off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Mental Health of
Pakistani political leadership


It was somewhere in the 80s that when Lt. Gen. M.A.Z. Mohyuddin was the Executive Director of Pakistan Medical Research Council, I went to see him in his office at Mayo Hospital, Lahore. General Sahib was in a meeting and I was told to wait for some time. 

There I saw another young man sitting waiting to see Gen. Mohyuddin. On enquiry he told me that he was a consultant psychiatrist and had come back to Pakistan after having completed his training in UK. Now he was looking for a job and he had come to see the PMRC chairman in this connection. I asked him the next question, “Have you come back for good or still there was a possibility that if he failed to find a suitable job and get settled, he will return to UK”. His answer was he wishes to serve in Pakistan. Then I asked him, are you married to which he said, yes. Then he asked me why I had asked him this last question? I said let us forget if for the time being but being an intelligent person, he got the message. This was Dr. Saad Bashir Malik who has just retired as Professor and Head of the Dept. of Psychiatry or Behavioural Sciences as it is called these days, from Allama Iqbal Medical College, Jinnah Hospital, Lahore. He has now joined Shalamar Medical and Dental College, Lahore.
Prof. Saad Bashir Malik is a very quiet person who does not believe in pomp and show and is known as a mental healthcare professional who practices ethical psychiatry. We became friends and many a times I found him aloof from the medical politics practiced by the mental healthcare professionals. He even often remained aloof from the platform of Pakistan Psychiatric Society as he did not like the way it was being run and managed by some professional leaders who are infected with materialistic virus. However, he did attend some of the PPS meetings to participate in the scientific programme. I remember once we are attending the Pakistan Psychiatric Society meeting in Abbottabad. He was sitting with me on the dinner table. The organizers presented shields to almost every faculty member to please them but when his name was called, he kept sitting, refused to go and receive the mementoe despite repeated calls. He was of the view that what have I done to deserve that and when these mementoes are distributed at such a massive scale, it also loses its importance and he was absolutely right. That is what we see at most of the medical conferences these days. These mementoes or shields should be reserved for a few and there must be some criteria to earn that.
Pakistan has suffered a lot at the hands of selfish, corrupt, disgruntled politicians and that is why many of them have earned the hatred of the public at large. At time one feels that perhaps some of them does need a psychiatric evaluation for their mental health fitness. Prof. Saad Bashir Malik sent me a write up entitled “The Mental Health of Pakistani Politicians: in 2012 which was published in PULSE International in its issue of September 1st. It had an enormous readership. Commenting on the electronic media and TV channels, Prof. Saad Bashir Malik had written that “until recently the sight of politicians battling like snarling baboons on TV Talk Shows was a source of amusement for me, especially after a long day at work. Of late however, this despicable display has not only become a revolting sight but made me seriously think about the mental health of these politicians. Had they been mere stage actors and many are not even good for that, I would not worry too much but these men and women happen to occupy positions where important matters regarding the destiny of the country are discussed. Therefore, their mental health is of crucial importance as their decisions gravely affect the interest of the people they claim to represent”.
“Describing the traits of Pakistani politician, he mentioned Glib and superficial, egocentric, lacking remoarse of guilt, deceitful and manipulative, lacking empathy, having shallow emotions, impulsive, having poor behaviour, lacking sense of responsibility, having a need for excitement and displaying antisocial behaviour.” These traits, Prof. Saad Bashir Malik stated, constitute a list of symptoms used by the psychiatrists to diagnose psychopathic personalities. To become a Pakistani politician, Prof. Saad Bashir Malik wrote that the following recipe is required:
Collect together an ample amount of the following three ingredients:

* Plenty of money
* Plenty of time
* Plenty of power( as feudal lords, rich businessmen or any comparable status)

Mix these together and add the following:
* Exhibit an excessive though false self confidence.
* Loose contact with reality
* Resort to impulsive acts in the guise of “national interest”.

Let the above simmer and finally add a tiny amount of emotional stability and a sprinkle of morality. The Pakistani politician is ready to serve the country”.

There cannot be a better description of our present day political leadership.

I remember once late Prof. M. Rashid Chaudhry gave an interview which was published perhaps in Urdu Digest wherein he had commented that late Mr. Z. A. Bhutto was having a disturbed mental health, that is why he could not take correct political decisions in time and the country had to suffer. I do not recall the exact words but the meaning was the same. While attending the Psychiatric conference held at Quetta Club, during the panel discussion, I referred to this interview of Prof. Rashid Chaudhry and asked, it was of no use talking about the mental health of those politicians who are no more with us. The mantel healthcare professionals will do a great service to the Nation if they can comment on the mental health status of our present political leadership. Panel of experts included eminent psychiatrists from all the four provinces including two psychiatrists serving in the Pakistan Army. This was the time when late General Ziaul Haque was ruling the country. None of the panelists dared to answer the question and it was side tracked. Now even in the current issue of Pulse International (September 1st 2014) Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar former Surgeon General of Pakistan Army has written on “National leaders mental health and fitness”. He has suggested that our present day politicians must be evaluated by foreign experts for their mental health and fitness because they may blame the Pakistani psychiatrists of partiality. He has further suggested that media houses should also get their journalists examined for their mental health because “Utterances and writings of some of the journalists appear very suspicious and they are doing a lot of harm to the Nation by their vicious and poisonous speech both oral and written”.
I will go a step further and suggest that we should also include all those occupying important positions in the government institutions without any exception. If we look at the present situation and political turmoil which some of these disgruntled leaders has created adversely affecting the Pakistan economy, it is extremely essential that the above suggestion coming from an eminent physician and no less than a person who has served as Surgeon General of Pakistan Army should be given a serious thought. Electronic media has lost its credibility and I have stopped watching Television for the last two months because some of the professional blackmailers have joined some of these TV channels as experts and anchorperson that are doing overtime job promoting hatred among different sections of the society, helplessness and hopelessness. If the TV channels are closed, there will be peace in the country. I fully support Freedom of expression and Freedom of the press but this freedom comes with some responsibilities as well. Efforts to have a code of ethics for the print and electronic media in particular have so far failed. Hence, some of these TV channels and disgruntled politicians are doing immense harm to the country. In their presence, we do not need any outside enemy. I still hope that better sense will prevail and every one will get united to save the democratic order in the country. Even a worst democratic set up is thousand times better than military dictatorship. Solution to our problems lies in democracy. Once we have a few continuous elections at regular intervals, the corrupt, disgruntled, dishonest and greedy politicians will get eliminated and we will succeed in having an honest, saner, mature political leadership which will take decisions in the national interest. We desperately need economic development in the country. Economic development is considered as the best contraceptive; it will also check the population growth and create lot of job opportunities. No Government in the world can provide jobs to every citizen but it is the business and industry which can absorb many provided it is allowed to develop and progress. At present any one who is creating hurdles in the economic development of Pakistan, is its greatest enemy. Unfortunately in Pakistan someone who is a failure in every field, becomes a politician, of course there are a few exception. This is one of the reasons for low IQ and low caliber of most of our politicians.{jcomments on}

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