Abandoned ship

Abandoned ship

Maritime tradition dictates that the captain of a sinking ship be the very last man to leave the vessel. In many cases, the captain drowns with the stricken ship. One hundred years ago, Captain Edward John Smith of RMS Titanic went down with the doomed luxury liner in the North Atlantic Ocean when it sank on April 14-15, 1912. I would have used the example of HMS Birkenhead here, but then I could be accused of hinting at “the military.”



A century after Titanic, a ship of state is in grave trouble, but there’s no one there to man the bridge. Pakistan is once again being tossed about in choppy seas. It is fast taking in water but, with no one at the helm, it cannot be steered clear of the dangers. Its captains usually abandon ship to make sure they don’t sink with it. These days every time a grim development takes place in Pakistan, such as the unprecedented floods of summer 2010, our leadership jumps into a lifeboat of excuses-for example, an “important” trip to some foreign land, or lands (i.e., personal junket, with family and close friends in tow), or “ill health” – the ship be damned.



President Zardari jumped into the “ill-health” lifeboat during the “memo exposure” storm, and then, only last week, the-wedding-of-a-friend’s-son was his lifeboat. during the possible-coup crisis. He decided to leave the country in mid-crisis to attend a wedding during what is seen as the worst display of tension between the civilian government and the military since Oct 12, 1999.



However, foreign visits, personal and “official,” are not reserved for the president and prime minister of Pakistan. Even opposition leaders, namely, the Sharif brothers, have been known to leave the country at the most critical of times. And this despite the fact that Nawaz Sharif, the one who was overthrown on that fateful date, is a potential captain. It is in times of trouble that a country really needs its leaders-both actual and potential. Unlike our own “leaders,” however, true leaders not only lead from the front, they’re first of all there to see the storm through.



Other leaders cancel or cut short foreign visits crisis in times of crisis and vacations. We read of Western leaders immediately cancelling vacations, even official visits abroad, to deal with something important suddenly coming up. In fact, one of the examples of this was this right next door: President Karzai of Afghanistan cut short his visit to the UK in December after twin attacks killed at least 58 people in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif. He could have continued with his trip: after all, his country is no stranger to this kind of violence. But those are leaders who, really concerned about their countries, want to be at the helm to steer the ship.



No wonder there is little waiting viewership when our own prime minister announces that he will address the nation (and doesn’t). This is probably because the intended audience are aware that since he will have nothing of substance to say in his address, he will just keep repeating himself. As for the president, he has played it safe on that front and has yet to face the nation in a presidential address. According to media reports last week, a senior member of the PPP explained that the president is “stubborn and headstrong with a strong sense of street politics, and wants to go down in history as the man who worked harder than any other to promote civilian rule in Pakistan and loosen the military’s hold on power.”



So does Pakistan need the Birkenhead drill?

Lubna Jerar Naqvi

The writer is a senior journalist and writes regularly on human rights and women issues with special focus on social media. She tweets @raiseqalam

  • Akif Noor

    I feel angry as well sorry for this nation as it’s coping with Mr 10% which might have become Mr 20% over the years, who knows….! I would love to construe Iqbal ideology which states that even GOD doesn’t change their circumstances who don’t strive for a change. Another quandary in Pakistan is that, politics is a favorite child of a few families (one can count them on fingers), people want their children to learn and then earn just for living but not for pride. It’s about time that young people from all walks of life present themselves and steer this ship out of this tornado. Pakistan has given us everything (can’t count…!) and i believe it’s our time to give Pakistan something before we leave this world… Long Live Pakistan and Pakistani People..

  • Mabob

    Place him in the right place as he has been busy in drilling holes in the sinking ship.

  • Asghar

    Be assured the People! Zardari will not be the last to leave the ship, in fact he will be the first to leave. In any case he has no stakes in the ship. He has many ships around waiting. It is for the people of Pakistan to decide whether they can afford to keep such a person as captain of their ship who will be first to leave


    Lubna Naqvi writes — “A century after Titanic, a ship of state is in grave trouble, but there’s no one there to man the bridge. Pakistan is once again being tossed about in choppy seas.”

    A century after Titanic? — only 4 years after Musharraf’s Titanic sank — post thousands of lawyers jailed — the Highest Justice of the highest court with his entire family of wife and children unceremoniously thrown into house arrest, his family manhandled, his daughter prevented by the might army to go to school by the Mighty Musharraf minions – La Style Taliban?

    Only 4 years after that collision with the Yearning for the Democracy Iceberg that broke and sank the Musharraf’s Titanic — another Khaki Titanic is being made afloat by the same MM minions — to pass through the tacky festooned Arch of the Memogate — this time captained by the relieved justice released from the house arrest?

    La syndrome Stockholm?

    Well if I sound a little too poetic — let me translate the allegorical poem into harsh prose.

    This time again the Democracy Iceberg will hit the slow version of the same Titanic as it did in 2008 — Memogate or no Memogate — NRO or no NRO.

    Because Pakistan and the World is sick and tired of being DESTABILIZED by the very same unelected helmsmen hijacking the Pakistani creaking ship into disaster every 5 years to 10 years for the past 30 years of Pakistan’s 64 years existence.

    Not the Bloody Civilians.

  • Nanaabboo

    - you are some 64 years too late, Ms. Lubna

  • nvid

    agreed with saeed… xcelant blog

  • Hssnkadri

    u know the fact is?its easy for any chaar so bees leader like gilani or zardari to rise up in parlaiment n give a passionate speech but when u hear the poor oppressed pakistani on the street man they are giving bud duas to these enemies of humanity n pakistan as they say?they dont even have enough money to pay for their high electricity bills when more than half the day there is no electricity in pakistan?while these dis honest leaders of pak throw out lavish red carpet welcome to americans n british slave masters n feed them dum biryaanis imported from india through ustad rahat ali khans?n then jet off to dubai to feast on lamb shanks n shwermas at so called wedding parties?this is it self a crime?

  • Yousaf

    We need the leader like Shaheed Bibi & Shaheed Baba, who had the capabilities of leadership, but no one give respect them as they are? If we promoted leader like Imran & other through media than more accidental leaders will emerged. i thinked if all the institutions of the country strengthen the democracy then we will be able to solve our perople problems, other wise we will suffer more? we should not follows the exemple of others, we have our own example if we study it throughly.


  • Mehtab Ahmad

    There could not be a strict rule that the captain of a sinking ship will be the last to abandon it, however, conventionally this is followed. In our society we do not have any convention or ethics. We have been listening these sentences from our ruling elite, whoever, they are:-

    ” we follow constitution”. “we will defeat conspiracies against the democracy” etc etc. they never talked about democratic norms, ethics/conventions. They are just befooling us, ruling us and looting us.

  • Hashimuhf

    i am sindhi and feeling that Mr. Zardari is best for Sindh but fair for pakistan. what he delivered to Sindh? no more he is making us foolish and earning for himself only. his ppp federal and provincial ministers are running corruption shops in all over sindh. he and his party peoples are anti merit. the contractual staff in various departments of Sindh provinces is still not regularized instead of promises by the government. but baton charging on Lady health workers, Engineers of NPIW, Doctors and Teachers is the strong and interested hobby of the president lead ppp government. if will remove from any corner we dont feel any hesitation because he and his ppp company is trying to make foolish us. but here one thing i feel that all punjab based persons and media is not bearing him because he is so called sindh. this attitude is every time condemn.

  • Sohaib

    disappointing to see Karazai being quoted as exemplary leader ! i fail to understand why we confuse symbolic statements with physical realities , true that Maritime tradition ask for Captain to stay on physically but neither our country is a ship (physically as such!) nor President is authorized chief executive , it should be PM if you realize. And PPP team is NOT running away , that job suits someone else. If they’re fighting for Civilian rule and they become martyrs in the fight then we should honor them as martyrs rather than shouting they took the martyrdom path by themselves , even Imam Hussain knew he’s gonna be martyred and he opted martyrdom path by himself. o never mind unless you’re man of principle. Mistakes happen by every person , we should see the motto of party and the intentions of people. Again said to see claiming someone else illness was an excuse , assume similar thing happening to your near-ones and others saying he’s making an excuse.

  • Mehmoona64

    i think the correct metaphor would be ”rats” not ”captain”…rats always leave the sinkig ships..aka rats zardari and nawaz sharif

  • Suroor Zafar

    very nice Blog…

  • M.Saeed

    Francesco Schettino, Captain of the sinking luxury cruise-ship Costa Concordia of Italy, is currently under arrest for abandoning his ship and running ashore for his own life without doing anything for saving the marooned passenger on board. He faces possible charges of manslaughter for causing death of some passengers.

    Compare Zardari, the man at helm of the nation sinking in hot waters. On every slightest fear of tilt, he had just rushed abroad in anticipation of turmoil, as stated in the above blog. What a “Nakhuda” of the bewildered nation in crises!

  • http://openid.aol.com/saleem231 akhtar saleem

    Zardari will never stay in Pakistan, if he believes that his government is going. He is scared of being prosecuted which i believe he and most of his cabinet should be prosecuted.

  • Javaid akhtar

    Whole of the rulling team in Pakistan should leave the country. They have done enough damage mater in fact they have put the country back 30 years. Once they leave they must not be allowed back.. Javaid

  • Syedfatiq

    I don’t believe he ever got on the ship. He’s got a remote control for this boat.

  • Rahimali

    u need men of honor to go down with the ship. where r u gonna find those in this sunken ship?

  • Izhar Minhas

    Ahtizaz Ahsan has put his reputation and credibility on line by agreeing to represent a so called PM who is the most corrupt & hated person after the criminal gang leader Zardari.

  • Alvi

    Maritime tradition dictates that the captain of a sinking ship be the very last ..
    by Lubna Naqvi
    Sorry to say Zardari will be first …………

  • Ayazulkarim

    Rats are said to be the first to leave a ship that is sinking,
    They are not leaders, they are termites and you know,
    “Termite colonies eat non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

  • Jani Memon

    PPP didnt get 100% votes from Pakistan. Even PPP is not in majority to rule the country but its the policy of PPP leaders that now they are in power. So in pakistan many people who like other parties dont like PPP and PPPpolices. But it is fact Zardari is the brave man he faced allegations and remained in prison 10 years, we can not compare any leader here with Zardari. Why nawaz sharif not fight and stand up infront of mushraf why he run away to saudi and made his party foolish. Do his party leaders dont know that he made agreement with mushraf and King Abdullah order mushraf to send nawaz to saudi. We know Rafiq harrirri Ex PM of Lebnon and son of Sad Al Harrirri came to Pakistan in Saudi Airline special plane and he took Shareef family to saudi arabia and Nawaz Sharif lived 10 years in palace as Saudi Arab guest. Are you people dont know these stories. Why not media telecast these stories. You will not do because you are enemy of zardari only. Because he dont give you commercials thats all. Now dont make people foolish. Zardari is great leader and this is your defeat that he is in President house. This the mandate of People of Pakistan and God will that he is in President house. You can not do any thing.

  • shahid

    spring first get lessons in english , you seem to be an eight grader who falied his english paper , second zardari faced courts because he is corrupt like his dead wife and his dead father in law , Army brought NRO and thus paved way for these crimminals to come in now these crimminals are kicking asses of GHQ . If electricity was surplus in 1992 why did we have 3 hours of loadshedding then , peoples party walay aadhay kanger aadhay dalay

  • faisal

    no mandate and will have nothing for this present Gov……Meray Hamwattan or Satthion Hum ye bhool jatay hain ye duniya haii yahan ki Adalat hamray aagay kuch nahi hum iis Adalat ka saath Kabadi bhi khetay hai ..lakin hum phir ye bhool jatay hain kah jab Allah ki adalat lagay gi tu kya ho gaa …belive me uus waqat Jab Allah ki adalat lagay gi uus waqat Kabadi ki tayari ka Waqat bhi nahi milay ga…or phir punishment hi punishment …yaad Rahay meray Allah ki Grift Boht Mazboot hai ….usss ki dheel ko dheel mat samjhooo … Jab who khechan ga tu phir…..dobara kabhi nahi choray ga……tum Allah ki amanat pe haat daltay ho …….tum socho Allah tumharay saaath kya karay ga.. Roti, Kapra, Makan saab Allah deta hai ….. jo koi app ko ye kahay kah wo app ko roti kapra makan degaaa usay kahooo. kah wo kya waqai main kon haiiii…..roti tu door ki baat insan kisi duray insan ko eik niwala bhi nahi khila sakta …Insan boht mohtaj hai or baibass bhi …Lakin Allah bayniaz hai… lahaza Allah per bharosssa rakha jaiiii

  • Azzaro2003

    100 din choor kay 1 din shah ka dont worry mr zardari we will drag u inshallah in the streets of the same country whose wealth u are planning to use for ur own comfort and enjoyment


    Ayazulkarim sahib says — “Rats are said to be the first to leave a ship that is sinking,…”

    That is because rats have wings and are aviation trained to fly away when the ship starts sinking. You may think they are not leaders — but they think they are — that’s why they descend upon the ship every 5 to 9 years to make holes in the ship till it begins to sink.