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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

Comparative study of Barack Hussein Obama and Asif Ali Zardari

By Asif Haroon Raja

Election of Barack Hussein Obama as 44th President of USA was as astounding as that of Asif Ali Zardari as 12th President of Pakistan. Obama suffered from serious handicaps of being black and half Muslim, looked down upon by the white Americans. His promise of change catapulted his popularity and gave him a distinct edge over McCain who wanted to pursue flawed policies of Bush.

He is loved by the Afro-Americans, the Hispanics and the Asians settled in USA in particular, and the white Americans have grudgingly reposed confidence in him because of his outstanding qualities. He is an exceptionally good orator and a crowd puller, an entrepreneur, bright and clear headed. He fought his way and captured the most prestigious post after defeating Hilary Clinton and McCain. He was voted to power under the hope that he would bring about radical changes in the American bullying attitude towards weaker nations and to change over from belligerence to conciliation in both tone and action.

They desired of him to rectify the image and prestige of USA that lay in tatters because of George Bush flawed policies. While Obama has become the president of the most powerful country on earth on his own steam, his authority and nuisance value is limited because of several power centres in USA. He cannot possibly annoy white-Americans, American-Jews, Indian-Americans, Israelis, UK, EU and India to please the oppressed Muslim world in general and Palestinians, Kashmiris and Pakistan in particular.

Obama evoked massive support of the people of America since prestige and credibility of USA had been badly bruised by his predecessor and economy had crashed. Obama promised to bring change through 34 explicit measures. He promised to affect a change in foreign policy by opting for moderation, cooperation and rationalism. He promised a new America for the Americans and the world and pledged to defeat Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan; he emphasised economic reconstruction of Afghanistan and non-military solution in Afghanistan. He also promised to provide massive financial assistance to develop FATA and to facilitate resolution of Kashmir dispute.

During his election campaign, Obama had pledged to pursue talks with Iran, Syria and Cuba and North Korea to remove irritants. He promised to close down Iraqi front by 2011 and shift centre of gravity to Afghanistan, crush Al-Qaeda and defeat terrorism. He criticised Bush policy on war on terror and promised to refurbish the flawed Afghan policy by redrawing Afghan strategy in which Pakistan would figure out prominently. He raised hopes of Palestinians assuring them that peace process would be accelerated and a solution found to the lingering conflict. Domestic pressures because of economic meltdown and rising unemployment weighed heavily upon him and hampered his manoeuvrability when dealing with international challenges.

However, on ground so far he has brought little change in domestic and international affairs. Iran, Syria, Cuba and North Korea are still antagonistic of USA. He is yet to make Iraq and Afghanistan peaceful and to find exit strategy from Iraq and Afghanistan where US troops are dying. He has wriggled out of his commitment on Kashmir and has also deleted Kashmir from the assigned mandate of Holbrooke for South Asia. He is faced with daunting challenge of economic meltdown for which senseless war on terror which is fast draining its resources is one of the major causes. It is however still hoped that he proves a much more humane US President than his predecessor. Continuation of drone attacks on Pakistan and pro-Indian stance at the cost of Pakistan are a huge disappointment.

Security of Israel and procurement of oil will continue to remain chief concerns of the current US leadership. Obama Administration has provided no relief to the oppressed Muslims. War on terror continues to be regarded a high priority subject despite open reservations expressed by Nato countries. They do not mind having spent a colossal amount on this futile US war, which has now been converted into Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan wars. Their thirst for blood of Muslims has not quenched and they continue to find new means to suck their blood. Americans have come down from country to groups to non-state actors to fish for all anti-US elements. So intense is their hatred against the Muslims that even global economic meltdown and US economy nose-dive has not bothered them. They have now decided to shift focus of war towards Afghanistan-Pakistan, beef up military strength in that theatre and induct Indian military in Afghanistan and make it a key ally in war on terror. If Obama Administration is sincerely interested in correcting the badly bruised credibility and reputation of USA, it should undertake following measures:

One. Amicably resolve over 62 years old disputes of Palestine and Kashmir, which have fuelled extremism and galvanized resistance forces within the Muslim world. For all these years USA, western world and the UN have sided with the wrongdoers and ignored the cries of the oppressed; it is time they facilitate these two chronic issues justly.

Two. End illegal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq where over 1.5 million people have died and let the people elect their representatives in fair and free elections.

Three. Put an end to arms race and free the world of nuclear and chemical weapons.

Four. Rein in CIA, Mossad, MI-6 and RAW from their meddlesome role in Pakistan, Iran and China.

Five. Restore harmony between different faiths and stop witch-hunt against Islam.

Six. Bridle US insatiable greed to steal oil and energy resources of the third world countries.

Seven. Do away with pro-rich and anti-poor capitalism and introduce a system which ensures equity.

Eight. Introduce a just international order to restore credibility of USA.

Zardari came on the centre stage because of divine intervention. Had Benazir not been assassinated, Zardari would have remained a non-entity. He hopped into presidential chair despite carrying the weight of his corrupt and criminal past and endowed with average qualities. His election was manipulative rather than competitive. His election was rejoiced since the nation had gone through rigours of eight year inglorious rule of Musharraf who had become the most reviled man in the country. Zardari became the most powerful president of an economically impoverished third world country dubbed as one of the most corrupt, most dangerous in the world and ranked 10th among the failed states. The PPP, armed forces, establishment, legislature and the judiciary are subservient to his wishes. Other than PPP and beneficiaries, others loathe him. He started off well with his populous slogan of Pakistan Khappe but within few months of his takeover his image and credibility plunged. His series of irrational statements in the last eighteen months has made him butt of ridicule and impelled common people to start sms war against him.

The PPP under Zardari promised change but has thoroughly disappointed the nation since it is pursuing Musharraf’s flawed policies. Zardari has remained vague and non-committal and failed to give any policy to bring about a healthy change for the better. He backtracked on public agreements and downgraded the spirit of a word of honour. He refused to restore chief justice Iftikhar until he was forced to do so. He has so far not repealed 17th Amendment in constitution or fulfilled the contents of Charter of Democracy. He has converted the parliament into a rubber stamp. He has not made any promise to reform himself since he has all along maintained that he has been a victim of political vendetta.

Zardari has a poor track record while Obama record is clean. Zardari lust for power and wealth is insatiable while Obama has thus far not demonstrated such abnormal streaks of greed. Zardari mental health has been questioned while Obama does not carry any psychic problems. Obama has promised political appointees on merit-based reasons rather than on party loyalty. Zardari has indulged in worst form of nepotism and cronyism. For Obama American interests are dear to him while Zardari jealously guards his self interests and prefers to please his foreign mentors at the cost of national interests.

Had Zardari taken certain critical decisions in time and at his own his standing would have surged high. If Zardari and the PPP are really keen to restore their lost credibility and popularity that has slumped to lowest level, following need to be done.

One. Before the Supreme Court decides to cancel infamous ordinance on NRO, Zardari should get rid of it and clear corruption cases framed against him and other top leaders of PPP through the courts as in the case of Sharif brothers.

Two. Put an end to unbridled corruption.

Three. Introduce austerity through example set by top leaders. Shrink the size of National and Provincial Assemblies and of Federal Cabinet and take other measures to reduce high spending and wastages.

Four. Repeal 17th Amendment and restore supremacy of parliament.

Five. Shift bank accounts from foreign to local banks.

Six. Make judiciary independent and accountability strong and effective.

Seven. Find an amicable solution to load shedding and price hike which has caused immense misery to the people.

Eight. Make appointments on merit and not through personal likes and out of political expediency.

Nine. Cancel probe of Benazir murder by the UN since it has given rise to avoidable doubts. Instead let own agencies trace out the real culprits.

Ten. Stand up to US pressure and make no compromise on national interests.

Eleven. Zardari should dispel impressions through deeds that he is in the grip of Washington and that he is pro-Indian.

- Asian Tribune -

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