There has developed, writes Walter Lippman “a functional derangement of the relationship between the mass of the people and the government.” The people, he writes, “have acquired power which they are incapable of exercising, and the government they elect have lost powers which they must recover if they are to govern.” What this means, is that there is a need for a responsible electorate and strong government.

Institutional decay can provide explanations for political, constitutional and economic crises, issues of governance and leadership, and the negative consequence of policies that lead to issues of poverty, unemployment, crime, and national security. Providing a culture for good governance and raising the level of living of the people is basically the responsibility of the government. Efforts in this context can only be fruitful in a friendly internal and external environment.

At this juncture in Pakistan’s history, the most pressing need is for the country to stand united. The real question is not the power of the government itself, but how that power is used to prompt justice and national well-being. Only a modern, tolerant and democratic Pakistan could provide the political and social framework for overcoming complex crises. There should be an end to violence and disagreements are not something to be afraid of. In an open society, managing and resolving conflicts is an essential learnt skill.

Economic factors that create underdevelopment are influenced and shaped by local culture, and in particular, local political structure i.e. the state and public sector bureaucracies that manage the development effort. Our current politics is not supportive of efforts to address underdevelopment and to overcome the crises of poverty, growth and governance. To resolve all these issues, a sincere effort is needed in the education sector. This sector requires attention for reform and increased investment.

We have to remember that governance is not simply a heavy-handed approach to power. Governance is effective only when those who are being governed consent to obey. Most people within any organization are governed through coercion. Why else would we have the need for internal and external auditors? The aim of democracy, under such coercion, is to help public representatives acquire political management skills and good governance strategies to deliver welfare to the masses. If divorced from this fundamental aspect, as is the case in present day Pakistan, democracy becomes irrelevant to the nation.

Saner elements expect political leaders to demonstrate maturity, shun politics of hate and avoid unnecessary politicisation of issues. Crowd behavior and street politics do not match with democracy and responsible constitutionalism. Collective cooperative action is the need of the day. Every citizen of this country has the obligation to do things, which go a long way to enhance the strength of Pakistan. This country does not need self-seekers, or those who join politics for personal power.

Effective leadership makes politics meaningful. Research studies indicate that effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what is known as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. A person can have the best training in the world, an incisive analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he/she still won’t make a great leader. Versus technical skills and IQ, emotional intelligence proves to be twice as important as the others. The five components of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

Self-awareness is defined as the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others. The hallmarks include self-confidence, realistic self-assessment and self-deprecating sense of humour. Self-regulation is defined as the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, the propensity to suspend judgment, to think before acting. The hallmarks include trustworthiness and integrity, comfort with ambiguity, and openness to change. Motivation is defined as a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status, and a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. Its hallmarks include strong drive to achieve, optimism even in the face of failure, and organizational commitment. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people, and skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions. The hallmarks include, expertise in building and retaining talent, cross-cultural sensitivity, and service to the people (clients/customers). Social skill is defined as proficiency in managing relationships and building networks, an ability to find common ground and build rapport. Hallmarks include effectiveness in leading change, persuasiveness, and expertise in building and leading teams.

An important consideration for organizational as well as political leaders is creating a ‘Culture of Trust’. Followers want leaders who are credible and whom they can trust. Effective leaders lead through empowerment of party workers and organizational workers thus increasing their decision-making discretion. Leadership styles, however, have to fit in cultural expectations. Adaptation and adoption become necessary to operate within cultural boundaries.

As Kahlil Gibran wrote, “You have to know who you are and what you are, whether you are of those entering into the world of life or of those going into the land of darkness. Are you a parasite living on the flesh of others or are you a devoted patriot who whispers into the ear of inner-self, ‘I love to serve my country as a faithful servant.’ If so, you are an oasis in the desert ready to quench the thirst of the wayfarer.”

    The writer is a former director NIPA, a political analyst, a public policy expert

    and an author.