ATP Poll: Who did the most ‘good’?

Posted on August 19, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

In this, the third ATP Opinion Poll (see previous polls here and here) we want to see what you think about what previous Pakistani achieved.

The key word there is ‘achieved.’ We always have plenty of discussions about what leaders have and are doing wrong, but nearly never talk about what they did right. Interestingly, even when we are trying to make a case for someone, we tend to make it by explaining what is wrong with everyone else. After all, if everyone else is bad (and worse) then our guy must be good, at least in ccomparison and by default. The logic makes a perverse sort of sense but tends to take our political conversations towards confrontations (since they are based on ‘attacking’ the other rather than on ‘supporting’ our own). So, here is an experiment to see if we are capable of talking differently about such things.

The Question: Focussing primarily on whatever ‘positives’ might have been achieved during their stint(s) in power, who, amongst the following, did the most ‘good’ for Pakistan?

Ayub Khan
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
Nawaz Sharif

[For Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif consider the combined impact of two stints they each had in power]

I have purposely excluded Liaquat Ali Khan because he is now too far away in the past and because his ‘founding father’ status has meant that we usually do not analyze his tenure in political terms. I have also left out Pervez Musharraf (see ATP poll on him here) because his actions impact us immediately and so the passions ignited are too current. Others who had short tenure, or were leading in name alone have been excluded.

I hope we will have a lively discussion in addition to the polling. I realize that we will disagree about what was ‘good,’ but it seems to be that a disagreement about achievements and what we consider to be good achievements is preferable to mere name-calling and may end up telling us something not only about these leaders, but about ourselves.

As before, you can get to the polling area by clicking on the responses in the sidebar, or directly by clicking here.

If you do want to influence the results, please, by all means ask your friends to also vote. Voting is anonymous; as it should be. This will, of course, not be a very scientific poll, but it will at least give us a sense of what this community � the ATP cohort � thinks. Do vote, but please vote only once (even if you are smart enough to beat the system somehow). You can view the results here. [Polling Closed; 12.25 PM EST, 23 August 2006] Analysis of results available here.

28 responses to “ATP Poll: Who did the most ‘good’?”

  1. Hammad says:

    not sure what was so golden about Ayub’s generation. Most bad things in Pakistan inclduing our habit of military dictators can be traced back to him.

  2. Eidee Man says:

    Seem’s like everyone agrees that Zia’s period was pretty unfortunate for Pakistan. However, did he really fool the U.S.? I thought he himself was receiving orders from others ;)

    Also, this is somewhat off-topic but here’s an old (1988!) article on Zia that I found very interesting:

  3. FS says:

    Ayub gets the nod for making the biggest contribution to Pakistan’s industrial base & infra structure. But in the end he’s the one who left Pakistan with the curse of the military as a political force, setting up Zia, Musharraf & also justifying the back door dealings of the army during the terms of Benazir & Nawaz.
    By opening the door to future military governments, Ayub wipes out every single accomplishment of his. It’s sad, because he’d be the one who made the biggest contribution of the 5 mentioned, were it not for his coup.

    I think its safe to say that Zia could not be considered to have done anything positive for the nation at all. He was a master of diplomacy where it came to dealing with India (visiting India for cricket matches, hosting Bollywood stars in Islamabad, etc.) but lets face it: is there any answer for what happened in Pakistan in those 11 years? Did the country move forward even 1 inch under Zia?

    My choice would probably have to be ZA Bhutto. I agree with the charges against him of nepotism, vindictiveness, and hypocrisy (feudal lords who hold their property while running on a progressive, populist platform really do stink of a special kind of duplicity). But, this is the man who put Pakistan on “the map” in many ways. His speech at the UN, his ability to draw crowds, his ability to outwit Indira Gandhi, all brought a level of esteem to Pakistan which has since been missing. He also became the model of 3rd world leadership with his superb English skills, U.S. education, and progressive ideology. Every aspiring head of state in Africa, Latin America, and even the new East Europe follows the Bhutto standard for becoming leaders in their home nation, even today. Even more amazingly, he worked the “Awam” angle at home so skillfully that he was able to get the votes at home, avoid being labelled a Socialist/Communist by the US (Lumumba should have been so lucky!), curried favor with all Western governments & still kept the relationship with China most cordial.

    Benazir & Nawaz may deserve a few words of praise for a project or two, but these 2 are just not statesmen (stateswomen?). In particular Nawaz Sharif projected an image of complete intellectual bankruptcy, and that is a wholly embarassing situation for a country like Pakistan.

  4. Pervaiz M. Alvi says:

    They all did some ‘good’:
    AYUB gave us national pride as he stood tall on the international stage. He started industrialization, water management, built strong military, gave family laws. He was a statesman and a natural leader. He gave us a beautiful capital worthy of a nation.

    Z.A. BHUTTO picked the small pieces and put them together. He navigated us through the difficult period when the enemy was encouraged to strick a second blow. He help put together a democratic constitution. Did some land reform and started Nuclear wepons program. He was a born leader and a statesman.

    ZIA fooled USA and the nation at the same time. A dark period for our country.

    BENAZIR: All style and no substance. Gave lot of emotional speeches. Left the country.

    NAWAZ: No style and no substance. Started the modern highway system. Left the country.

  5. Eidee Man says:

    I think the nuclear issue is much too complicated to be extrapolated here. Frankly, I’m ambivalent to Pakistan acuquiring nuclear weapons. On the one hand, these weapons dont make much sense when the poor in your country are without food, water, and medicine. On the other hand, it would be naive to think that Pakistan would have much say in world affairs if we did not have nuclear weapons….other countries know that they cant simply push Pakistan around because of the danger of nuclear war. It’s also abundantly clear that India would have attempted some territory grabbing

    ATP Editorial Comment: Off-topic material removed. Please see ATP comment policy. 

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