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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2401

Double-Faced Zardari!

By Adnan Gill

What do you call a politician who doesn’t double-cross or lie at your face? A voter. But Asif Ali Zardari (Benazir Bhutto, BB’s widower) is neither. He is plain and simple, an opportunist. An opportunist who doesn't live by any principle or creed; he does whatever it takes to extinguish his eternal greed.

If there was ever a need to doubt Zardari’s double-faced nature, Zardari’s stellar performance on Dr. Shahid Masood’s ‘Meray Mutabik’ show rudely jolted our short memories out of deep slumber.

In no ambiguous terms, Zardari about-faced on virtually every promise he made after he anointed himself to be Pakistan People's Party (PPP) co-Chairperson. Maybe it was his inferiority complex or maybe it was his ingenuous stride to come out of his wife’s shadow (some call it, the ‘Hillary Syndrome’); on Meray Mutabik he laid his cards in wide public view. It wasn’t a mistake. It was a very well thought-out and calculated move.

He showed his hand, because he was being cornered by the Nawaz Sharif’s party, the PML-N, hence Zardari decided to fire a warning shot. PML-N is betting their political fortunes on the restoration of the deposed judiciary. Zardari and his fellow beneficiaries of the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), like Rehman Mali, Salman Farooq, Jahangir Badr, Malik Mushtaq Awan and Naveed Qamar, know restoration of the deposed judiciary will mean loss of billions of dollars and jail time. So they decided to go on offensive to put the PML-N on the defensive by publically breaking their promises. Their hope was to scare Nawaz Shrief to a point where he will open up to a compromise on the judges’ issue. The envisioned compromise would allow the current subservient judiciary to remain intact too. The idea is to bring-in equal number of judges from the current - friendly - judiciary to neutralize the simple majority of the deposed judiciary. Which means repealing the much cherished NRO will have the same odds of succeeding as a snowflake in hell.

On Meray Mutabik, Zardari arrogantly started with boasting how he voluntarily visited the graves of his adversaries. Apparently, he was trying to give an impression that he was starting the healing and reconciliation process. But later on in the show, he barely left any doubt in anybody's mind that he is only interested in his own preservation. Had he been genuinely interested in healing the wounded nation, he could have rallied the parliament to give the ordinary Pakistanis too the same relief his wife arranged for him through the infamous NRO deal that she signed with a dictator.

Another way he could have started the healing process is by restoring the deposed judiciary, so the populace could move on to the nation building process under the watchful eyes of an honest and neutral judiciary. While in their spare time, the parliament could have debated on a judiciary package.

Regrettably, he chose to openly criticize the deposed judges, instead of criticizing those who threw him in the jail and forgot about him. Oddly, as if he did anyone a favor, he took the credit for releasing the judiciary along with their families who were held hostage by the other signatory of the NRO. It’s like President Bush would try to take credit for releasing the Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Dr. Shahid's show reminded us, yet again, how Zardari lives for only Zardari and no one else. Zardari's imperious remarks also made it clear that he considers PPP chairmanship as his God-given right.

Such presumptuous attitude must have raised a few eyebrows within his own party too. He claimed, PPP was a democratic party, but then almost simultaneously, he insisted that by right he could have become the Prime Minister. What right? Which Democratic Party was he boasting about? He grabbed the power by producing a handwritten (so-called) living-will of BB, according to which BB allegedly passed the crown to Zardari and his son. If we didn't know any better, a system in which power is unilaterally transferred within the family, is called a Monarchy.

His arrogance knew no bounds. He didn't waste a moment to claim that it was he who brought Dr. Shahid back on TV. He also credited himself for winning more seats for his party then PML-N. Like his wife's lifelong work and then her assassination, and most importantly lifelong sacrifices of party workers had nothing to do with the votes PPP received. It was if he didn’t know when to stop shooting his feet off, he disappointed many when he nonchalantly dismissed any chance of giving even a cursory look into Dr. A.Q. Khan’s freedom.

But what was really disturbing was his disdain for the deposed judiciary and anyone associated to the cause of restoration of judiciary. He attacked Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan for taking up the cause of Lawyers Movement and mocked him for not running for elections under a dictator. His moral bankruptcy became evident when he insisted the mandate given to him was for the provision of ‘food, clothing and shelter,’ and not for the restoration of judges. To begin with, who gave any mandate to Zardari? The mandate was given to BB and PPP; he only rushed to grab the coveted PPP chairmanship position. It was nothing short of amusing to see a person, who remained gravely ill for the better part of a decade, was miraculously cured after his wife's assassination, only to pose for the cameras with a wide smile on his face. Second, BB is on record for taking up the cause restoration of judges.

Could it have been precisely such an appalling behavior of Zardari for which BB had put him on a short leash? His about-face on literally every promise his wife and his party made served as nothing short of a rude reminder of Zardari’s duplicity. His amateurish escapades’ are hardly a matter of pride for his family or his wife's lifelong struggles. It is also hardly a matter of surprise, why he gets along so well and is doing his best to save a dictator.

But what his arrogance keeps him from realizing is, regardless of what he wants to believe, it will be the PML-N that will have the last laugh, because they read the nation’s pulse correctly. Justly or unjustly, the populaces have developed sympathy for the Lawyers’ Cause, i.e. restoration of pre-November 3rd judiciary. Anyone who will support this cause will be generously rewarded, while anyone who will even dare to impede the restoration will be unceremoniously booted out. Obviously, Zardari believes otherwise. It is gamble that will most likely write obituary of Zardari’s political carrier.

Crux of Zardari’s duplicity is his lust for wealth, fame, power, and above all, for the preservation of the all-mighty NRO.

- Asian Tribune -

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