Defending President Zardari

zardari2

Let the democratic process continue…. A must-read: I.A. Rehman’s article in Dawn, Nov 12, 2009, The Locus of power’

Extract: “All elected prime ministers, from Mr Bhutto to Mr Nawaz Sharif, tried with varying degrees of earnestness, to get rid of the halter around their necks and all of them came to grief. Now that it is possible to think of democratic advancement the reasons for their failure must be thoroughly examined and adequately addressed.”

Below, Defending President Zardari, an article in the Business Recorder, Nov 13, 2009 worth reading all the way through.

by SYED SHAHID HUSAIN

Politicians are all corrupt, civilians are all bloody and useless and the mess the country is in has been created by both. This is the conventional wisdom assiduously instilled in the minds of the people of our proudly independent nuclear armed country.

With the arrival on the scene of private TV channels almost the entire population is particularly conscious of whatever is going on all around us and even a child now understands a rudimentary bit of NRO. In the minds of the people NRO is to be equated with the persona of the President. People love to hate Zardari, primarily for his name, which sounds so much different from what they are used to hear and are firmly of the view that he is very corrupt and therefore unfit to be our president.

They forget that he is a constitutionally elected legitimate leader as against Musharraf and his ilk, who are in breach of Article 6 of the Constitution that prescribes capital punishment, who strike in the shadows of darkness. One also misses the point that the beneficiaries are numberless former civil servants and a naval chief some of whom are enjoying the fruits of ill-gotten wealth in great comfort of their twilight years.

Defending the President is a hazardous undertaking. Every one has presumed him guilty from the day he was arrested couple of decades ago. Chattering classes begin their discussion of the emerging political scenario strongly eager to elicit a confirmation of their belief that Asif Zardari, is the root cause of all our misfortunes and once he is removed, things will be hunky dory. Why? Because he is very corrupt and with the de-legalisation of NRO by the highest court he ought to be in the jug.

When General Musharraf had put Asif Zardari virtually under house arrest when he returned after his long imprisonment and a brief stay abroad. Even PML-N’s Khwaja Asif had to make a very startling disclosure on the floor of the Assembly that cases against his namesake had been concocted. That is why no case could be proved against Zardari in spite of his eight years in jail.

It is easy to blame all the mess and corruption on the politicians because it is otherwise a risky enterprise for the politicians during their brief sojourn in power to expose the crimes of real power wielders. One typical instance is a news report (BR 11.11.09) headlined: Submarine deal, Zardari accused of receiving dollar 4.3m in kickbacks.

If one took the time to read the report one could easily see that according to DCN (French Naval Defence Company) the deal involved kickbacks amounting to 10 percent of the purchase price. Lion’s share that is 60 percent was to go to the military and 40 percent to political circles and that too not entirely to Zardari. The slanted headline should have said something else.

Another instance is the recent article by Seymour Hersh followed by an interview in which he clarified that he had evidence the US administration had been working on “highly sensitive understanding” with Pakistan military on providing “added security for the Pakistani (nuclear) arsenal”. Obviously our sovereignty remains intact unlike in the case of Kerry-Lugar bill when the whole army brass was up in arms and went public with its complaint.

All that the bill stipulated was that our army will stay answerable to the civil authority. Obama administration has realised that the Americans have been too cozy too long with our military thereby hurting both the countries. But that is not how it goes. You give dog a bad name and hang him. One is not saying that Zardari who has acquired a very unsavoury reputation most of it undeserved is the only one with his hands in the till.

Zardari has been in jail for over a decade and no case has been proved against him including in the Swiss courts. His detractors say that it was Zardari who is responsible for escaping his conviction by delaying the judicial process and asking frequent adjournments but then why did your courts oblige him? Then there are those who claim that the facilities that Zardari enjoyed in the jail were no less than 5-star hotels.

Question is who permitted these facilities to a prisoner? The governments in power of course. One could ask such people would they like to go to such jail? Zardari has spent so much time in jail that had he been convicted the time spent by him in jail should have sufficed towards his punishment.

Muhammad Akram Sheikh, the leading lawyer of the land, has summed up all the cases, in a two-part article carried by The News. Zardari has used the same courts where benefit of NRO could not be claimed to have himself acquitted at electronic speed. And the same courts did not move even at snail’s pace when he was incarcerated to grant him temporary relief like bail? He had to bargain his way out.

The defence forces take away the major chunk of the national budget in the absence of any discussion in the Assembly. They are accused of not allowing even an audit to take place. It is also alleged that Financial Adviser for Defence who is supposed to pre-audit their expenditure is appointed after he is duly vetted by them; and is removed if he is not sufficiently pliable.

Unlike our judicial system, which is creaky and doesn’t hold any surprises, the French magistrates are a different matter and are indeed looking at the possibility that the murder of 11 French nationals was not the work of al Qaeda but was carried out by Pakistanis, either because only 85 percent of the agreed kickbacks had been paid or because of negotiations being carried out by the French to sell submarines to India.

French Parliamentarians not to be left behind are demanding to be allowed to look into how the submarine contract with Pakistan was negotiated. One hopes that facts will emerge to convince the Pakistanis that the politicians or civilians alone don’t have the monopoly over corruption, contrary to the NAB philosophy that underlay their ordinance.

The ‘law’ presupposed that corruption began on 1st January 1986, because that was the time when Junejo had entered into office of the Prime Minister with some limited powers ‘voluntarily’ transferred by Zia-ul-Haq. That is typical of our overlords. In a recently launched book a retired brigadier’s research has yielded the startling finding that proliferation by A.Q. Khan took place between 1988 and 1999.

Surprisingly they are the years when the overlords had allowed some form of democracy without permitting any government to complete its constitutional term. It is widely believed that about 12 billion dollars that the US gave to Musharraf for his services have mostly been eaten up. One knows from personal knowledge the massive institutionalised corruption benignly overseen by Musharraf.

(sshusain@hotmail.com)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2009

6 Responses

  1. The PPP has been a democratic entity struggling to rid the nation of continued dictatorships and their adversaries. It has had a long history of struggle and sacrifices in this regard. History witnessed that PPP never turned its back to the people whatever the circumstances were. Even Z.A Bhutto was dismissed by a dictator, Benazir Bhutto shaheed was assassinated and its its sitting Co-Chairman Asif Zardari was kept in extra-judicial captivity for more than a decade, the PPP has stood steadfast in its stance and beliefs.

    Since numerous sacrifices of PPP and its leaders the malicious campaign that started against Z.A Bhutto and extended to BB shaheed and now same vilified campaign against President Zardari. No one can rule out the fact that Zardari was democratically elected by the Legislative bodies of Pakistan with an over-whelming majority. Unparalleled in the history of Pakistan. The conspiracy theorists had everything to lose before the man who was un moved by false propaganda. Jails and Courts and assassination attempts. Non issues such as the NRO and the Kerry Lugar Bill were the desperate attempts of these elements to defame a popularly elected President, yet the recent victory in Gilgit Baltistan has stricken them dumb. For PPP believes in “all power to the people”

    Asif Zardari has been a target of character assassination since he stepped into the shoes of Bhutto. Fabricated corruption stories were bubbled through the Pro-Taliban and anti-democratic elements in the media and political circles alike. Extremist elements have long since conspired to unite under a single point agenda of Minus-Zardari set-up. A set-up intended to benefit the enemies of democracy, Islam and Pakistan.

  2. A good read indeed.

    I seem to remember about a certain book (The Military Inc) written by some lady… that was banned and taken off the stores almost as soon as it hit them. That should sum it all.

    “When General Musharraf had put Asif Zardari virtually under house arrest when he returned after his long imprisonment and a brief stay abroad. Even PML-N’s Khwaja Asif had to make a very startling disclosure on the floor of the Assembly that cases against his namesake had been concocted. That is why no case could be proved against Zardari in spite of his eight years in jail.”

    I also seem to remember… that in 2000/2001 or maybe 2002… some tapes surfaced. In which the younger brother of the prominent citizen with a love for hihari and paya… was ‘instructing’ a judge not to follow his earlier ‘instructions’.

    And what were those… ??? To award 14 years to a certain lady who made his brother’s “blood boil”. This was the initial ‘instruction’. The subsequent ‘instruction’ was that she should be awarded 7 years… since this would not give rise to ‘suspicions’. All these were caught on tape… apparently.

    There were also some reports that this lady had got both the prominent brothers to apologise on tape. For the record perhaps. Wonder what happened to all that.

  3. Mr grin-and-bear-it is not a good speaker or even a communicator. He lacks presence as well as charisma. These are imp. for a leader… and considering whose shoes he is trying to step in… these are indeed critical qualities. I did read somewhere… that he is dyslectic. But still…

    I have watched him several times on TV… he struggles to speak and is short on words. Maybe he does not realise the impact of his words or even the big picture. He tends to shoot off his mouth and has a penchant for “off-the-cuff” remarks.

    Plus he has an image problem. Image is imp. Has always been. He should have undertaken a thorough PR exercise as well as put together a competent media team. In his early days… of assuming office. He has lost the momentum. And as they say, “Time and tide wait for none.” Timing is important.

    He seems to be a businessman and not cut out for politics. Wisdom dawns on him and his team only after they have exhausted all options and have egg dripping off their faces. They are reactive and not proactive.

    The media team he has… is frankly pathetic. I have seen and heard the spokesperson… some lady… on television many times. She is pathetic. Infact below ‘C-Level’. She is incoherent and cannot express what she is trying to convey… apart from being uncouth and loud.

    Plus the party in its current avatar has failed to handle the lady’s legacy. She handled her father’s very well indeed. No matter what some folks say… she was way better… as a person as well as a leader than her father. She was the architect of the ‘B legacy/Brand’. And it had nothing to do with her father. It was “B-ism” on the lines of “Thatcherism”. She idolised Lady Thatcher… apart from Joan of Arc of course. Her father was never her role model, and all this talk of dynasty and inheritance – that of her father’s party and personal qualities… is pure and unadulterated poppycock. She was canny enough to understand the implications of being a female leader, etc in the kind of society that she operated in… and adroitly used her father’s name as a crutch. But nothing more.

    This party was hers… the one she built. Even the party symbols were diff. The earlier one has been with the estranged family… who accused her of “stealing the B Legacy” and much else. And today are shouting from the rooftop claiming to be the true inheritors of her legacy. Ditto… the prominent citizen with the love for nihari and paya.

    I’m sure everyone imp or otherwise realise this. Hence the overzealous attempts made by ‘some’ to glorify her father vis-a-vis her… and the dash by ‘others’ to fly her banner.

    She has an orchid named after (http://www.botanikfoto.com/en/search.php?title=Dendrobium+Benazir+Bhutto&query=Dendrobium+Benazir+Bhutto) plus is the only person from that country to have her waxworks at Madame Tussauds. Here is the one at London: http://www.fotowhizz.com/mtleaders03/mtleaders03001web.htm

    I can say with full confidence that her party… atleast the top brass is unaware of it. And so are her countrymen.

  4. Mr Grin-and-bear-it and his team were put on the mat quite easily… over a certain ‘Bill’. This… while they had a triumph card in the shape of ‘Hillary’.

    The world’s top diplomat is a self confessed fan of the lady. In her memoir “Living History” she described her as “a brilliant and striking woman” and said… “she was the only celebrity I had ever stood behind a rope line to see.” Plus much else. She spoke about this and more… in her interview with the Time magazine earlier this month. She went to several places in ‘the land of the pure’ during her 3 day visit. Yet, the top man and his team could not capitalize on any of the above. Strange!

    I think he is trying to build himself up… which is ridiculous. One must u/s one’s limits. He sits under his own photo. His party folks carry banners, etc where his pic is prominently displayed vis-a-vis the lady. He is yet to earn his spurs! All these make him comical. Plus he is unable to project a pan-Pak image. And has got down to the regional level. And his spokesperson… some lady with specs… says “he is no Denis Thatcher.” Of course he isn’t. Sir Denis is way out of his league.

    If you want examples of what they have done to her legacy…. here it is. B. sasta tandoor. Sh. B boxing tournament, Sh. B. kabaddi championship. I ask you!

    He and his team tries to club her with the original Mrs G’s son. He did not have any stature of his own and was basking in the reflected light of his mother. In the case of the lady… it is not so. Infact there’s only superficial resemblance between the Gs and the Bs. India and the ‘land of the poor’ cannot be compared at all.

  5. Just read well known investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s take on her assassination. It makes a lot of sense. He has clearly pointed fingers at Dubyaman’s voice of God, the Big C and the US Commander in Af among others. They wanted to maximise their gains… and get a ‘face’ to launch their plans in this part of the world. No wonder the term “Af-Pak” has come into existence now.

    Within minutes Hersh had to issue a statement… contradicting all this of course. And I’m sure he did that ‘voluntarily’.

    I have mentioned in my earlier comments… the imp of books.

    Recently one such book was about to make an appearance. Since it caused a furore it could not… yet. This book tried to suggest about a link-up between the lady and the land of the pure’s equivalent of Moose Miller.

    I remember there was another one in the works… to be published in 2008. Written by an Indian with an anglicised name. In this case, they tried to market it by quoting this ex-cricketer-cum-failed politician-cum-trumpet-blowing philanthropist’s former spouse. This lady is ‘the world’s best journalist/analyst/expert on foreign policy with special ref to subcontinental politics’… FYI. She spouted some ‘pearls of wisdom’ on the lady’s son and the 2nd Mrs G’s son. Plus talked about dynasty. Now… she is turning into an author and will be writing a book… to be published in 2011. In which she intends to give her priceless and uncharitable comments/views on the lady. All this in the garb of books/biographies. And pray, how many people on this planet are waiting to read the land of the pure’s equivalent of Moose Miller’s biography… ???

    Next year… mid year infact, a certain girl whose only claim to fame is that she is her aunt’s niece… is coming up with yet another book. Where she has slammed you know who. An ex-socialist hero too is doing his best. Another one… who has written a lot of books on the Mughals has joined in as well. Incidentally, his ‘book festival’ is financed by a london based wealthy jew. Hmmm. Plus he is said to be close to the brothers with a love for nihari and paya.

    Very, very, interesting times… indeed.

  6. I fail to u/s why the lady’s party is so bent on dubbing her as a ‘woman leader’. Everyone knows that she was a woman… there is no doubt on that front.

    But… she was a leader. A leader of people. Gender did not matter. She was never a card carrying member of the ‘feminist groups’.

    If her rise and success is solely attributed to her father’s name… then why did Fatima Jinnah not succeed… ??? Afterall, her brother was their ‘Father of the Nation’. She did not succeed politically nor could she win the elections… where another general defeated her. It was a rigged election and everyone was aware of it. The lady too faced rigged elections… and a far tougher time both politically as well as personally than her father had ever had to face. Z’s nearly 12 year rule was the most despotic and the darkest ever chapter in that country… and there has been ripple effects elsewhere in the region and beyond.

    Her father looked good… ‘coz several generations have seen him through her. How do you explain her popularity in B’desh where he wasn’t liked… ???

    Her party will have to do some soul searching and introspect… and handle her legacy in the manner it should be handled. Else, there is no hope for them.

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