U-Turn in Decision Making

Leaders must have the ability to be flexible and to change their plans to match the reality of the emerging situation, domestic and foreign. They must be capable of embracing change and treating uncertainty and ambiguity as the new norm otherwise the nation will face problems.

Posted on 12/3/18
By Ikram Sehgal | Via ViewsWeek
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing criticism from the opposition for his stance on leadership and U-turn. (Photo via insaf.pk)

The recent controversy being generated about “U-turn” is potently childish. Accusing the government (of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan) of “U-turns” is not only unfortunate but absurd. Without fully understanding the meaning of the term, the Opposition is misusing it to castigate Imran Khan. Aided and abetted in this by a section of the media on their payroll, the Opposition disapproves by vociferously criticizing anything and everything that is being done by the PTI. This is, unfortunately, opposition for opposition’s sake!  National interest (and the future of a healthy democracy) requires objectivity, we must differentiate between the negative aspect of a U-Turn and decision changed to cope with the existing situation and circumstances. Without flexibility in the decision-making process, if circumstances change, one can and will get into multiple problems. Compromises must be made according to the changing situation so that potential disaster can be averted.  We cannot stick to a decision made as a matter of ego.  That is what Imran Khan meant when he talked about both Napoleon and Hitler trying to take on the Russian winter in spite of unanimous contrary advice from their generals.


The present woes of the country are not of PTI’s making, it is an unfortunate legacy gifted to the nation over several years of corruption and mis-governance by our previous rulers. When the PTI took over the government the country was perched on a precipice of the economic disaster of enormous proportions, almost all monetary indexes were tottering on a free fall. Why not ask the Caretaker Govt to give a full report of the economic situation the country was facing? Interesting to hear what Ms. Shamshad Akhtar, the Caretaker Finance Minister, and former Governor SBP, has to say.  While this mess will not be easy to clear up, Imran Khan has succeeded in kindling some hope among the population, particularly the common man, who yearns for a better life and be able to change his life.


Going against his previous stance of never seeking monetary assistance from outside sources, Imran Khan did make a U-turn in the country’s interest. He put his principles and reservations aside while approaching staunch friends, China, and Saudi Arabia, for bridging aid to tide the economic crisis.  Instead of relying on conditional aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the options available in the national interest made the best economic sense for Pakistan. Not a “U-turn’ made haphazardly by any stretch of the imagination, yet those rabidly anti-PTI had a field day spreading negative propaganda. If anything, Imran Khan must be congratulated for taking a tidy and wise decision, what are friends for if one cannot go to them in times of crisis?  What really do the Opposition want, the masses to continue suffering while they go off to stay in their luxury apartments in Dubai and London while taking strolls in Hyde Park?


Leaders must have the ability to be flexible and to change their plans to match the reality of the emerging situation, domestic and foreign. They must be capable of embracing change and treating uncertainty and ambiguity as the new norm otherwise the nation will face problems. Imran Khan has shown he has the ability to look past the events of today and into the possibilities of tomorrow and visualize new ideas on what needs to be done for the benefit of the people and the nation. Politics being the art of compromise everyone changes their stance in politics. Compromises in the national interest is what the PM has been doing, proving himself to be flexible and capable of adapting to circumstances. How many politicians the world over have remained steadfast on each and every promise made? PM Imran Khan is being hounded simply because he had the courage of calling the changes in decision-making a U-turn in the supreme interest of the people.  Imran Khan is right when he says, “Real leaders should be ready to take U-turns,” to be effective, he has thus been flexible despite the Opposition anti-govt propaganda and tirade thereof.


The people see in Imran, perhaps for the first time after the passing away of our founding fathers, a leader worthy of their trust, one who appears to be truly honest, whose integrity is above board and one who is free from greed. Those criticizing Imran Khan are being highly unfair, fearing accountability for their money misdeeds they have a vested interest in doing so and will continue to do so. The PM is continually assessing progress and learning from experience to make necessary revisions in strategies and plans. Is taking alternate strategies and adapting to circumstances is wrong particularly in the situation Pakistan finds itself in today because of the excesses and inadequacies of our past governments?


The writer is a defense and security analyst.

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