Sunday, April 5, 2009

“Pakistan Khappey”

By Saeed Qureshi

Pakistan Khappey was the slogan that incumbent chairman of the PPP (P) and the president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, raised at a time when, in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the country was up in flames and the public outrage and gloom was at its peak. Despite colossal destruction of infrastructure and horrendous hooliganism, the country eventually returned to normalcy. People listened to the message of Pakistan Khappey( we want Pakistan) with obligation and turned to empowering the PPP leadership via their ballot with the firm hope that finally despite loss of an invaluably precious life, the country was set to revert to a genuine yet hardly won democratic rule and henceforth all would be fine.

The people’s glee knew no bounds when the colliding political forces joined hands before and after the elections to reinforce and move towards the representative government. The elections were held, the former president left the power arena, and Mr Zardari became the president of Pakistan. Before assuming the presidency, he held out a categorical public pledge that his first order, after he took over the reins of the presidency, would be to remove 58-2/B. At least four written agreement were inked between Late Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari on one side and an equally popular leader Nawaz Sharif, on the other, to usher Pakistan into a long sought after era of democratization and civil society.

After taking the highest office, Mr Zardari has shown his true side of the character. He has amply and irrefutably demonstrated that his commitments to transfer power to the prime minister for parliamentary form of government, unfetter judiciary and media, strengthen institutions, get rid of the mercenary role of Pakistan viz a viz imperial powers and stop killing their own people by using national army were mere tricks and hollow promises that he never meant seriously. He believes in the much debased adage that “all was fair in love and war”. But he does not understand that this should not be applied in relation to a nation that he is presiding over. He may do so in his love affairs and with the enemies that he would like to fight. But the power belongs to the people and the people can throw him out in the same fashion that they voted him and his party into power. Thus he has made him and his party a laughing stock and its power base is fast being eroded with growing public discontent and unrest.

Mr Zardari seems to be under the illusion that he can fool all the people all the times and still would remain safe and sound. This is not the style how statecraft is conducted even by the worst of non-challant. He seems to be unmindful of ten years of party’s tribulations including the innervating exile of their late chairperson that was longer than that one of Nawaz Sharif’s. Knowing fully well that he personally was not the rightful recipient of the powerful office of the president, he should have behaved as to earn it by an exemplary pattern of governance. If it were all a matter of continuing the past policies then president Musharraf was far better than the ruling cabal of the current politicians.

Musharraf was still better because he was not as deceitful, ham-handed and with feet of clay as Mr.Zardari with his retina of elite looking ministers is. PPP should have trumpeted a clean break with the past regime’s policies. It should have moved fast, decisively and with sincerity to salvage the country from the deepening and stultifying quagmire of decay and moribund system of governance. Woefully the country called Pakistan is more fragmented; more problems ridden and more unstable than what it was before the advent of the ruling Don Quixotes. Since Mr. Zardari and a bunch of his close pals got the jackpot of power like a windfall and since they are prone to using politics for personal gains, they have messed a country already reeling under the countless wounds from the power elite.

Zardari and his band seem to take the politics and the governance as a garden party where they can jest, laugh, make fun and romanticize. Instead of improving the situation, the impulsive and whimsical decisions that shoot out of the presidency, further worsen the state of affairs. From, parting company with PML (N) despite a carte blanche given by the latter to go together, to appointing a pinheaded, dare devil, impudent, saber rattler as the governor of Punjab, the unseating of Nawaz brothers via a dubious court ruling, the sudden prostration before the ultra right relgious militants of Swat; to sputtering contentious statements are actions as questionable as these are myopic.

The PPP”s ruling oligarchy is audaciously proving as deaf, dumb and blind to the myriad problems such as poverty, education, health care lawlessness, unemployment, ransoms, abductions, water and power outrages, spiraling cost of living, bribery et el, It speaks of a derelict mindset on their part. Instead of addressing the appalling socio-economic and civic problems and reconstruction of the country, they are busy in palace intrigues and dismantling of whatever good or bad already exists. Pakistan’s foreign policy looks like a stack of hay that can be thrashed by any one at any time. The PPP government at the center is critically dysfunctional.

These people lack vision, the will and sincerity to put things in order. Have the ministers and their cronies at every level of either the party or the government been given the mandate to inflict wounds on the body politic of the country and then rub salt on these by issuing misleading, erroneous statements and perfunctory explanations to justify their hold or perpetuation in power? But perhaps the day of reckoning is not far away. The soul of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto must be restless over the party’s rudderless role in saving the country from shipwreck. Benazir Bhutto must be turning in her grave for writing a will that gave powers to a person, to rule the country and the party, who least deserved it. Alas! Mr. Zardari has thrown his noble slogan of “Pakistan Khappey” to the winds.

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