The ongoing economic crisis in Pakistan – the skyrocketing inflation, the foreign trade deficit, ever-mounting debts coupled with the unstable leadership has been the worst disaster the country has seen, causing untold suffering to millions. The crisis was not just a making of the immediate past. It had deep roots in the nature of leadership that ruled Pakistan and framed its policies and its priorities.
Pakistan – what all went wrong?
At the outset, Muhammad Ali Jinnah instilled rule of law, accountability, determination, integrity, democracy, tolerance, political pluralism and adherence to good governance in the state of Pakistan. Jinnah ensured stability and unity in the state. he could persuade and even pressure regional leaders toward greater mutual accommodation, but after his death, the lack of consensus on the distribution of political power and economic resources often turned controversial. The ruin had begun after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan on October 16, 1951. Then began the era of divisive politics, racism and corruption. Democracy was crushed by the very hand that was supposed to protect it – the military. Pakistan witnessed 32 years of martial law.
Violence had become a main weapon to achieve political ends. The Bangladesh genocide that killed three million innocent lives was a striking example of this. The then president Yahya Khan said, “Kill three million of them, and the rest will eat out of our hands”. Political rivalries were a common place. Several politicians were killed including four heads of state. Pakistan became a pawn in the hands of west. It became addicted to financial and military aid. It helped US in grooming Taliban against Russia. Its repeated defeat in hands of India and constant obsession with Kashmir made Pakistan to invest more and more on military and weapons. They also actively supported terrorist activities against India. As a result of all this, sustainable economic growth and public welfare, human resource development was greatly neglected. One of the prime ministers said in 1970, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own”.
20 million children in Pakistan are out of school and the country ranks 144th on human security index, 154th on human development index and 140th (among 180 countries) on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2022. Corruption was pervasive throughout military and bureaucracy. No leader was an exception. Corruption, nepotism, bad governance, lack of accountability, absence of rule of law, lust for power and political opportunism emerged as a dominant norm. The economy relied on loans and bailouts. It was caught in a vicious cycle of debt. There were ill motives and incompetence both collectively and individually. What all can go wrong has gone wrong in case of Pakistan.
Ills of ill-motives
We are ill-motivated when we are bent upon on destroying others for a selfish cause. A destructive mindset covers our consciousness. Destruction is in mode of ignorance. Mode of ignorance is characterized by illusion and lack of awareness of reality (BG 14.9). We lose track of our own needs and the opportunities for our own growth. Our whole energy and attention gets diverted to destroying something outside of us. Especially, if the motive behind destruction is selfish, the obsession to the results will be high. The frustration resulting from failure also will be high (BG 18.27). If the means employed are also foul, then the anxiety will be tremendous. The anxiety of being exposed will be high. In case of Ravana, he was bent upon destroying Ram that too for a selfish end – for enjoying Sita. Many, from the demon Maricha to his queen Mandodari, advised him against going war with Lord Ram but of no consequence. He was blinded by lust and the thirst for revenge. The result was not only his destruction but destruction of his entire dynasty.
Ravana himself was vicious as well as the kingdom of Lanka as a whole was also vicious. They were against brahmanical culture, perpetuated sin and tried to usurp the position of demigods. As a result, the whole kingdom of Lanka was destroyed. In case of demons like Duryodhana and Vena, the kings were sinful but not the people. Therefore, only the kings were removed and replaced by the right ones.
‘End justify the means’ may work as a short-term success strategy but can never be a long-term and sustainable success strategy. The means we adopt depends on our motives. If our motives are pure and selfless, the means we adopt also will be constructive for both ourselves and others. The means will be just and based on truth. Especially, if one is in a leadership position, the stakes are high. We are responsible not only for ourselves but for others. We need to have the right motive. We need to have good counsel and mentors so that we make good decisions. As a leader, we always need to cross-check our motives behind the goals and the means we adopt for achieving the goals.