Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

The most destructive of Pakistan’s leaders
AUG 21, 2009 08:48 EDT


If India is agonising over a book that seeks to demolish the conventional view that Muslim leaders forced the division of the subcontinent in 1947, across the border some Pakistanis are attempting a bit of introspection too. The popular All Things Pakistan blog is running a poll this week asking readers a single question: which leader did the most harm to the country in the past 60 years, not counting the current administration which came into office only this year after elections in February.

It’s a small poll by the very nature of the medium, confined to people who visit the blog and so not very representative or even very professional by the standards of surveys. But it offers a fleeting glimpse of a nation wrestling with multiple challenges. Even the question itself tells you something about the prevailing mood. Quick results : General Zia-ul-Haq, the military dictator who turned Pakistan into a frontline state against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, comes out as the leader who’s done the most damage to the country with 42 percent of those polled picking him. Does that reflect a belief that Zia’s self-declared Islamicisation policies created a “culture of jihad” within Pakistan which threatens to consume it now ? General Pervez Musharraf is the leader next seen to have inflicted the most damage, with 21 percent choosing him, followed by Field Marshal Ayub Khan at 12 percent. Slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto comes out on top with only 5 percent saying she had the hurt the country, even better than her father and also former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto, with 10 percent blaming him most for the country’s ills.

A month ago, All Things Pakistan conducted another poll, this time asking readers : Who did the most good?. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto topped that poll with 36 percent support followed by Musharraf at 23 percent. It may not be as contradictory as it seems , it probably points to the strong feelings that Musharraf evokes on either side of the debate. {Photographs of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and portraits of General Zia-ul-Haq] 21 COMMENTS SO FAR | Comments RSS Aug 21, 2009 9:21 am EDT
Can we just get this blog over and done with and give each of them an equal share of the blame. What exactly was Benazir Bhutto’s tangible, contribution to Pakistan? I remember her father stated the racist comment to the East Pakistanis, “Udhr tum, ider hum.” Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Aug 21, 2009 12:01 pm EDT
Although, it is somewhat heartening to see Pakistanis do some much needed introspection, I wonder what would be the results of the poll, if it included international leaders like Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Reagan, Nixon, Mujibur Rehman, Brezhnev etc. If Zia ul Haq or another Pakistani leader is leading in such a poll, that would indeed be an encouraging sign for Pakistan as it would mean that Pakistanis are finally ready to take responsibility for their actions & deeds. Anyways, going back to this poll, Zia ul Haq certainly deserves the top honors as he is mainly responsible for the transformation of Pakistan, from a largely moderate & progressive country that it used to be to the current radicalized, regressive & failed state, that it has become. Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

Aug 21, 2009 12:46 pm EDT
Sanjeev, All of Pakistan’s leaders some things in common. They all LIE, steal, cheat, promoted institutionalized hatred of India, religious supremacy over others, hatred of the west and Israel. Any tool of national unity used by Pakistan’s leaders, always had attached to it, negative, retrograde hateful connotations, with a religious overtone. Pakistan will NEVER have leaders which are capable of managing Pakistan as a proper functioning democracy, which enables all types of peoples and minorities to achieve their potential as equal productive human beings with a human moral core. This perhaps a greater symptom of Pakistani society itself. Most people may disagree here but, he is not a perfect person, but I think that Mr. Zardari or his young Bilawal Bhutto has the potential to be the best Pakistani leader, if the Pak Army steps down and gives him entire power of Pakistan, as commander in

Chief of Pakistan. The President of a country, should be the commander in chief of the armed forces of that country. Till now the best leader that Pakistan has had is Imran Khan, leader of Cricket. Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Aug 21, 2009 3:48 pm EDT
What is this ? Scalping topics from another blog ? Tsk tsk. Posted by Aamir Ali | Report as abusive

Aug 21, 2009 4:22 pm EDT
India need not have to keep agonizing about anyone breaking Pakistan away. India is still a political concept. Culturally India is a chaos. Linguistically a disaster. It should not have been a country at all. This is another cancer the British left for the world to endure never ending pain. India still needs to be broken into at least 10 different countries or maybe more. Now Pakistan’s main problem is not religion. Everyone with one look will say it is religion. No their problem is lack of understanding in governing. I will blame Zia-ul-Haq for making it worse by bringing the religious groups into Pakistan. He himself was a Jamat-E-Islami supporter. The spin off or Pakistani version of Wahhabism, that bears the evil of all chaos the religion of Islam now facing. Wahhabism is pure evil covered with manipulated verses from Quran and sayings of the prophet. You want clean up that part of the world there is only one way, eradicate the Wahhabis. How do you do that? It is easy, just remove the monarchies of the middle east. They provide the funding for the growth of Wahhabism. Posted by Looter | Report as abusive

Aug 21, 2009 8:30 pm EDT
Foreget the past, take a look at the future leadership; it’s dangerously foolish Posted by thetrajectory | Report as abusive

Aug 22, 2009 1:36 am EDT
Pakistani leaders have sold Pakistan in pieces to China, Saudi, USA, Mullahs and rest to Taliban. It’s hard to know which force is dominant now as all are hiding behind the facade of democracy. When sectarian civil war unmasks this facade, we’ll find out which force is dominant and which leader made that happen! Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

Aug 22, 2009 3:22 am EDT
Every nation gets the leaders it deserves

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive

Aug 22, 2009 6:54 pm EDT
Sanjeev and thetrajectory: I agree with “thetrajectory”. While scoring the previous leaders is of academic value, looking at the future leaders has practical utlility. I have no idea bout the budding leaders other than the obvious. Benazir Bhutto daughters were hopeless based on 2 minute speech in the link. Pakistan, like any other country, needs Desi leaders who breathe the same air as a regular Pakistani. In any case get ready for the leaders schooled in post-Zia era. A kid born in around 1980, the time when Zia ul-Haq incorporated distorted history is nearly 30Yr old today. So it is the beginning of the new batch of leaders. Survival of the fittest will rule out any potentially genuine politican if any. Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Aug 22, 2009 9:16 pm EDT
Politically it sold itself to usa longtime back when it started patronizing the taliban. Economically it is selling itself to gcc countries by giving the fertile lands for 1000 year lease. However the spoils of the richness are to the personal account of the rich and they have ready visa / citizenship with any western country like musharaf sitting in UK Posted by satwa gunam | Report as abusive

Aug 23, 2009 10:43 am EDT
Sanjeev, Most important point is not who did the most damage to Pakistan , but who did not damage Pakistan? During ancient times in India, there was a most popular saying , which goes like this : ” Yatha Raja , Yatha Paraja” ( Like the king, like the people ) the times have changed , in the democratic set up, it has become : ” Yatha Praja, Yatha Raja ” (Like the people, like the king ) . People of Pakistan deserved no better . Right from Ayub Khan, down to Zardari( former Mr 5%) has done their best to damage Pakistan and its people, firstly by converting it into a theocratic state, demonising India as an evil . Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

Aug 23, 2009 3:11 pm EDT
Bad leaders are in all countries. Not just Pakistan. India had Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi, who would have destroyed the country, had they continued any longer. And there were(are) many local chieftains who can blend into an Afghan war lord attire with minimal adjustment. The US has had some very bad leaders – Nixon, GW Bush for example. In the case of Pakistan, bad leadership coincided with global events that changed their focus on short term gains versus long term implications. And the Indiacentric mindset added more to it. I think Pakistanis are realizing this now and I can see a change in their attitude. The survey run to elect their worst leader itself is a sign of that change. Attitudes can destroy societies. Leaders emerge from people and if the public

mindset is not progressive, then the leaders will reflect that attitude. Pakistanis should realize that India really is not their enemy and focus on themselves. That way, their leaders will stay focused on national progress on all fronts. They need to look at their superiority complex and work on trying to eliminate it. It is this underlying complex that has led them to their current state. They have let external forces exploit this superiority complex in them and this can lead to their utter destruction. Their infrastructure can still breed bad and dangerous leaders who would look at their self interests. There is nothing in the system to check them and their actions. I’d say their military itself is made up of bad leadership that has worked constantly for its own survival and maintain its grip on power. It is their military that has kept the anti-India flame alive all these years to improve its hold on power. Pakistan will have good leaders emerge only if they can clip the wings of their military and keep it confined to the barracks. And time is running out for them. Posted by Mauryan | Report as abusive

Aug 23, 2009 4:41 pm EDT
Manish it should read yatha raja tatha praja as is the king so are the people and viceversa cheers Posted by azad | Report as abusive

Aug 25, 2009 10:13 am EDT
Actually Pakistan is a failed state being propped up by international aid.I think it is time for: 1.Balochistan to be completely independant. 2.Pashtoon lands given to afghanistan with peshwar. 3.Sindh and Punjab to form a loose confederation with substantial autonomy to Sindh 4.Kashmir to be merged with India with the punjabis to be deported to Punjab. Then there will be peace and prosperity in the region. Posted by Shobhit | Report as abusive

Aug 26, 2009 9:18 am EDT
It is actions and inactions that make or break leaders. I would love to see how Zardari and Giliani deal with Pakistani Taliban’s new leader: Hakimullah Mehsud. The man who staged the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team and bomboing of hotels in Pakistan. Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Aug 30, 2009 8:54 am EDT
Azad, Thanks for correcting me . People of Pakistan chose a corrupt and bankrupt leadership

who survived on an imaginary threat from India . Now where it ends up: Pakistan is a failed state, and India is a bubbling democracy, economic powerhouse. Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

Sep 1, 2009 11:23 am EDT
Shobit, you said: “Actually Pakistan is a failed state being propped up by international aid.I think it is time for: 1.Balochistan to be completely independant. 2.Pashtoon lands given to afghanistan with peshwar. 3.Sindh and Punjab to form a loose confederation with substantial autonomy to Sindh 4.Kashmir to be merged with India with the punjabis to be deported to Punjab. Then there will be peace and prosperity in the region. - Posted by Shobhit ” –>This should be brokered by a UN resolution to also include complete denuclearization and demilitarization and bring the money and lost potential back into the pockets of the average Pakistani. Pakistan should be allowed to keep its statehood, if it surrenderst he nukes and demilitarizes to lower levels. It is much cheaper for the U.S. to do this, than keep on giving billions of dollars of AID and IMF money, and the Paks just keep blowing it on more weapons, maintaining proxy armies and terrorism camps against India and the world and also putting dollars it into their pocket and maintaining enmity and agression against India. It almost seems, that Pakistan is just itching and die-ing to start a war at any cost with India, the pace at which they are stockpiling nukes and all types of weapons despite the fact that their own people are thirsty and starving and the country is in economic shambles. If the U.S. does not discipline and school Pakistan now, it will not be able the control the level of terrorism that will one day emanate from Pakistan, unto the world. Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Sep 3, 2009 5:31 pm EDT
Lotter says: “India need not have to keep agonizing about anyone breaking Pakistan away. India is still a political concept. Culturally India is a chaos. Linguistically a disaster. It should not have been a country at all. This is another cancer the British left for the world to endure never ending pain. India still needs to be broken into at least 10 different countries or maybe more.” –>That was an extremely ignorant and foolish comment. India is chaotic, but it functions and does it mostly well. Have you tried driving in Delhi without getting in a car accident? Well most people there do and to do that requires extremely skill and mental acuity, of which India has in abundance. Most westerners are too overwhelmed and trying to figure out what appears to be chaos, is actually a multi-level, complex orchestration of

democracy, a productive society, which is inclusive, secular and plural, with rule of law and the largest democracy in the world. If you hate India and indians so much, feel free to get rid of your PC computer, as the USB connections on your PC, were designed by an Indian…Sun Microsystems,…an Indian…I can keep going on here, but you may feel overwhelmed at how much Indians have contributed(U.S. Cruise Missiles), quietly, steadily and humbly to growth and progress in all sectors of the western world in the smallest and largest things that you enjoy on a daily basis. Also, India is the largest supplier of quality brain power to the U.S. Military, U.S. Health, and High Tech sector. Indians enjoy a high level of respect in the U.S., Canada and any where they go, as they are educated, friendly, work hard, respectful others and assimilate well in any type of society or environment. Indian people, like the Chinese persevered the brutal treatment by the Colonialists. The late colonial Lord Macaulay reported back to his masters in the UK, whose intent was to destroy India and genocide many Indians, he simply replied back to his royal masters, that Indians, are an extremely sophisticated people with depth, intelligence, spiritual and human moral development and they cannot ever be broken. Please acquaint yourself with history and please learn some manners. I forgive your ignorance. Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Oct 14, 2009 2:09 am EDT
The clown who says India should be broken up into 12 states is an idiot.India is one of the oldest civilised countries in the world. It is going from strength to strength & is now among the powerful countries of the world.They are a peaceful country to boot.They have never threatened anyone. Posted by Michael Blake | Report as abusive

Oct 28, 2009 5:08 pm EDT
did the poll specify the age requirement? Or particpants were to speculate and imagine about what went on in the 20th century? Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

Mar 4, 2010 5:42 pm EST
I guess Zia-ul-Haq is most destructive of Pakistan’s leaders.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful