Crux of Zardari’s Strategy!
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’s widower) is neither. He is plain and simple, a temporizer.
If there was ever a need to doubt Mr. Zardari’s duplicity, his stellar performance on Dr. Shahid Masood’s ‘Meray Mutabik’ show rudely jolted our short memories out of deep slumber. In no ambiguous terms, Mr. Zardari about-faced on virtually every promise he made since he anointed himself to be the PPP co-Chairperson.
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. In a calculated move, he showed his hand, because he felt he was being cornered by Nawaz Sharif’s party, the PML-N; hence Mr. Zardari decided to fire a warning shot. Mr. Zardari thought he knew PML-N’s weakness. He probably believed PML-N had stuck itself by betting their entire political fortunes on the restoration of the deposed judiciary.
Similarly, PML-N probably believed the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) to be PPP’s Achilles' heel. They calculated, Mr. Zardari and the other beneficiaries of NRO knew restoration of the deposed judiciary will mean loss of billions of dollars and jail time. Nonetheless, by publically breaking their promises, PPP tried preempt PML-N’s advantage by putting them on the defensive. They hoped to scare Nawaz Sharif to a point where he would open up to a compromise on the judges’ issue. The envisioned compromise was, in addition to the restoration of deposed judges, to retain the current judiciary intact too. The idea was to position equal number of friendly judges from the current judiciary to neutralize the simple majority of the deposed judiciary. Which means repealing the much guarded NRO will have the same odds of succeeding as a snowflake in hell.
Mr. Zardari reasoned, more judges were needed, because the population has increased. What he forgot, the job of the superior judiciary is to interpret constitution, to deliberate on the gray areas in laws, and most importantly, to be the last bastion of hope for the disfranchised and the voiceless. Its strength cannot be tied to some sort of population ratio, because usually it doesn't deliberate on day to day mundane cases.
On Meray Mutabik, Mr. Zardari vainly tried to give an impression that he had embarked on the healing and reconciliation mission. He boasted how he voluntarily visited the graves of his adversaries. But later on in the show, he barely left any doubt in anybody's mind that he was 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 the same relief as his wife arranged for him through the infamous NRO that she signed with a dictator. Another way he could have started the healing process was by restoring the deposed judiciary, so the populace could have moved on to the nation building process under the watchful eyes of an honest and neutral judiciary. Meanwhile in their spare time, the parliament could have debated on the so-called judicial package.
However, he chose to openly criticize the deposed judges for his miseries, 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 same President whom he is feverishly trying to protect. It’s like President Bush would try to take credit for releasing the Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
His superciliousness 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 if his wife's lifelong work, her assassination, and most importantly lifelong sacrifices of the 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.
Mr. Zardari's imperious remarks also made it clear that he considers PPP chairmanship to be his God-given right. Such presumptuous attitude must have raised a few eyebrows even 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 alluding to? He grabbed the power by producing a handwritten living-will of BB, according to which BB allegedly passed the crown to Mr. Zardari and his son. If we didn't know any better, such a transfer of power takes place only in a Monarchy.
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 Mr. Zardari? The mandate was given to BB and PPP; he only rushed to grab the coveted Chairmanship. Second, BB is on record for taking up the cause of restoration of judges.
Could it have been precisely for such behavior of Mr. Zardari for which BB had sequestered him to Dubai? His about-face on literally every promise his wife and the party made served as a rude reminder of Mr. Zardari’s duplicity. It was nothing short of amusing to see how a person, who remained gravely ill for the better part of a decade, was miraculously cured right after his wife's assassination, only to pose for the cameras with a wide smile on his face. His amateurish escapades’ could hardly be matters of pride for his family or his wife's lifelong struggles.
Apparently, his pompousness keeps him from realizing, it could be the PML-N that may have the last laugh, because they read the nation’s pulse correctly. Justly or unjustly, the populaces have developed sympathy for the Lawyers’ Movement, i.e. restoration of pre-November 3rd judiciary. In all likelihood, anyone who will support this movement will be generously rewarded, while anyone who will even dare to impede the restoration will be unceremoniously booted out. Obviously, Mr. Zardari is gambling that’s not the case. It is a gamble that will most likely write obituary of his political carrier.
Crux of Zardari’s strategy could be narrowed down to his lasciviousness for wealth, fame, power, and above all, for the preservation of the all-mighty NRO.
- Asian Tribune -