Delivering new with the help of old

Old habits

Farid A Malik |

‘Old habits die hard’ is an age old saying. Adult changes are almost impossible as it involves a lot of unlearning. If Kaptaan is able to deliver new trends with the help of the old it will be a major breakthrough and the first known case in human history. That is why revolutions happen to overcome the inertia.

In the 20th century, three of them took place (Bolshevik, Chinese, Iranian) together with two world wars. Now we are in the 18th year of the 21st century unless major changes take place another major upheaval is around the corner. The situation is ripe for another revolution.

Iqbal used the term “Tarz-e-Kohan” (old ways), giving them up is not as easy as individual interests come in the way. Unfortunately, in the last forty years (1977 – 2017) non-performers have risen to important positions; for them to transform and then perform is not possible. The inertia is overwhelming; no one dares to risk performance as it exposes their weaknesses.

Read more: Creative economic policy

The colonial bureaucratic set up that we inherited was never designed to serve; now it has been overrun with mediocrity rendering it non-functional. It is in a state of free fall. Negotiate, pay and get the job done, complaints are ineffective and usually raise the bar for the pay-out.

As a party of change, PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) was well prepared. In 2009 a Shadow Cabinet was also announced. Four think tanks (Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, and Overseas) were tasked to formulate policies for most vital sectors. First 100 days plan was prepared after several deliberations. Till the Lahore gathering of October 2011, the party remained on track to deliver change.

Then came the wave of ‘electables’ either themselves or were sent it is difficult to analyse. By the second show of political strength at Mazar-e-Quaid on Dec 25, 2011, there was a major change of faces and direction. Comrade Ahsan Rashid had arranged a lavish dinner for the leaders where the old and the new guard shared bread. It proved to be the proverbial ‘Last Supper.’

Read more: Prime Minister Elect or Prime Minister Select?

Kaptaan insisted on Inter-Party Elections (IPEs) in order to democratically resolve the internal rivalries but it was not to be. For electables, winning the election is all that counts. The same old tricks of manipulation were tried in the IPE in 2012 which resulted in a serious reaction from the rank and file of the party.

Even founder members like Comrade Ahsan Rashid were not spared. An election tribunal under Justice Waji-ud-din was formed to dispense justice. True to his reputation Waji Sahib penalised the violators but instead, he had to leave the party himself, they stayed and kept their positions till the Supreme Court disqualified them.

After the election loss of 2013, winning the electoral process became the focus of the movement every other effort and structure was dismantled. The Shadow Cabinet, Think Tanks, first 100 days plan were all set side with a focus on one point agenda, ‘coming into power’. Now the party is in the corridors of authority.

Both the Prime Minister (PM) and the President understand the need for change, but they are surrounded by the players of status-quo. Recently a list of cabinet members of Musharraf and Kaptaan is being circulated; a similar exercise was done for the PML-N regime. Surprisingly several names are common in all the cabinets.

Read more: The incredible story of Imran Khan

In the words of Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. He is considered to be the most influential physicist of the 20th century, I am sure he knew what he was talking about. Those who create problems and those who resolve them are totally a different breed of people. Kaptaan will soon realise this historic fact and hopefully correct his course.

The mess that country is in today requires out of box solutions which is beyond the realm of ordinary 9 am – 5 pm individuals who show up to work at a fixed time and then leave with the buzzer. My father who was a worker of the Pakistan movement worked for 14 to 18 hours all his life.

Even on his deathbed with a failing heart he worked 8 to 20 hours, it was not for money alone, impact and legacy was more important. Bhutto worked late hours. As student leaders, we were called for meetings with the Minister of Education at 4 pm but the meeting took place in the morning at 4 am.

The ministry was kept open for late hours together with the personal staff. The elected government of Bhutto delivered change. One may not agree with his policies but he was able to shatter the status-quo. In over seven decades there have been only two real cabinets one formed by Quaid-e-Azam in 1947 and the other by Quaid-e-Awam in 1973.

Now Kaptaan is in the driver’s seat. He is trying to achieve the unachievable mainly because of the old and routine players that surround him. In the world of test cricket, Hanif Muhammad battled for days to save the match. In limited overs, every ball counts as the run rate is equally important.

Read more: The problem with democracy in Pakistan – Farid A Malik

Kaptaan has played both formats of the game except T-20 which he never did and professionally does not hold it in high esteem either. The comparison is therefore between test and one-day matches. He is remembered as an attacking Kaptaan who never gave in and fought till the last ball.

His attack against corruption is commendable but governance has been weak. It clearly shows a lack of homework and focus on details. That is why? He has to rely on experience. In the words of Donald Trump, “No experience is better than bad experience” – this abounds around him.

Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in The Nation and has been republished here with the author’s permission.