsistency to deal with a host of issues — terrorism, political polarisation, economic meltdown, etc — it means there is lack of strategic wisdom, perseverance, foresight, prudence and vision

This myopic mindset is a major problem in Pakistan as regards dealing with issues which degenerate the country’s politics and economy, and those who matter in this country must revisit the price of parochial decision-making which lack strategic dimension based on scientific reasoning

I believe Pakistan is still a feudal and tribal society with meager intellectual, enlightened and educated mindset to find answers to a host of issues plaguing the country

It is the myopic decision-making on the part of the rulers that Pakistan has been a failure as a state

It has undergone four military takeovers and got disintegrated only before reaching the silver jubilee of its existence

The flawed foreign policy decisions taken by the rulers led to the country getting stuck in the quagmire of Afghanistan

Obsessed on the diplomatic front, our rulers failed to prioritise the economy, education and human security

When political parties fail to provide a plausible leadership because of a lack of professional acumen and when bureaucracy and military take advantage of the vacuum created thereby, the outcome is a mediocre mindset which takes decisions on vital national security issues without redeeming consequences

Lack of proper brainstorming without required analytical skills and critical thinking led to the loss of East Pakistan, imposition of martial law in 1958, 1969, 1977 and 1999, the occupation of part of Siachen Glacier by Indian forces in 1984, the horrific blast at Rawalpindi’s Ojhiri camp in April 1988, democratic failure during the 1980s, the economic meltdown, and the Fall of Kashmir following the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act of August 5, 2019 passed by the Indian parliament

In all the aforementioned cases, various regimes that were in power either failed to take prompt decisions or disregarded proper homework based on political wisdom, prudence, and perseverance with statesmanship approach

What went wrong with the decision-making over the years needs to be analysed from three angles

First of all, it is the myopic decision-making on issues of strategic importance carried out by those at the helm of affairs since 1950s

The fragility of political parties prompted the military takeover in 1958

It was the outcome of the myopic thinking of the then army high command, led by its commander in chief General Muhammad Ayub Khan, that they can better govern the country

The military in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and in 1990s had forgotten the fact that governance is not their job

But having tasted power, the generals deviated from their main duty i


the defence of the country’s frontiers and jumped into political matters

Power ambitions of the generals and non-professional behaviour of political parties augmented the myopic decision-making, with the country’s sovereignty, national interest and national security getting compromised

Had this not been the case, Jinnah’s Pakistan wouldn’t have been disintegrated; the country’s wouldn’t have compromised on its sovereignty for monetary benefits by joining the Western alliance system during 1960s; the rulers would not have agreed to let the country act as a frontline state against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or joined the US-led war on terror; and the rulers would have been focusing on socio-economic uplift rather than on combatting terrorism

Every critical decision in foreign and domestic mattes of Pakistan taken by its so-called civilian and military leadership lacked wisdom

When the motive is to seek Western economic and military aid while compromising on sovereignty and national security, no wonder the outcome is a surge in extremism, violence, terrorism, political polarisation and economic crisis

The decision-makers, with their meager crisis management skills, not only committed blunders but also failed to learn from their past failures like the abortive attempts to occupy J&K in 1948, 1965 and 1999 — something that made matters worse for Pakistan

The myopic mindset with which the Operation Gibraltar was launched to liberate J&K led to the outbreak of the 1965 Indo-Pak war

The Kargil misadventure also reflects the myopic mindset of the rulers of those days

Second is the transformation in decision-making after the emergence of Pakistan

At the outset, the Urdu speaking elite who migrated from India in 1947 dominated the official machinery but it was gradually sidelined by the Punjabi-Pathan nexus because of their steady influence in military and bureaucracy

The Bengali resentment against the monopoly of power by the Punjabi-dominated military and bureaucratic elite was shared by smaller provinces of Sindh and Balochistan

This ethnic composition of decision-making, concentrated primarily in Punjab, augmented polarisation in the country

One school of thought believes that till the time Pakistan’s decision-making was under the influence of Urdu-speaking elite, things were better because a sense of ownership, commitment and sacrifice was visible in that community; but when they were marginalised because of the policies of President Ayub Khan and subsequent rulers, corruption and nepotism became the norm

The shifting of the federal capital from Karachi to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad during Ayub Khan’s time reflects the myopic mindset that would run the affairs then

Third, myopic decision-making is also reflected in the mediocre and below mediocre culture in state institutions where reasoning, analytical skills and critical thinking is almost non-existent

Had this not been the case, those controlling the instruments of power would have averted national tragedies or at least held to account those responsible for Pakistan’s disintegration, Kargil fiasco, Operation Gerimino to track down Osama bin Laden, etc

To conclude, there is the need to replace myopic mindset with pragmatic, scientific and rational mode of thinking to transform Pakistan’s culture at the elite and grassroots’ level

There is the need to give priority to education, enlightenment, reasoning, integrity, accountability and wisdom

The culture of rhetoric and mediocre or below mediocre thinking needs to be discourage so that those reaching the helm are mindful of the implications of faulty decisions

The prevailing political and economic crises as well as foreign policy challenges require bold, clear, wise and prudent decisions

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2023

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces

Date:15-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link