Overcoming fear

My late father Nazir Ahmed Malik strongly believed that an honest and upright person must be fearless. Being a man of action, not words he penned some of life’s dos and donts. On the top of the list was “No compromises, do not fear confrontation.” Within the ambit of law, he operated fearlessly. At times it was scary for a young lad growing under his tutelage. With a grin on his face, he would say if one has not committed dacoity or murder there is nothing to fear. On one occasion I experienced real action under his command. In the decade of the seventies, he had purchased property in Anarkali, despite the registration and full payment, the seller was not handing over possession. After the brotherly negotiations failed, he decided on direct action. We raided the property and took control, the watchman tried to intervene but he was overpowered. Police were called in. My father remained cool and presented complete papers of ownership, a set was also given to the SHO. Instead of arresting him, a case was registered against the seller. His approach was action combined with immaculate paperwork together with respect for the law.

A few days back I stopped at a red light. Two policemen on a motorbike wearing uniforms with the printed sign ‘No Fear’ went through. I was taken aback and decided to take them on the next time which happened a few days later. I stopped them and inquired why they were breaking the law. Fearlessly they replied, “Do whatever you can” (Kar lo jo karna hai). When custodians of law break the law, it is called ‘badmaashi’ not fearlessness. Unfortunately, in the land of the pure, real fearless individuals like my father have become extinct. Sheepishly, the most honest and upright people do not stand up against this blatant abuse of state authority. The term ‘sharafat’ is often used as an excuse for this timid behaviour. Roguery prevails over ‘sharafat’ which is indeed sad. It seems most people have given up. Instead of fearlessness, there is hopelessness—why?

I decided to attend a course on effective confrontation during my days abroad due to the inspiration from my father. Today, it is considered an important trait in modern management practice. For course correction confrontation plays an important role. In order to be meaningful, it calls for in-depth preparation and a lot of homework which we are unwilling to do. Confrontation is the most important component of data-based decision-making. Decisions should be based on data/information not personal opinions, whims or influence. Most third-world countries are shy of accountability as the decision makers do not have the skills or framework for correct and timely decisions. In the absence of accountability, blatant misuse of authority goes unpunished. The entire state apparatus remains coercive and non-productive.

Only a few able, upright and fearless officers remain in the system, the rest are in survival mode—just killing time and enjoying unlimited perks. Another saying of my father was, ‘dare to be true’. In the land of the pure, this has never been easy. In the last three decades, truthfulness has been a major causality of our convoluted non-functional system. Then is always a massive cover-up to hide irregularities and maladministration. After removing Article 216 of the constitution that called for the setting up of administrative accountability courts, the offices of Ombudsman and Information Commissions were created. To take on the atrocities of the state, these organisations can play an effective role.

The former Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan (IK) in most of his speeches, talks about the importance of overcoming fear. He has become a symbol of courage and resistance despite the odds pitted against him. Undeterred, IK fights on. His bounce back after losing power is legendary. In his own words “I fight till the last ball”. Bhutto never got a second chance while IK has managed to squeeze one. Today, Pakistan stands at the crossroads of freedom long denied. The struggle must continue. It is the respect for the law, courage to dissent and fearlessness to fight that separates men from boys. I am reminded of the words of my father and mentor, “In the end, it is a game of stamina.” Let us build it by overcoming fear to fight on till victory. Nations rise and fall together through courage.



Dr Farid A Malik
The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation,
email: fmaliks@hotmail.com

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