Q: Briefly explain us the external and internal security challenges Pakistan is facing today? What and how should we prioritize the response so as not to lose balance against any of the foes?
Answer: Pakistan is bedeviled by both external and internal challenges at present. The departure of US Forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, after having left behind a small force, will impact the internal and external security matrix of Pakistan. It will be a key thing for Pakistan to watch that things develop smoothly in Afghanistan because if, for any reason, it doesn't stabilize and continues to be riddled with uncertainties in the aftermath of a decade long stay of NATO / ISAF, and an internal strife develops just as it happened in 1989, it will definitely have very negative implications on Pakistan's internal security situation. Pakistan would have liked internal peace process for stability in Afghanistan to commence; but that isn't the case and Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between USA and Afghanistan hasn't been signed as yet. One can assume about presence of some American Forces in Afghanistan after 2014 but uncertainties those prevail in Afghanistan can make things difficult for our country and lack of stability in Afghanistan will have impact on Pakistan.
The border management between Afghanistan and Pakistan will be another key to our need for domestic stability. After different operations in FATA and Swat by Pak Army, most of these terrorists crossed over the border and moved to Kunar and Nuristan regions of Afghanistan. And even now, if there is an operation in North Waziristan, the terrorists may still move into ungoverned adjacent areas of Afghanistan located on the border areas with Pakistan. This shall mean a continuous interference from outside into Pakistan's territory. Another concern is Afghanistan's proxy meddling in Pakistan. Afghans have been alleging Pakistan as responsible for few incidents of violence in their territory but what is more alarming, are the reports of Afghan groups, or Afghan sponsored groups, carrying out activities inside Pakistan.
India is always there as a point of concern for us simply because two third of its forces continue to be deployed along its borders with Pakistan. Although Pakistan has pulled out some of its forces from Eastern border, however, Pakistan will continue to very consciously watch its East. This is how I view the external security challenges to Pakistan.
On the internal front, Pakistan has even bigger challenges. I shall briefly recount each one of these. First is the lack of governance and enfeebled capacity to administer within the Pakistani state. As a result it has begun to appear weak, irresolute, incapable of functioning even averagely. This situation is posing few questions into the minds of people of Pakistan as the basic contract of the state with its citizens and people is under question. Next most dominating and prevalent problem for Pakistan is terrorism which will also continue to bother us for sometime because of being multidimensional. The inability to respond to it properly during last few years shows the state in very poor light. In addition to these problems include economic issues, division within society; add to it the poor polity, the confrontation within institutions and perceptions arising out of military takeovers. These things have divided the body of our society which remains a very pervasive threat to our cohesion. The culture of radicalism, extremism and terrorism is manifested in the guulies & coochas (streets & lanes) of our cities. So you need to have a very comprehensive way of looking at security of Pakistan. If we think that only through policy of non-interference in Afghanistan and conducting operation in FATA and North Waziristan, we are at peace No we aren't. The challenges are huge. The leadership of today has much work to do. I don't see that happening. If military leadership is doing its work and keeping things in order in their domain, it's like an island among others who have, frankly, gone astray. We need to somehow bring the entire system back into resonance.
Q. In post-9/11 scenario, Pakistan was left with little choices but to combat terrorism to stay aligned with the world community. Today, after fighting this war for over thirteen years, the international forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of this year. Where do you see the “War on Terror” going in internal and external context?
Answer: There are certain things that have happened on the world map, particularly in the cultural or civilizational context. For example, where does Al-Qaeda stand today? Is Al-Qaeda a dead phenomenon? Will it survive as a movement? How many ideologues continue to populate it? What kind of leadership influence will they exercise? Will it have a leadership that will justly replace Osama Bin Laden's (OBL) bent of mind? Even if he was a passive figure, he was important for Al-Qaeda movement to generate ideas and thoughts the world over in Muslims. A question may be asked that why do people of Islam feel wronged? Why should they fall for something as populist or driven as OBL espoused? Simply because there are problems in Islam and in Muslim nations which have not been resolved for a long time. Palestine being one; Iraq and the wrongs there are another; Arab Spring creating this tumult in the Arab world. This is a cause of concern for Muslims all over the world, at least in their perception. Secondly, many of the Middle Eastern nations have been autocratic. People have been led by monarchies and dictators for years and decades; and in most cases have remained oppressed. A democratic order has rarely been practiced in true spirit. This has given cause to cleavages within the Muslim world; others have tended to exploit these. The induction of social media and the internet enabled people to galvanise ideas and movements against such repression. Unless given their rights people have this tendency to resort to force; they could also be encouraged to adopt militancy as a way of fighting for their cause. A pervasiveness of such trends, mostly in the Islamic world, tends to grant it a civilisational hue.
If leadership remains available to this trend of movements in the Islamic world, I see it going either way: remaining political and agitational to earn political rights; or, remaining tied to the militant ways to spawn a persisting Al Qaeda type phenomenon. We should know how terrorism comes about? Radicalisation in a society converts to extremism. Extremists then pick up arms and becomes militants which then resorts to terror to impose their will. There are enough number of people who fund this entire franchise. Therefore you may see that Al-Qaeda will stay, so terrorism might also stay.
Internally for Pakistan: one, Afghanistan needs to stabilize. Two, proxy wars on sectarian lines between Islamic countries must not let to be fought on the soil of Pakistan. It has to be stopped. Third, all ends must be secured to cover our internal dimensions, as I explained in one of my earlier responses. The link of radicalism and terrorism and how it connects, from where does the money comes in, how effective are our laws, how effectively we prosecute terrorists and how quickly we convict and punish them. Deterrence of the real value needs to be put into place. And only then can we control this menace. Framing of law and then law enforcement will be the key to managing our internal security situation.
Terrorism will stay in Pakistan till the time our policy structures, government structures, governance and administrative structures develop capacity and ability to fight this menace. Unfortunately it is not going to get away so easily. Terrorism will have to be fought and won against. We will have to integrate the clergy and Ulema in developing a narrative that defies radicalism and extremism from our midst. Only when these divisions are finished and the nation becomes one, will it then have the capacity to fight the threat of terrorism.
Q. “Dialogue and Deterrence” is a visible strategy on scene in the current war with violent forces in Pakistan. How we need to strategize the both so as to ensure peace for the people within constitutional domains of a democratic, free and pluralistic Pakistan?
Answer: There are two dimensions of terrorism in Pakistan. One is terrorism at the borders and fringes; for example, FATA, North Waziristan, provinces of Kunar and Nuristan towards other side of the border, and four other provinces of Afghanistan with Pakistan including Paktia, Paktika, Nangarhar and Khost. These six provinces can be a cause for future trouble for Pakistan unless we handle here-on our matters with extremists in FATA. Since all of this is the border regions, there management becomes important and imperative.
When people say that forces should be withdrawn from North Waziristan as part of quid pro quo for peace in FATA and North Waziristan, it becomes a non starter. You will need the army in these regions on a more sustainable basis to control the borders and ensure peace. We need to cross the rubicon of tradition and place our military in FATA. We may even have to establish permanent garrisons in the troubled areas. There is already military presence in that area and we will need to add numbers to ensure better management of borders. Currently the state is trying to work out whether the dialogue works? If the indicators aren't there, there are alternate options. The retaliatory air strikes were just a glimpse of what can follow.
Third aspect is to fight terrorism inside our own nation. The internal security policy that this government came out with few days back is not a bad way to start but it is still incomplete. The issue is not simply about police, civil bureaucracy, religion and Madrassah. It is actually aimed at changing ethos of this nation where we are able to recognize and understand, as a nation, about a threat which endangers all as a society. For example, if I need to rent away a house, I must make sure it has not been rented to the wrong people. Similarly these terrorists come to the cities and hire transport or even buy it for their ulterior purposes. People must have the awareness to report the matter to the police and the agencies. I was in England in 1992 for few years. Those were the days when Irish Republican Army (IRA) issue was at its peak. I saw the whole British nation aware and sensitive to their societal responsibilities. We, unfortunately, as a society do not have this kind of discipline, awareness, education or ethos to be able to think of a problem on these lines. We will have to change this culture. It is not your problem, my problem or even his; it is problem of every member of this nation. This is an area that our leadership has not been able to ingrain in our people and to introduce it as a culture. There cannot be any compromise on the Constitution of Pakistan. There cannot be any compromise on geographical entity of Pakistan. There cannot be a compromise on system of governance in Pakistan. Even if someone wants to impose Sharia, it must be done through Constitutional means. We have the Shariat Court; we have Council of Islamic Ideology (CII); no doubt there are areas that we may need to work on but simply stating that ours is not an Islamic Republic is perhaps the biggest of the fallacies that anyone can generate in the minds of public. We are very lucky to have a constitution that was agreed upon by all politicians, and all shades of religion, in 1973.
Q. You remained ambassador in Sri Lanka that fought a prolonged insurgency. What are the relevant lessons for Pakistan to successfully tackle the issues of terrorism and militancy?
Answer: Incidentally I assumed appointment of Ambassador when the operation against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had just begun and was concluded before completion of my tenure in 2009. During the insurgency period of almost 27 years, different Sri Lankan governments alternated between the options of dialogue and small operations with the insurgents. There had never been a full-fledged war meant to win it and most of the operations were conducted to recover the lost land. There is a famous Elephant Pass that connects Jaffna with areas dominated by (LTTE). This pass was the usual bone of contention; sometimes government would occupy it and sometimes LTTE, and the war went around that pass. Many of their military heroes are the ones who recovered this pass from LTTE and gave it back to the government. But no one actually took the war to the enemy.
Large part of North East of Sri Lanka was LTTE area which was without writ of the government, almost in the similar fashion that some of agencies in FATA are without it today. The current President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who came in power in 2005, often stated that 'we need to do something to resolve LTTE issue'. The narrative was built, spread and suddenly, for a change, everyone in the system, government and public felt the same way and followed the line that they needed to do something about it. A tough army Commander appreciated the situation and assessed that LTTE could only be taken out by war. He decided to use this option of operation against the insurgents. Almost 30 months / 2.5 years of war was put into place. It was a full scale war in which entire area of North East and North Sri Lanka was recovered from LTTE and they were defeated.
What did Sri Lankans do to achieve it? It was through a clear-cut political resolve. They were under tremendous pressure; local pressure, external pressure from USA, Europe and, India, because almost 80 million Tamils live around the world who posed a serious challenge to the Sri Lankan government. But they sustained this pressure and gave free hand to their military to tackle the situation. They gave full support to their military, bought them new military hardware, aeroplanes, helicopters, revived their dead Air Force, and asked them to concentrate on war without worrying for external fronts. This was a milestone achievement by Sri Lankans and set a record of eliminating insurgency through war in the recent history. This operation has brought many positive results for that country; today you visit Sri Lanka, you find them reaping the benefits of peace. A country now on a much faster pace of development; fastest growing country in South Asia, and may even earn the status of the most developed country in South Asia in the next five years.
When you make decisions, you must stick to them. There is never a perfect solution to any problem. But you value your judgment based on where majority of the good lies, let your people stand behind it, stick to the task and any goal can be achieved. That is how nations work. You can't really dither between dialogue and operation and again dialogue, looking for an easier way. There is no easier way out; when you want something for your country you need to go on and work for it.
Q. War in Afghanistan is one of the reasons for many troubles in Pakistan. Where do you see Afghanistan in post-2014 scenario and what measures Pakistan should take to safeguard against any negative fallout?
Answer: Because of lack of peace process in Afghanistan, it leaves the situation very tenuous internally in terms of sustainability and stability of the political system. The Afghan National Army (ANA) does not have the capacity to do what NATO and ISAF have been doing for the past many years. Perhaps it will never attain that capability and quality. The way ANA has been formed, it needs approximately 4 to 5 billion dollars to sustain itself. Almost 90 % of the current budget of Afghanistan is pumped through external sources. USA and Europeans countries are spending an annual amount of approximately 13 billion dollars in Afghanistan. When they leave, most of this help will also go, leaving Afghanistan with approximately 10 billion dollars as total size of their economy, and she will have very little capacity to sustain the ANA. So this will make situation tenuous for Afghanistan internally and will make it untenable as a state, a situation that can create difficulties for Pakistan.
So fallout of post 2014 should be of great concern to us. What we could not do in 1989/1990, we need to do today. Manage this border very strongly and firmly. Hold the border regardless of the sensitivities that have in the past made it into a loose border. This is the time to try out and work out difficulties and find solutions to the issues that we have not been able to do in our earlier history with Afghanistan. We must convey to Afghanistan our need to manage our borders with them more effectively. But before doing this, Pakistan should also ensure elimination of terrorist in its tribal regions.
We also need to make sure that our cities, metropolises, Qasbas, towns and villages are taken care of. We have to ensure that police and bureaucracy are functioning well. Intelligence should be doing its job perfectly and needs to lead this drive against menace of terrorism. We should not interfere in Afghan internal matters, but ensure the sanctity of our own space. Beyond the sensitivity that neighbours might possess nations today are and must be run by own national interests.
Q. A “Two Front War” has worried many countries of the world in the past. How do you view Indian involvement in Afghanistan?
Answer: Our internal situation is what is going to give a cause for worry when we consider how India might become a concern with their increasing influence in Afghanistan. And more than Indians, it will be the Afghan Intelligence that is going to give us trouble. During the Karzai government Afghan Intelligence and Ministry of Interior have maintained a hostile stance against Pakistan. I feel that carryover of this sentiment will affect Pakistan badly in the days to come. As long as Balochistan, KPK and FATA are well governed and are politically more stable, rule of law is in place, economic dividends and benefits are transferred to the people, we will find that the cleavages that have impacted the society at large, and specially at these places where we either have a nationalist, religious or ideological anti-state sentiment, the capacity will automatically exist to fight off adverse external influence. <?p>
Q. Peace Dialogue with India has also not proceeded to any conclusive stage primarily due to Indian inflexible attitude on core issues. Contrarily, we also hear belligerent talk and witness offensive mindset manifesting in doctrines like Cold Start Doctrine (CSD). How much menacing is the threat from the Eastern neighbour with particular reference to rise of political Hindu chauvinism?
Answer: The arrival of Narendra Modi as a probable future Prime Minister of India has raised relevant concerns, not only for Pakistan, but also for India itself. He has invested much of political capital in trying to appease the extremist Right-Wing Hindu sentiment with his anti Pakistan rhetoric. When chosen as the PM he will find it difficult to distance himself from what he has already committed to. So when he has invested so much in playing with people's sentiments, he will have to play by rules that he had set for himself which in turn border at the hard-line. Another point to worry in such an eventuality is India and Pakistan being nuclear nations. These nations are historically put on a war path even with rhetoric as a starting point or as a starting trigger and then leading on to some clashes here and there and snowballing into an operational engagement. It can lead to what can be an unintended conflagration. I don't think Modi will go that way if he has any sense and I hope he displays that when sits as the Prime Minister. This is the philosophy of Hindu chauvinism driven by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and used by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to buy votes.
So if it becomes Modi's way of governing then it doesn't bode well for the region. But I hope when he becomes the Prime Minister, his thoughts of running the Indian state change. When Vajpayee, again from the BJP, took the chair in India, he was actually the one who initiated the move to improve relationship with Pakistan. Although Modi is not Vajapayee, but there is always a balance that responsibility brings into your way of looking at things. I hope that when he sits in that chair, he becomes more responsible.
The current environment between India and Pakistan has also changed a bit. It is a fact that there is history of our unresolved problems, territorial difficulties and political issues that have driven hostilities between both countries. Kashmir being what it is, a core issue, leaving it unresolved will mean a resident hostility which will keep coming to the surface. Not that Pakistan wants to go this way, but India too looks at Pakistan with great suspicion because of Kashmir. Then there is Siachen dispute, Sir Creek problem; post-Mumbai terrorism from the Indian standpoint has become an equally central issue. As of now, India only wants to talk about Trade & Terrorism with Pakistan and nothing else. In my assessment, in presence of all such issues, hostilities will continue between both countries.
Under a nuclear umbrella that gives strategic balance to this region conventional war of the way that we have known, is now not a possibility. That's why we find that both nations, in the eyes of neutral observers, have now gone on in unconventional ways of pursuing their political objectives. We blame Indians for what they do in Balochistan, FATA, KPK and Karachi, and correspondingly, Indians blame us for what has happened in Kashmir and Mumbai. So there is a whole history of defining this new paradigm of proxy engagement on both sides. That's how India-Pakistan equations look like today. Obviously this needs to be changed.
In my opinion, to move forward, you need to change the paradigm of issues that you get engaged on. For example, if you fix your engagement on Siachen, Sir Creek, Kashmir, terrorism etc, you will only talk against each other, you will talk at each other, but you never talk with each other. If you want to talk with each other in more cooperative ways then you need to replace these issues with more cooperative issues which can be; for example, caring for a common water source, which is the five rivers controlled through the Indus Water Treaty, and the glaciers which feed these rivers; resolving Siachen dispute, looking for options on Kashmir in a way that is acceptable to both sides, talking for methods of poverty alleviation, looking at reduction of diseases in both regions. We need to discover a common methodology to deal with issues which are common and which can foster cooperative approaches. For this though mindsets need to change in India. Mindsets have changed in Pakistan. But I don't see this happening very quickly in India, especially with Mr. Modi coming in.
Coming to two front scenario, I don't think India will have the capacity and ability to go over Pakistan and try to be a source of concern for Pakistan while being in Afghanistan. We need to look at our border control with adjacent regions, especially Afghanistan, and improve them. Secondly if we maintain good relations with Afghanistan we should being neighbours that will deny the Indians the opportunity to cause mischief from there. Even in our current situation of fighting internally against terrorism, their facilitated unrest in Balochistan and other areas has not caused the state to unravel, I therefore don't see any greater Indian capacity or ability to do much damage to Pakistan. As a strong and resilient nation, we should try to ensure that these things don't impact us.
Q. Being an Air Force officer, how do you view capabilities of Indian Air Force, its likely role in the Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) and suggested counter measures?
Answer: When nations know that they can't fight a regular war then they will resort to alternate strategies. A nation as large as India with huge Armed Forces, if it resorts to a strategy like Cold Start, it will remain a defeatist application without any hinged political objective. It might allow Indian forces penetration of ten to fifteen kilometers depending upon the area, but is unlikely to provide strategic dividends. Every nation goes to war or imposes force with clear political objectives but what shall India gain after occupying shallow depths, if at all. Pakistan could react similarly. I do not see much operational sense in resorting to CSD. It is defeatist way of applying force. It is not how nations should apply military force.
Armed forces are meant to provide you the capability to support your politico-military objectives. The Indian Navy may have a political objective of dominating the Indian Ocean, but the Pakistani Navy has no such matching political objective to pursue. Both Navies are therefore structured accordingly. Armed forces are sized, trained and organized to deliver their specific politico-military goals. Similarly our Air Force has a specific role to play. For that role, it has been trained, equipped and resourced. Indian Air Force (IAF) has its own objectives. No doubt that IAF has made some significant addition to their capacity and capability in last ten to fifteen years. India for the last five years is the largest buyer of military hardware and equipment all over the world. Indian Defence Budget is more than the total budget of Pakistan. Their goals and objectives are different from those of Pakistan and they structure their forces thus.
Q. Your comments on Indo-US Strategic Partnership and its impact on regional stability?
Answer: USA has been trying to woo India for strategic partnership for a long time. India now has liquidity (money) available to them. This money drives everyone in the world. The Chinese have the biggest amount of cash available to them. This is the reason that US, despite how competitive they feel with China, have closest economic relations with them. They are not going to go to war with China simply because of the reason that they get loans and investments from them. Same is the case with India. Americans have been trying to attract Indians by offering them fighters, transport aeroplanes, artillery pieces etc. Indians have been smart in a way that they have kept Americans at a distance and have also retained their relationship with Russians. Because still 90% of Indian military inventory is Russian based and they need relations with them for sustainability of their equipment. Indo-US Nuclear Deal is of much greater concern to us. Because by striking this deal, US has granted a de-jure acceptability to India as a nuclear nation with options to trade in nuclear materials with many countries of the world which form part of Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG). Although both India and Pakistan have strategic and nuclear balance, but implicit acceptance of India as a legitimate nuclear power while denying the same to Pakistan is a matter of concern to us.
Dynamics are changing world over. The relationships are becoming much more realistic. What nations need, determines their relationship with the other states. We should not be shy of accepting the fact that while India will have much greater circle of friends, Pakistan must work equally hard to have a similar circle of friends. There is no exclusivity in relationships between countries in international politics. If Russians, Americans and Chinese happen to be friends of India, they can also be friends of Pakistan. Since the Cold War days are over, the world is no more a neat division of sides. Relationships now are much more inclusive.
Q. Russia and China are among two important poles in the emerging multi-polar world, and, terrorism is an important concern for both the countries. How would these two countries be taking position on issues of terrorism in post-2014 years particularly if Afghanistan and its bordering areas are not secured and used by militant forces?
Answer: As we are threatened by terrorism, so is the a universal concern regarding militancy as long as civilizational sensitivities, civilizational proclivities, civilizational deprivations continue to drive young people of Islam into the fold of militancy and terror. It may not only be that it is only Islamic terrorism that is going to become a factor, there will be number of other factors such as Hindu chauvinism. That is shaping itself as the next threat as far our region is concerned. Unless India has capacity to curtail and cap the sentiment of Hindu nationalism we may find ourselves into an even bigger conundrum. US President George Bush used the word of Crusade after incident of 9/11. Even in Europe, an insane person opened fire on so many people for being Muslims. China has a problem in Xinjiang, Russia has a problem with Chechnya, USA has a problem with Al-Qaeda, India has currently many problems like Kashmir and the Naxalites?
So the entire world would continue to be susceptible and concerned about terrorism and that is why China and Russia will also be equally involved. This is why there is a need for much more cooperative mechanisms in the world to handle terrorism. At the regional level if India itself wants to avoid being targeted by this kind of sentiments then it needs to become partners with Pakistan to fight this menace. Similarly rest of the countries including China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asian countries need to work together. Central Asian countries are also home to many insurgent movements. This is actually a transitional point in history which needs to be better managed with much more cooperation at international level.
Q. If we critically analyze the recent developments particularly in few important Muslim countries, the Muslim World seems drifting to an Intra-civilizational Clash on sectarian fault lines. How do you see this threat overall and also with reference to Pakistan?
Answer: There are two triggers of sectarianism that have impacted Pakistan, region and the Islamic world. First is the Arab-Israel problem that has gradually gravitated to a point where Israel seems to be in continuous hostility with Muslim world, essentially with Hamas in Palestine and Hizb Ullah in Lebanon. What does it do? It generates sentiment in Syria, which then generates sentiments in Iran. There is thus Shia sensitivity triggered around a geopolitical issue related to Israel. This hypes Shiaism; see what happened in Iraq when Saddam left; Kuwait too has a large proportion of Shia population; the Syrian crisis too has a large Shia overhang. There is also a parallel strain called Wahabi Islam. How? After 1979 when Pakistan became part of war against Russia, the money came from few friendly countries. These countries have particularly been exporting funds; and therefore their religious sentiment or religious thought of their specific way of looking at Islam.
These two strains or two triggers have given cause for this chasm to be more prominently seen and therefore exploited by people. Anyone who wants to weaken Islam will exploit these two areas and will feed either of the two sects to create differences. This to me will be ultimate disaster for the Muslims and religion of Islam. There is a need for Muslim scholars to come forward and keep people united and clearly declare their abhorrence for violent means.
Q. What measures we need to adopt as a state and society to harness violent sectarianism in Pakistan?
Answer: As long as people have shared stakes in the well being of a society, people will care for their society. A stable society will foster a stable state. If people know that their tomorrow is attached with progress of the state, and the future of their children is related with well being of the state, they will protect it. This package of stakes includes justice system, administration, governance, economy; which if provided to the individuals will make this society strong.
But this well being can't be achieved through talks, lectures or promises alone. It needs practical measures to ensure committed governance, able administration, rule of law and merit. Narratives are never coined and forced down the throats. Stable and progressive societies evolve their own narratives which become a binding force for a shared hope and a common future. A hope for our tomorrow being better than our today is the key to societal stability and success.
Q. How do you view absence or presence of efficient governance, poverty, and social injustices in broader context of tackling violence and ensuring peace in the society?
Answer: As I said earlier, hope is the key to success to address all issues. People lose hope due to lack of governance, mal administration, lack of justice, absence of law and order. The nation gets united, not by replacing paradigms and replacing narratives; it will become united by making people stake holders in the system for common benefit to all. This strategy will eliminate 80% problems of Pakistan. The politicians must lead this nation better than what they have exhibited