Pakistan needs a leader like Margaret Thatcher

Published: April 9, 2013

She will always remain a global beacon of hope, not only for the women, but for those who face adversity but remain true to their goals and never bow down to unjust demands. PHOTO: REUTERS

She will always remain a global beacon of hope, not only for the women, but for those who face adversity but remain true to their goals and never bow down to unjust demands. PHOTO: REUTERS She will always remain a global beacon of hope, not only for the women, but for those who face adversity but remain true to their goals and never bow down to unjust demands. PHOTO: REUTERS

“If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and would achieve nothing.” Margaret Thatcher.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher embodied these words. To some she was an icon of assertiveness and conviction, to others, she was just a bossy old lady.

Perhaps no other prime minister in the history of Britain has been loved and reviled at the same time as she has been, but that is who Margaret Thatcher was. To judge her on her political and economic beliefs solely would be to overlook her love for her country and her superhuman steadfastness to stick to any cause she believed was right in undertaking. Maybe this is what irks her detractors.

I am not a British national and she wasn’t my prime minister, nor does my country have any happy memories of her (remember her support of Zia’s regime?), so what compels me to write about her?

The simple answer is that our country’s leaders have much to learn from the life of Mrs Thatcher. In fact, below are a few lessons from her life that our next government should take note of and incorporate into its policies:

1) Never shy away from making unpopular decisions:

Margaret Thatcher was never one to shy away from unpopular decisions which she thought were for the greater good of the people. Whether, it was taking on the lethargic and unproductive bureaucratic apparatus or clamping down on the excessive power of unions, she withstood all assaults and intense criticism, and by the time she was forced out of office, she had taken Britain out of near economic collapse to a confident free market economy.

Many of our leaders had a chance to change our economy, make decisions that might have angered us at the time but could have saved our coming generations, but they didn’t. They rode on the wave of massive election wins, with heavy mandates and clear parliamentary majorities, but their love of power held them back from instituting desperately needed reforms, regarding discriminatory laws, land distribution, dam construction and so on.

2) Less government and more power to the people:

In her view the government should not legislate and provide for everything. She made the citizens stakeholders in policies, reduced the size of civil services to spend more money on basic amenities and set strict goals and targets for government agencies to achieve.

And what does our government do?

They increase the number of ministers and cabinet members and place no checks and balances on the funds being used for public services.

Perhaps the incumbent government might want to take a leaf out of Thatcher’s handbook.

3) Come out of our national delusions:

When Margaret Thatcher came into power, Britain was in shambles, it was on the road to irrelevance in the global scenario because it was still latching on to the memories of the once glorious empire. Of course, somebody was needed to shake them out of the resultant torpor and initiate reforms that were taking place in other economies. And she with an iron will and dogged determination achieved them, even though the odds were heavily stacked against her.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said,

“The real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country. And we should never forget that the odds were stacked against her.”

And what is our situation?

We see the world as a menacing scheming, conspiring entity that is out to destroy Pakistan (as the ghairat brigade made us believe). This grand delusion has hampered our path to progress many times. We need a leader of Thatcherian realism to shake us from our collective paranoia induced lethargy and reassert us on the global map.

There will be a time to debate on Thatcher’s policies but now not the time to do so. Now is the time to take notes from her life and works, and integrate them into ours to better ourselves.

She will always remain a global beacon of hope, not only for the women, but for those who face adversity and remain true to their goals and never bow down to unjust demands.

Read more by Jamaluddin here or follow him on Twitter @einsjam



A student of Information Systems Management at Latrobe University, Melbourne. He tweets @Einsjam (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    You are so right…………………………..and no harm in dreaming.Recommend

  • Sa


    Such a badly written and politically inaccurate article! Recommend

  • Saadia

    @SA : why dont you do us a favour and write something then #TrollRecommend

  • Abro

    i concur with the author. Love her or hate her, but Pakistan requires a decisive leader like thatcher, who is not ambigous about policies and who doesn’t go back and forth like our politicians.Recommend

  • aleemi

    Very unique article. Thatcher’s policies were tough but people must remember that it was her free market adventure that paid dividends in the end.

    Health expenditure increased by 60% , house ownership by 22% and 21% of civil services were cut down as a cost saving measure. Pakistan can certainly do with that dont you think ?Recommend

  • Abid P. Khan

    Such a badly written and politically inaccurate article!”

    It is archetypical for the bloggers here (and everywhere else) never bother to have a reality check.

    The @author says:
    To some she was an icon of assertiveness and conviction, to others, she was just a bossy old lady.

    For the country she was a catastrophe. A conservative England became even more conservative. A death knell for the poor and disenfranchised.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    @ Muhammad mamoon.

    That’s the typical Pakistani’s response to any problem facing the country. They have absolutely no idea or clue what the teachings are but they say it anyways, probably make themselves feel better.

    As for the original article, an interesting write up. I wanted to debate her policies but apparently this article is not the place. I was talking to a British colleague of mine (he’s in his late 50s) and he told me that Thatcher implemented the will of the people, unfortunately the people did not realize what was good for them and what was bad.

    Thought provoking is it not? Recommend

  • Saladin

    After the Winter of Discontent, who else was equipped to lead the country through a transformative period. Compare the brit economy of late 70s and early 90’s . You will find out how good Thatcher was.Recommend

  • Genius

    Thought provoking blog. But Pakistani leaders dont have the guts to do anything that goes against the establisment, voters and allies.Recommend

  • Declan

    Fascinating writeup. Bhutto had the chance to become like Thatcher, but she squandered the oppurtunity.Recommend

  • Nadir

    Have you seen all the street parties in the UK celebrating here death! Just cause you saw the movie doesnt make her an inspiration, look through her politics and you will find it goes against all the rhetoric of “hope” and “change” amongst political parties in Pakistan today.Recommend

  • ahmed jamal pirzada

    God forbid that we may ever get a leader lik her.

    restricting government regulations while propagating the market mechanism to be efficient has brought us to the verge of global economic collapse and worse kind of wealth distribution. It is amazing how people overlook the policies and simply get carried away by the personalities.

    while direct government intervention may distort the market, less government regulation and overlooking the possibility of social returns to be greater than private returns (hence under-supplied public goods) is worst that can happen to a country.

    and btw less government does not necessary mean more power to the people. it can very well also mean more power in the hands of few capitalists/banks.

    and indeed Thatcher saved the country just how Cameron is saving it right now – triple dip recession.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    I was hoping that the author would conclude that progressive democracies including Pakistan do not need divisive leaders like the Lady from britain. In fact this is te problem of Pakistan, it needs a leader which unites them. The Lady was everythng but british; always felt boyant in the company of old and young MEN, had no understanding or feelings for working class families, supported capital holding Banks and Business and deprived labour of their livelihood and dignity. She squandered Government assets and gave free ride to Private Industry. The scars of her mismanagement can be.seen in the downfall of British manufacturing base. She is gon to have a state funeral against the backgound of others who are opening bottles of Champagne with the cry, ” the witch is dead”. I am sure the Author does not wish to have such leaders for Pakistan.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • umer

    I hope ppl of pakistan realize that their vote has the real power and bring to power a party who is capable of producing leaders life M.Thacher.

    My vote for PTI.Recommend

  • Sadaf

    Mrs Thatcher was a strong supporter of president Zia so in her own way she did have a hand in Pakistani politics well how did that turn out I wonder?Recommend

  • Pakistani

    I think we had one from 2001 until 2008 as controversial as MT.Recommend

  • Rafi Ka Deewana

    I hate to say this, but India’s Indira Gandhi shared some of Thatcher’s attributes. It was her policy that created divisions in India – Hindu’s vs Sikh’s, for example. She also made the politicians corrupt who would do anything to remain in power. I don’t want any country, Pakistan included, to have a leader like that. Recommend

  • Proletarian

    No, we need a leader like Hugo Chavez, a man who calls for uplift and education of the poor masses, to take them out of religious and nationalist mirages, makes equality and social justice the nation’s ideal challenges the corrupt elite whose only interest was enriching itself.Recommend

  • Abid P. Khan

    “Mrs Thatcher was a strong supporter of president Zia so in her own way she did have a hand in Pakistani politics well how did that turn out I wonder?”

    She had Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator as her house guest. She was sympathetic to the idea of reintroducing capital punishment in England.Recommend

  • A. Khan

    Maggie is loved by the people who benefited from her policies but loathed by those who lost i.e. the blue collar work force. She did transform Britain from a manufacturing to a service based economy. Did she have innate vision that saw the death of manufacturing in the West and its shift to other countries with lower costs of production i.e. China ? Which came first ? Who knows, and there can be books written on this topic and it is the stuff of doctoral thesis.

    Wishing for such a tough and, dare I say, charismatic leader, people should be aware that it can be a double edged sword. I hope the abilities of some parties to run a country and basically, lead, has finally been debunked and people do vote for change. Recommend

  • Carl

    What Pakistan needs is a leader like Kemal Ataturk. Someone who will ruthlessly remove religion from public life and make it a personal matter only.

    As Ataturk said in 1919 “For everything in the world – for civilization, for life, for success – the truest guide is knowledge and science. To seek a guide other than knowledge and science is [a mark of] heedlessness, ignorance and aberration”. Recommend

  • Habiba Younis

    such a politically incorrect post! Recommend

  • Dave Jones

    She made the british economy more productive, well seeing that none of the people who are berating her for her economic policies have actually lived during that time. By the 70s , it was proved that the welfare state envisioned after the second world war had some flaws which had led to too much spending on people who did not want to contribute to the economy in the first place and then arrogant swaggering trade unions fixing prices and wages as they liked, of course this was not to be allowed. And by breaking the backbone of the unions who were led by Scargill, she proved her mettle. It was she who privatized British telecom and paved the way for a competition based economy where We The People had the right to choose. Well, nobody mentions that do they ?Recommend

  • sanctimonius

    Agree with author, without going over her bad policies, how about focusing on the good points?
    But i am afraid that we as a Nation just love to criticize and complain rather than picking out the positives from anything.

    Only IK has the capacity to match Thatcher’s tenacity, conviction and perseverance. And yes ! We really need a leader like that.Recommend

  • ZeePak

    Margaret Thatcher is my role model. R.I.P Thatcher.Recommend

  • Qwarty

    I must commend the author for coming up with such unique and original blogs.

    That being said, I am no big fan of Thatcher, yes she energized the British economy but at a huge social cost. But her brilliant political thinking and patriotism are unquestionable. Pakistan could do with one.Recommend

  • laeeq

    good piece of work rightly said, we need a leader who can be as good as she was for her countryRecommend

  • antanu

    it also points to the fact that to LIBERALS in the subcontinent west is always heaven and it’s subjects are Angeles… how the region is going to progress is anybody’s guess… with people having such inferiority complex.Recommend

  • Xulfjan

    I was in England when she unleashed unabashed capitalism in UK which transformed not just the landscape in UK but also the world. Reaganomics which followed seemed to be inspired by her enthusiasm to curb welfare, unions and taxes. We are reaping the result of that brash capitalism all over the planet now. So we do need a strong leader but who is interested in the well being of the majority and not just of the top 1%.Recommend

  • Daanish W.

    Very vague and naive political analogy. The only (somewhat) sound analogy to be made is the steadfast and decisive nature of Thatcher. Apart from that, point two is a very simplistic and non factual representation of Thatcher’s reduced government policies. Under this analogy, it seems you fail to mention the doubling of Britain’s child poverty rate within her “small government” approach. A free market is not necessarily a fair market. Overall, this analogy was unnecessary as it just doesn’t fit.Recommend

  • A. Khan

    True leaders do not try win popularity contests with schemes like Benazir Income Support or Yellow Cab schemes. They take tough decisions, which though unpopular with some, lead to the betterment of the country in general. Leadership involves vision, loyalty to nation (or country) not to your party, courage and commitment and it certainly more than just pandering to special interest groups and ripping off the country.Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    She was a daughter of a Grocer. No Pakistani politician has very modest roots. Despite being a daughter of a blue colour worker, she endorsed the policies of rich. Pakistan already has politicians like her who are anti poor. Pakistan do not need a leader like her. Pakistan needs a selfless leader like former Indian President Dr Kalam. Recommend

  • Ahmad

    We need to be leader to ourselves first so that we can make better choices and lead democracy. And not follow perverted democracy. The problem lies with us not democracy or these goons in the parliament. Recommend

  • Naya Pakistan

    Interesting that the people of Britain did not realize what was good or them, but your colleague did. Recommend

  • Sa

    @ Sadia

    Ms. Thatcher is celebrated for introduction of public sector reforms, meant at curtailing public spending and reducing fiscal deficit. She de-layered bureaucracy, broke the power of trade unions by privatizing public sector entities and also gave incentives to the private sector to invest in public services. She rolled back excesses of welfare economy. She was influenced by Hayek, a great defender of classical liberalism, whose ‘Road to serfdom’, although, written in 1940s, became a bestseller in 80s. Public choice theorists Niskanen and Tullock also influenced her policies; they advocated that the size of the public sector needs to be cut back because civil servants indulge in rent-seeking behavior and become an agent of special interest groups at the cost of public interest. The insights given by these economists and political scientists are still relevant and are given consideration by policy makers of the Uk in 2013 too.
    That said, public sector reforms of Thatcher had mixed impact and that is why Tony Blair, a Labour party leader, won landslide in 1997 on the slogan of Third way- he promised to follow a middle ground between, neo-liberalism and Keynesian Economics.
    So, I meant to say in my earlier comment that her achievements should have been qualified in an introductory paragraph. Then she could have been compared with our politicians.Unqualified comparison can mislead readers.
    In my opinion, our role model could be Nelson Mandela. His ability to heal a fractured nation after apartheid is deeply needed in our divided society.Recommend

  • Abid P. Khan

    @Naya Pakistan:
    Interesting that the people of Britain did not realize what was good or them, but your colleague did.”

    However macabre it may appear but can Mr @Pessimist: inform men in the streets of England who are wildly partying at the news of her death, not to do that? Recommend

  • The Khan-Waterloo,Ontario

    All she did was bring about a casino styled capitalism Recommend

  • anwar

    Margaret Thatcher. – Pakistan ?? Why not Churchill or Hitler…?? or even more of Zardari. What we really need less day-DreamerRecommend

  • Raza Mujtaba

    Man! I wonder if I were reading the transcript of the Documentary the other night on Sky 1 about Maggy Thatcher- write something original dude don’t just paste here what you hear and see on Sky TV.

    and since I can see that you have pretty much no knowledge of history what so ever- I will take a moment (of joy) to tell you that if she were to be the PM of Pakistan we would have another Kargil, an all out War in Balochistan, rampant Austerity, outrageous taxes (read poll tax), and for sure not to mention Riots on the streets.

    if anything we DO NOT want a PM like her. Recommend

  • Saladin

    Celebrating somebody’s death on the streets only tells you about the moral depravity of the said people.Recommend

  • Abid P. Khan

    “Celebrating somebody’s death on the streets only tells you about the moral depravity of the said people.”

    Why this show of depravity? Any thoughts on that?Recommend

  • Ahsan Raza

    Yes she is a “beloved” Tory legend here in UK.. Song “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead” is hitting top 10, some went further and opened champagne bottles and party in streets (IMO its bit harsh).. some bankers and old Tories are sobbing though..
    Come on dude, she divided British nation, and hit the working people and poor.. We had her un elected version already.. Zia ul Haq…Recommend

  • Rex Minor


    You have a good point, now tell the Turkish political leaders from the ruling religious party who are just about to bury secularism and send the kemalist military brass to turkish prisons for lfe. The sooner Pakistan democracy hold a trial of the military brass who were not able to defend the country but opted for the take over the tasks of civilian administration with military force, the better it will be for te country..

    Rex Minor.Recommend

  • Hydaspes

    Can’t figure out. If she was really that unpopular as others are letting us believe, then how come she won elections after every term, she must have been doing something right, in which the welfare depending slobs might have felt bruised because she didn’t allow them hitching a free ride on the economy.Recommend

  • cynacuse

    Thankless people. She saved Britain from militant labor unions.Recommend

  • anwar.suhail

    Thatcher was a leader Who really made a difference. She was sincere to Britain, never afraid of taking unpopular decision. Indeed she was assertive, determined, equally loved and loathed but could never be ignored. She won 3 general elections hence majority trusted her judgement.
    I wish we had sincere, strong willed like Thatcher, to take this country out from cesspool of corrupts, inept, mediocre politicians.Recommend

  • Yousuf Ali

    You do know that is not popular among the British and South Africans?Recommend

  • Azra Zahid

    We sure do need a leader like her in our country. She was an inspiration !Recommend

  • F

    Pakistan needs citizens ans state like the British. Recommend

  • Kara

    What Thatcher did to Britain was HORRIBLE. All those conveniently concurring with the author must go read what actually happened in Britain. The rich became richer, the poor became poorer. MILK. PRIVATIZATION. NO COMPASSION FOR THE POOR. RING ANY BELLS?Recommend

  • http://Sialkot Abid P. Khan

    “The rich became richer, the poor became poorer. MILK. PRIVATIZATION. NO COMPASSION FOR THE POOR. RING ANY BELLS?”

    And thousands upon thousands lost their means of living, due the policies imposed by this woman. Recommend

  • Ram Sharma

    People seek the “higher being” up in the sky but never bother to look for IT within !
    That is exactly the plight of Pakistan today. Musharaff is walking right within the Pakistanis and instead of grabbing him to lead the brain deads to the Promised land, they are seeking someone like Mrs Thatcher ! Ask the British coal miners how much they long for her decades after she left the throne.Recommend

  • BB

    @ Ram Sharma
    We are done with the army rulers!Recommend

  • Pak Super Power 2030

    Again surprised to read this blog. The politically naivety of the author couldn’t be hidden here! What Ms Thatcher did was not even good for England, forget about her deed and ideals for Pakistan and the outside world. Some of the other commentators on the blog have alluded to it. Political leadership is always indigenous and we have carve out our own leaders, and to create our own form of Mahathir Mohammad or Lincoln and not Thatcher of course. The process of repetitive elections is used as filtration. Now we should filter out those who had enough turns. Any voter in Pakistan who leves his home on the election day to vote for PPP, PMLN, or JUIs or any other PMLQ should just do one favor by not casting his vote. In this filtration process as first step let us rule in PTI, ANP, JI and MQM this time. And rule out all the PMLs, all the versions of JUIs and PPP. Then we will be on the road to filter better and get closer get to our version of great leader or a statesman. Recommend