Maybe I am just projecting, but this New Year seems unusually subdued and devoid of hope. Uncertainty prevails over almost every sector from education to security to business to commerce, accompanied by a sense of helplessness amongst people as the management performance of their political leadership slips to new lows. And in a way this is not surprising: These past twenty months Pakistanis have been bombarded with governmental failures one after another and a leadership with no idea about what to do. History tells us that a nation already stands broken the moment its national confidence melts away and this is precisely what is happening here. Strange times when: economic managers take pride in selling assets rather than resurrecting corporations or in rebuilding institutions; find ways to outsource service instead of striving to serve; refuse to shoulder the blame or feel ashamed amidst glaring failures of supply chain management of day to day essentials like fuel, power, energy and utilities; feel no remorse in squandering precious national resources by non-transparent spending on imprudent infrastructure additions instead of first extracting optimal efficiencies from existing resources; and last but not least, make a complete hash of fixing national priorities. Sadly, all this in the name of democracy!

Unlike for Pakistan, 2014 for our neighbors, China and India, has been quite satisfactory. India under its new government is currently busy in quickly resetting its economic priorities by ensuring that growth and employment generation takes precedence over all other matters. Once the home industry is firing on all cylinders and people have jobs the rest will automatically fall into place – As we know Mr. Modi climbed his way to the top by implementing similar initiatives in Gujarat and now wants to replicate his successful provincial experiences on a grander scale across India. China also did well in 2014 despite the slow world economic recovery and weak external demand – the Chinese economy is deeply inter-twined into global trade – as both its imports and exports grew during the year, easing all fears on a hard-landing. According to data published by the General Administration of Customs, China’s economic space gained unexpected ground, rising by 27 trillion Yuan or 3 percent on 2013. China’s Ministry of Commerce pointed out that China significantly moved up into the stage of capital exports signalling a qualitative change in its trade along with a quantitative one.

Authenticity in the modern day world of management has become the gold standard for leadership. But a simplistic understanding of what authenticity truly means can limit a leadership’s growth and performance. Seeking and getting advice are central to effective leadership and decision making, and they require emotional intelligence, self-awareness, restraint, diplomacy and most importantly the courage and confidence to look beyond the comfort zone of traditional or immediate advisors and associates. The main problem with remaining stuck in a time warp is that all too often when we think we are dispensing a certain level of management to others, they perceive our performance quite differently.

This happens because with things that affect daily amenities, people tend to unconsciously make judgments on present day effectiveness and not on perceived past laurels, if any. And this is precisely what is happening to the reputation of the PML(N)’s leadership due to its sheer incompetence and inability to successfully govern thus far. Also, the issues with this government’s approach have been manifold: from lack of a sound economic vision to an absence of meaningful and proactive action in sectors that hold the key to tomorrow’s success; an inexcusable disinterest in assembling a professional and competent economic team – their economic managers seem stuck in the past using ancient tools to fix modern-day solutions while the world of management has since moved on; and last but not least in adopting a short-sighted accountancy focus on larger issues by merely concentrating on today’s numbers and disregarding the real underlying future potential. I am not advocating any particular way forward on energy generation since the policy choice should ultimately be the prerogative of the government of the day, but only pointing towards its failures as nearly two years down the road the public still does know of any concrete plan on how this government plans to practically overcome this most important challenge facing the Pak economy – Are we to move in the coal direction or LNG or re-prioritization of gas and in what ratio/mix, and depending upon the mix we choose what exactly will be the related operational dynamics of our choice(s)?

And there’s more. For example, from the beginning of 2015, this government is being somewhat unburdened of its foreign and homeland security policies, which are instrumental in containing both internal and external threats. The common theme here being that this in effect should provide it with more time to concentrate on the economy. However, what it needs to be mindful of is that until now on multiple fronts, identification of issues wasn’t the problem; it was the solutions it came up with. And now to put up a better show in its remaining period, it perhaps requires fresh minds with fresh thinking!