Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I do not believe!
June 12, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
Contrary to the belief of a select crowd, I doubt that Asif Ali Zardari, the sitting president of Pakistan, could have conspired the murder of his brother in law; Mir Murtaza Bhutto. I do not believe that he was instrumental in the assassination of his wife and the chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party; Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto. I have no evidence to conjecture that he forged his late wife’s will. There is no incontrovertible evidence that he stashed millions of dollars of ill-gotten money in the Swiss banks or in offshore accounts.
I consider it merely hearsay that he was liable to sell the atomic secrets of Pakistan as was alleged by the ousted Foreign minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi. All these allegations have remained unproven. If he has been successful in concealing all the evidence, then let us acknowledge that he is a maverick and a genius.
On the positive side, it is an astonishing accomplishment on his part that despite an unrelenting rain of multiple accusations, he has managed to keep in place the PPP government for all these four years. The opposition stalwarts who talk of accountability, a genuine democracy, a people’s revolution, structural changes, the rule of law, the redress of public woes like power shortage, poverty, lawlessness; could not force or trigger a no confidence in the parliament to oust a sleazy, most corrupt, inefficient and dysfunctional regime.
President Zardari outwitted the PMNL after getting himself and his prime minister elected with unprecedented mandate. This is what happens in politics. Politics is not essentially moral; it is a game of wits and brinkmanship. If president Zardari is not moral or sincere or clean handed, then tell me who else is?
Do we prefer to forget what happened during the previous regimes, starting from the earlier domino governments to that of Ayub Khan’s military dispensation, to the latter day establishments down to PMLN and finally that of Musharraf?
Someone should point out if there ever were absolutely upright, honest, righteous, selfless leaders who served the country with total dedication and with a passionate nationalism and abiding patriotism. All of them had selfish motives behind capturing power.
They settled scores with their political rivals, tried to cripple or debilitate the national institutions, corner the judiciary, hijack the establishment and bureaucracy and let loose reigns of terror and intimidation on their opponents to stick to power. No leader has an unblemished record of service to the cause of the country barring green patches here and there. Name a man whose life is rich in unselfish service.
Granted that Mr. Zardari, his prime minister and legion of ministers are corrupt and are exploiting their unassailable offices for amassing wealth and fortune, but truthfully, there has been no exception to these abominable pursuits by other leaders as well.
But let us see the salubrious side of the present political outfit in Pakistan. The most sparking hallmark of this government is that it has stepped into power through the popular vote. It is functioning in line with the democratic traditions.
In order to let the democratic tradition flourish, the present government ought to be allowed to complete its constitutional tenure of five years. Thereafter, there would be constitutional and democratic opportunity available to all the political contenders to compete for power and leadership. The next general elections are far away by a few months. By waiting for these elections, a healthy and democratic tradition would be established.
If there is a short cut to hold new elections let that option be resorted to. But primarily the removal of government and its replacement should be exercised in a democratic fashion. If the opposition can force the government to resign immediately, it should not be done through extra constitutional intrigues which is to invite the third force understandably army to take over.
The Supreme Court’s rulings and adjudication apart, the best and most desirable way should be to give a chance for the democratic option to prevail. The present ludicrous situation is that all the judgments of the supreme courts have been thrown in a limbo.
The executive is adamant on non compliance of the apex court’s verdict because it thinks; it was like committing a political suicide. Self preservation is natural and that is what the incumbent government was resorting to. That has created a stalemate catapulting the judiciary and the executive as belligerents towards each other.
Thus far neither the government could be sacked through a no confidence motion or by fomenting an anti-government nationwide agitation, nor soliciting the army’s intervention. It means notwithstanding the government’s poor credentials, it was still constitutional and legitimate.
The long marches and rallies open a backdoor for the extra constitutional and anti-democratic forces to step in and freeze the democratic process for a few years as has been happening intermittently since the inception of Pakistan. A countrywide agitation or movement against a visibly democratically elected government would be neither useful for the government nor for the opposition.
Granted there are yawning problems crippling and undermining the lives of the people, but what was the guarantee that any power that short-circuits the constitutional life of the present coalition government, would be composed of pious and honest people. It never happened during the past military authoritarian regimes.
Notwithstanding, the debatable personal conduct of president Zardari , that of his prime minister and other members of the ruling clique, there have been some watershed, vital reforms brought into being by the ongoing government. The 18th, 19th and 20th amendments in Pakistan’s constitution are monumental.
The allocation of more powers and independence to Gilgit- Balochistan region is decidedly a giant step. The empowerment of women folk through a surfeit of reforms (24) makes the weaker vessel more strident and respectable in a conservative and taboos-ridden society of Pakistan.
The 19 amendment makes judiciary significantly independent in appointment of judges and benches. The comprehensive package of incentives approved by the joint sitting of the parliament titled ‘Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan (AHB) grants far reaching fiscal leverage and independence to a hitherto neglected province. The 7th NFC award is a landmark breakthrough that ensures fair and agreed resources distribution among the provinces.
So the tendency to summarily reject and decry the present government as being run by a bench of crooks, looters and outlaws, is flawed and does not hold water.
There has been a lurking specter of Pakistan army taking over after the Osama Ben laden’s assassination and on some other occasions. But it goes to the credit of the incumbent government that it blocked the routes of military dictatorship returning to Pakistan after10 years of authoritarian rule by General Pervez Musharraf.
Despite all the shortcomings of the PPP coalition government its democratic image augurs well for the democratic future of Pakistan. Gen Kiani has been prudent by not committing the blunder of barging into political arena and capturing power at the cost of a democratic genre that would be further refined after the next elections.
Finally, to allege that president Zardari would sell Pakistan’s nuclear assets for a price cannot be possible as in November 2009; Zardari ceded to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the chairmanship of the National Command Authority: the Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal oversight agency.
The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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