Posts tagged ‘zardari’
Friday, November 28, 2008
by Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto
During his last visit to New York, Zardari is reported to have remarked that US troops could not enter Pakistan, because they didn’t have visas. This in the wake of his earlier verbal mishaps and indiscretions. They may be funny for some–such as his expression of a desire to hug Sarah Palin and ending up embracing Manmohan Singh, who responded by cutting off water to Pakistan–but they embarrassed the nation.
Not that the US has not had its share of bungling presidents–i.e., George W Bush himself, whose Bushisms have even appeared in book form. (Examples: “More and more of our imports come from overseas,” “If we don’t succeed we run the risk of failure,” “We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.”) However, the US is a mighty power which can endure such a comedy of errors, but Pakistan cannot. Hence the failed visits to the US, China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, even though these are the powers that traditionally come to Pakistan’s aid in times of need.
Let us recall here the Simla Agreement with India. Right up to the last day there was no agreement. In the end, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto suggested an unscheduled one-to-one meeting with Indira Gandhi. The meeting took place and the Shimla Agreement emerged.
Above all, a genuine leader has to be an undisputed leader of his people. Mere clones thrown up by circumstances and a collection of self-seekers cannot meet the requirement.
Someone must bring this truth to Zardari’s awareness before more serious harm is caused. A man who had been sidelined by his wife for eleven years suddenly bursts onto the Pakistani political scene as soon as she is murdered. Instead of rushing to the nearest police station to file a complaint about the murder and launch a crusade against her killers, he focuses on capturing the political and material heritage that she leaves behind. In this he receives collaboration from those who have been out of government for eleven years and are impatiently waiting to return to positions of power. Thus we have a president whose only attribute is marriage to a politically powerful wife. It does not matter that he has no academic qualifications and has been an accused in a plethora of criminal cases from which he has escaped because of a deal with Musharraf.
He does not have the courage to function outside the Bhutto aura and has had to take refuge in the “Jeeay Bhutto” slogan and move in the shadow of his wife’s portrait. This sort of things may fool the people at home but does not work abroad. His taking a huge portrait of his wife to the UN General Assembly was an act of unmitigated absurdity. In fact, this trick is becoming stale even in Pakistan.
Zardari has surrounded himself with hordes of hangers-on and scroungers, but has few real well wishers. Otherwise he would have been advised not to act as king, which has highlighted his serious limitations. In the short period since the elections he is being held directly responsible for the total failure of the third PPP government too. Benefiting by experience he should have remained co-chairman and pulled strings so that others became the targets while he continued to do what he does best.
As it is, the betrayed people, particularly in Sindh, are really on the warpath with their sights fixed on him. By exercising the powers of both president and prime minister, refusing to restore the pre-Nov 3 judiciary, holding on to the 17th Amendment and Article 58 (2) (b), ignoring Parliament, rewarding lucrative government posts to cronies and fellow-travellers, many of whom have criminal records (while the man in the street is forced into suicide because of hunger and mothers are reduced to selling their infants to buy food), allowing blatant corruption, murder and the other evils that plague our society, permitting all those in and around the government to have a ball rather than do their job and show results, and taking costly foreign trips, he has blocked all venues of escape for himself. On top of all this is the revelation in The Washington Post that US bombardment in Pakistan is under an agreement whereby the Zardari government will do nothing against the attacks but raise hollow objections to them for local consumption.
This has been followed by the disclosure by an American general that Pakistani and US troops are conducting joint operations against the militants in the north. All this has been denied but it fits smugly into the overall deal brokered by the US between the PPP and Musharraf, which is no longer secret. It is under its provisions that the NRO came into being while Musharraf continues to enjoy presidential perks and immunity from accountability. Many also feel that Shaheed Benazir was eliminated because she began to ignore the deal and became recalcitrant, while disclosures in the American media have highlighted the fact that she was not trusted: even Vice President Dick Chaney has been quoted as considering her unreliable.
The sudden disappearance of the most popular leader from the political scene, at a time when elections were around the corner, threw the whole political process into turmoil, out of which has sprung the current setup. Strictly speaking, Zardari is not a direct representative of the people. He was unpopular before and is unpopular now. Fate and greedy pulao politicians have catapulted him into a position which is not only beyond his wildest dreams but in which he does not fit. Having no roots, he is highly vulnerable and must cling to the support of parliamentarians who have put him in power. This is not available without patronage and privileges, the grant of which has become scandalous in the extreme.
Ministerial and advisory positions, assistantships, roving ambassadorships, appointments to high bureaucratic posts and simply grant of official hospitality to all and sundry have not only been a backbreaking burden on the depleted the public exchequer but also created a stink which has become politically damaging. The stature and image of the government has sunk to rock bottom and its writ reduced to nothing. Those in positions of authority, recalling the previous two quick exits of the PPP governments, do not trust their luck and feel the urgent need to grab whatever they can. Stories of corrupt practices being spread by those who are looking for jobs or handouts under the Benazir Income Support Programme and other such venues of beggary, are absolutely astounding. There is no way to control the excesses and liberties of those in government and their supporters, because, if control were exercised, there would be rebellion, leading to collapse of the government.
However, the heartbreaking scenario must not be allowed to sink a country that has potential for greatness. New options must be explored, and one is that an Election Commission headed by someone with the stature of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry must hold elections from which the usual sinners must be banned. The election campaign must be strictly regulated and monitored to punish offences instantly and strictly. Portfolios must be allotted on the basis of qualifications, the cabinet must be small and ministers must be required to do their jobs, rather than simply having a good time at government expense. Of course, such steps are not enough for cleaning up the huge mess that exists, but they would be a start.
The writer is chairman of the Sindh National Front.
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
NINE-ELEVEN is a date on which we in Pakistan mourn a natural death and a date on which the world remembers and denounces an act incited by religious extremism which brought with it violent death.
On this day in 1948 in Pakistan our founder and maker, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, died, and in 2001 on the same date war came to mainland America with destruction of a kind never before witnessed or experienced.
Two days prior to 9/11 of this year, I was visited by a charming young woman and a cameraman, both from DawnNews. A friendly soul to man and beast, unlike some of the bearded heavyweights who visit and climb on to chairs or up trees when greeted by my team of Jack Russell terriers, the young woman reacted to them in a normal civilised and friendly manner. She had come to record a few words from me on Jinnah as I remembered him for a programme to be aired on his death anniversary.
What can I say, I asked, other than he was a gentleman, a man whose word was his bond, a man who lived life to the full and achieved what few have achieved — the creation of a country? He professed to be a democrat, but in reality was a benign dictator who harmed no one. He merely put his foot down when necessary — and that was most of the time.
How was he dressed, asked young Sophia? What did he wear? He bought his suits and ties from Sulka, and his silver from Aspreys, I told her. His monocles were made by Meyerowitz. His shoes were handmade, mostly ‘correspondents’ as opposed to the normal footwear. I missed seeing the programme so have no idea as to what was cut and what was actually broadcast.
I suggested to her that she interview Yusuf Haroon, now the only living man who was his confidant as well as his guard commander. Yusuf lives in Connecticut but is now in Karachi. Whether she got to him or not, I do not know.
This 9/11 our brand new shining president, Asif Zardari, supported by Governor of Sindh Ishrat ul Ibad, and the ever-faithful evergreen Sindh Chief Minister Commuter Qaim Ali Shah, with his freshly dyed Cherry Blossom hair and moustache and unchanging facial expression, come hell or high water, duly went to offer themselves up at Jinnah’s tomb. As is the custom, they raised their eyes and hands before the empty catafalque and addressed themselves to their Creator. What they murmured, no one heard, but what it was that Jinnah growled out to them we can all easily guess.
They then all moved on to the visitors’ book in which those who go to pay public homage record their innermost feelings. Recorded by Asif, in illegible handwriting resembling that of a stressed physician, were the words “May Gaad (sic) give us the street (sic) to save Pakistan.” Space precludes me from recording the lengthy ramblings of the other two.
Two days later, it can safely be said that the Omniscient and Omnipotent had heard Asif’s plea, for we read that his prime minister, the unsmiling Yousuf Raza Gilani, had assured us that Pakistan will not wage war against America. Faith had emerged triumphant, leaving Asif to finish off what Bush had started. At this, even I proclaimed, God be praised.
Now, on to the ravaged city of Karachi, and to parks and beaches the citizens are trying to salvage or save. Firstly, we have 55 acres of parkland, Ahmad Ali Park (locally known as Kidney Hill). Then, we have 450 acres of parkland, available for development for the benefit of the people, in the sewerage farm known as Gutter Baghicha. Also, 200 acres, stretching over some 14 km of seashore for which a movement known as Sahil Bachao (save the beachfront and resist the violation of the centuries old ‘Public Trust’ doctrine) has been launched by groups of concerned citizens.
Kidney Hill and Gutter Baghicha are in court, where conditions being what they are the people are floundering. Petitions filed by the citizens in the Kidney Hill matter have just been dismissed, as the court declared that the government had made contradictory statements. The court recommended that the petitioners now file a suit. The situation in court is the same with Gutter Baghicha.
In the case of Kidney Hill, Governor Ishrat ul Ibad was persuaded by a group of concerned citizens early last year to intervene and attempt to settle the contentious matter. He promised to do so, but nothing ever came of his promises. He may care to re-examine the issue anew.
What the few of us battling losers, concerned with open spaces and parklands in this congested overpopulated city, really want is money from those who have money and vocal support from the public, the awam, who are the ultimate grand losers when they find themselves with a city in which open spaces, parks and beaches are few and far between. The total area of just the three projects I have mentioned is 705 acres — no mean acreage for essential recreational purposes of the poor and deprived.
To battle the marauders, who are supported always by the government of the day, is not an easy job. But there is an alternative to battling. Can the all-powerful president of the republic Asif Ali Zardari come to the help of the people of Karachi, the city in which his wife was born, raised and schooled? Concerted cries of “Jeay Bhutto” will not keep her memory alive. He has named in remembrance of her a road in Rawalpindi and an airport in Islamabad. In Karachi what he can do is on each of these three open spaces build and nurture parks in her memory, erect monuments, plant trees and flowers, make them into areas of peace and tranquillity where the poor and the rich may rest, breathe the air, even meditate, and in tranquillity remember the good done by Benazir Bhutto.
Courtesy: a blog ~ was probably printed in The Nation back in 1998/1999
1. Plot no. 121, Phase VIII, DHA Karachi.
2. Agricultural land situated in Deh Dali Wadi, Taluka, Tando Allah Yar.
3. Agricultural property located in Deh Tahooki Taluka, District Hyderabad measuring 65.15 acres.
4. Agricultural land falling in Deh 76-Nusrat, Taluka, District Nawabshah measuring 827.14 acres
5. Agricultural land situated in Deh 76-Nusrat, Taluka, District Nawabshah measuring 293.18 acres
6. Residential plot No 3 (Now House) Block No B-I, City Survey No 2268 Ward-A Nawabshah
7. Huma Heights (Asif Apartments) 133, Depot Lines, Commissariat Road, Karachi
8. Trade Tower Building 3/CL/V Abdullah Haroon Road, Karachi
9. House No 8, St 9, F-8/2, Islamabad
10. Agricultural land in Deh 42 Dad Taluka/ District Nawabshah
11. Agricultural land in Deh 51 Dad Taluka Distt Nawabshah
12. Plot No 3 & 4 Sikni (residential) Near Housing Society Ltd. Nawabshah
13. CafT Sheraz (C.S No.. 2231/2 & 2231/3) Nawabshah
14. Agricultural land in Deh 23-Deh Taluka & District Nawabshah
15. Agricultural property in Deh 72-A, Nusrat Taluka, Nawabshah
16. Agricultural land in Deh 76-Nusrat Taluka, Nawabshah
17. Plot No. A/136 Survey No 2346 Ward A Government Employee’s Cooperative Housing Society Ltd, Nawabshah
18. Agricultural land in Deh Jaryoon Taluka Tando Allah Yar, Distt. Hyderabad