Cover Story

Years of Pride

From a corporate leader to a senior bureaucrat, the transformation was tough for Tariq Ikram, who came from being the managing director of Reckitt & Colman to assuming the job of Chairman, Export Promotion Bureau during President Musharraf’s tenure.

By Tariq Ikram | August 2022

I am proud to have been a member of his team from 1st of January of 2000 to 2008, a few months before he left. A most unforgettable learning experience of my 77 years of existence. I thank Allah for protecting me during these eight years and allowing me to leave the government not only moving the exports needle from less than 8 billion to over 19 Bn, a 147% increase but also unscathed by political, or financial slander, true or false. My two guiding principles have been that ‘when in doubt do what is right’ and that one needs to be not only above board but ‘seen’ to be above board, financially and intellectually. Deep down, we all know what’s wrong or right. May Allah help and guide those for whom a ‘wrong’ appears ‘right’.

Naeem Tahir

Pervez Musharraf was a remarkably courageous and honest President of Pakistan. He truly followed his slogan "Sab se pehley Pakistan".

He paid off IMF to ensure Pakistan's economic independance. He promoted the 'Soft Image' of Pakistan against aggressive anti Pakistan propaganda.

He supported art and culture to remind the world of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Pervez Musharraf was large hearted. He believed the tricky politicions in good faith and sufferred.

But in the battlefield he was a commander who would put his life in danger to save his companions A known example is his risking his life to save a sepoy from a burning tank.

He controlled the economy. The dollar was valued at 68 ruppees and reserves at a safe level. He supported speedy cinstruction of dams as key to the country's future wellfare.

He should have continued to lead the country.

I worked with him and experienced his simplicity and human nature. At a dinner, my driver missed his dinner. As soon as he came to know, he personally walked to my car ,contacted the driver and arranged his dinner.

Pervez Musharaf is a man of great human and leadership qualities.

We wish him good health.

I didn’t know Pervez Musharraf in any depth before joining the government. I had had, just one, rather bitter interaction with him in the GHQ Rawalpindi in the late 90s. I was then the CEO of Reckitt & Colman and he was the Army Chief. I had contested the Army Welfare Trust’s manufacture of Paracetamol. He asked me to make a presentation on the subject. Perhaps he remembered his remarks on my presentation, “this is the best presentation I’ve seen in my life”.

The objective of national leadership is to provide socio-economic growth and good and fair governance. Achieving this in developing countries is a matter of decades so PM’s period remained short of a utopian status of governance. Having said that the progress achieved in just eight years was “unbelievable”. These were the words, an American leading businessman, murmured in my ear, sitting in the audience in the USA, when PM was outlining Pakistan’s progress in a short period of 3 years (till then) under very trying circumstances.

I will review PM’s period, from the perspective of the impact of his Visionary capabilities to the strategic; implementation and results thereof. Within this spectrum, his directing and guiding financial management, man-management, Pakistan’s brand management and internal control, including integrity. My examples will be more of the less known matters, and those based on my personal experiences or those narrated directly to me by PM. I will acknowledge and accept at the outset that readers may find my content debatable. But that’s what I felt.

As a student of management my definition of leadership is winning ‘minds and hearts’ for a cause of your team. How you do this is by leveraging the traits of a leader like charisma, vision, articulation, boldness, decisiveness, empathy, etc. PM won minds and hearts. He won minds through sheer competence that he had or acquired and hearts through his sincerity of affection and care for persons in his team. To top it all, he had personality and charisma and such a friendly and informal interaction that one felt like blindly following his views. PM was perhaps not a visionary of the likes of Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King or Qaid e Azam or Dr Allama Iqbal but, he had this amazing capability to assimilate information from events and people, connect the dots, prioritise and establish clear short medium and long-term goals and the way forward. Once this was irm in his mind, he was an equally amazing strategist. He could sift through ‘chaff’ and reach the ‘grain’ quickly. His clarity of strategy and way forward along with an amazing memory for facts and figures resulted in a high level of decisiveness. Being a military commando, he felt that once a decision had been taken and agreed and with sincere and competent persons heading Ministries and Divisions, it will get done efficiently. In most cases this was true but at times his lacking in follow-up, trust in people, limited the delivery. This often angered him, but his extreme emotional resilience ensured his view of ‘the glass half full’, hoping for speedy corrective action. In case of any failure, he was bold to take it on his own chin. I cannot remember him blaming anyone and always owning results of his leadership. His empathy for his team and people at large was exemplary. Coupled with his oratory abilities, interest in music, art and culture, he won the minds and hearts of almost anyone he met locally and internationally. The following situations and incidents will resonate this.

Read More