We live today in a world where the people are connected to their government and their leaders through multiple channels, traditional and modern. In such a day and age, it is remarkable that Pakistan’s leaders, especially its Prime Minister Imran Khan are so unaware of the ground reality and the economic pain that the ordinary citizens are going through.
In a recent piece titled ‘Government and its people’ columnist Khurram Hussain notes that “It is not just a travesty in our time to have a situation of high inflation and high unemployment, where the ruler is either not aware of the situation, or has been persuaded by sycophantic courtiers that none of it is real and it is only his or her enemies who are advancing these allegations to advance their political aims. It is not just a travesty, but is a near fatal error of judgement for a ruler in modern times to close himself or herself off from the world in which the common citizenry is living. The more these ties are broken, the more the ruler and his or her ilk talk a language and communicate a narrative that has little to no meaning for the lives of ordinary citizens, and the more the state loses its own moorings and begins to serve narrow interests rather than the broader ones.”
As Hussain points out, “A state progressively captured by private interests and driven by their narratives lives on borrowed time. Once the ruler is convinced that all is going well in the realm, when in reality it is not, that ruler must be weaned out of this comfortable cocoon. It is essential for any ruler to have at least some people in his or her inner circle who provide conflicting advice, conflicting assessments of where things stand. But if that is not the case, if the sycophants have successfully shunted out all those who might serve up a dose of reality for the ruler and cocooned him or her in their manufactured reality built with sugar and spice, then the very moorings of the state are in danger.”
Finally, “Rulers of modern-day nation states cannot afford to turn their gaze away from realities that are unpleasant to their sense of self importance, or their sense of entitlement. If they behave like the monarchs of eras past they break their links with the very people from whom their power flows. The critical question for any ruler to ask themselves in times of challenge is this: which window opens onto the real world, and which one to simply my own curated garden?”
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