“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex.......It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.”

– Albert Einstein

Leading management experts all over the world hypothesise and contend that when the top leadership of an organisation faces a difficult, complex and serious problem, the quickest resolution and the best strategic problem solving approach is to “go for the simplest solution.” They believe this to be the most efficient, safest, cost-effective, and result-orientated “modus operandi” with the least hassles, utmost security and absolute secrecy, especially when the problem is related to political conflict and its management.

In this process of problem solving, three aspects of paramount importance likely to either impede or provide critical help are:

i    The definition and nature of the problem or conflict - that is, if the problem is truly “real” or simply “perceived” as a critical issue.

i    As a rule, specifically in political discourse, political leadership perceptions are entangled, intertwined and intrinsically linked with particular “mindsets”. The risk of mis-defining a particular problem is highly probable because of the implicit political “mindsets” - and because of the high stakes involved in political discourse and conflict in regards to the maintenance, acquisition or dismantling of power. This element, in turn, reinforces a psychological fear of insecurity among competing forces, making it all the more plausible that a crisis situation is created when it does not actually exist.

i    The competing actors in the conflict should fully examine and understand the implications of unpredictable factors that might intervene during the course of their particularly selected conflict-management approach. Any misjudgement in this respect can truly turn the tables and absolutely change the entire course of direction and its intended objectives.

Let us consider, for deliberative purposes, the following possible scenarios in the wake of the “memogate” scandal involving three major national institutions in the country, namely the executive, the military establishment and the political leadership, those incumbent in power as well as the major opposition force in Parliament. Let us apply the above management advice, while trying to comprehend the “memogate” scandal and the role of competing actors in this conflict.

The US Seals conduct a highly secret military operation deep inside Pakistan’s territory close to a vital military garrison and claim to have killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad - whether Bin Laden was killed is another issue. In my considered opinion, this was staged theatrics (Bin Laden was already dead) to boost Obama’s credibility as a strong Commander-in-Chief for his presidential re-election bid. The rumour in the international media is that Pakistan’s President knew of this operation and had, in fact, approved it. Seemingly, Pakistan’s top military leadership effectiveness and ability as a defensive force to safeguard national territory is challenged. Then comes the news: Pakistan’s top civilian leadership might be knowledgeable of the US military operation. The top civilian leadership sees a threat to its political power by a possible reaction by the military establishment. A military “coup” is perceived, as a possible response.

Question: What might the Pakistani President and his top aide do? Go for the simplest solution: They decide to approach their political patrons in Washington and offer the Obama administration concessions that America cannot refuse - “American boots on the ground, if General Kayani stepped down……locating other bad guys…….”, a military leadership in Pakistan of America’s choice, open skies, continuation of drone attacks, open land routes, free-floating CIA operatives, etc. Mansoor Ijaz testifies that “Haqqani told (me) that the approach to the Americans had been authorised by Asif Zardari, who wanted to put together a new national security team similar to the national security team in the USA.” The Pakistani military intelligence and leadership comes under the absolute control of Zardari, who finally fulfils a longstanding American demand. (You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours!)

The question is: Who are Pakistan’s “bad boys” in this plausible scenario?

Another question: What might the establishment do under the prevailing conditions? It cannot stage a military “coup”, fearful of enormous public and international backlash and equally cognisant of the difficulties in managing a failing socio-economic-political state. It cannot unseat the President constitutionally either. It goes for the simplest solution: It gets one of the main players in the game, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, sacked instantly!

The question is: Who are Pakistan’s “bad boys” in this possible scenario?

Question: What might the main opposition party and its leadership do under the circumstances? The PML-N’s credibility as an effective opposition is questioned nationwide. Its political ratings are down and losing massive public support. Its leadership goes for a simple solution: Avail the opportunity to score some points with the public. Earn some political premium by going public on the issue and challenge it in the Supreme Court. It is once again in the national limelight - mission accomplished!

But the question arises: Who are Pakistan’s “bad boys” given the above scenario?

Yet another question: What is in it for Mansoor Ijaz in all of this orchestrated political upheaval? Money, power and influence. Perhaps, lucrative military contracts through his investment firm and favouritism’s and special courtesies from Obama’s White House for tactically and skilfully strengthening the US influence over Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership in an American presidential election year. Ijaz is not a Pakistani citizen. He is a businessman and powerbroker - in all probability, he considers all means fair and square as long as the ends are achieved. (As we all know, Ijaz has been negotiating on behalf of various White House administrations throughout the years.) Interestingly, Obama and Ijaz are on the same page in this respect. Aren’t they?

Question: Who do you suppose are the “bad boys” here?

Management experts will contend that there have been serious flaws committed here in failing to define the true natures of the perceived threats, and each party in the conflict has completely failed in understanding the unpredictable factors that might and will intervene in the final judgment in deciding what “memogate” is all about. Someone will have to pay a price!

In the meantime, the nation ought to decide: Who are Pakistan’s “bad boys”?

Go for the simplest solution! It is not difficult to sort that out!

The writer is UAE-based academic policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and the author of several books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a masters degree from

Columbia university in New York.