Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reminding President Zardari

By Saeed Qureshi

President Zardari has to do two things post haste. He has to reveal the names of the assassins of Benazir Bhutto, the late chairman of the PPP and his spouse. He is on record of publically confessing that he was privy to the identities of her assassins. Then what prevents him from bringing these criminals to justice? Horrifically the party in power whose chairperson was mercilessly slain has not gotten a simple FIR registered with the police so far. Such a high profile murder and so callous of indifference exhibited by her own party to even start a probe is simply stunning. Secondly, he has to expunge the pernicious clauses from the controversial 17th amendment, including the 58-2/B that he had publicly promised to do within 24 hours immediately after taking the highest office in Pakistan.

Ever since Benazir Bhutto was killed at the end of the PPP’s public rally at the Liaquat Garden on December 30, 2007, the party despite being in power has shown no serious inclination or any visible interest in probing this broad day light murder case. A lousy and dullard investigation team of the British intelligence agency Scotland Yard initiated some preliminary, lack luster inquires of a very perfunctory nature and then departed never to come back. Also, the United Nations team’s hasty departure left a million questions unanswered.

Their mandate was, ostensibly, limited and their findings were based on the information provided by the government minions and Pakistan’s intelligence outfits. The investigation which was unproductive must have cost quite a hefty amount to the tax payers of Pakistan. It looked to be just a customary ritual that was performed with no willful passion or seriousness perhaps to remain confined to a hopelessly limited agenda handed out to them by the invisible powers.

A leadership that is, downright, up to the neck in corruption and does not harbor any qualms of conscience about the shameless way they repeatedly lie and backtrack from their solemnly held out commitments to the nation can be simply categorized as the scum of the earth. I doubt even the sensibility and prudence of late Benazir Bhutto to bypass the established democratic traditions and give a blank cheque in the form of a will to her spouse to hold the reins of the party after her death. Even if the heaven was going to fall and she had a definite premonition about her end, such a will that is reminiscent of the family dynasties and hereditary monarchies would not have been the only option left out to her. In the first instance a will was not necessary at all. The PPP is not a family asset or property to be bequeathed to a member of the family.

The bequeathed lucky person was no one else than her husband Mr. Zardari who assigned himself the role of an interim chairman of the party till his adolescent son Bilwal Zardari completes his education and takes over the party as a de jure chairman. To take a custodian’s role and to nominate his young son as the ultimate head of the party is in line with the nasty tribal dastarbandi system or a kind of the preemptive nomination by a king to nominate a successor to the throne. What a pity and what a cruel joke with the theme of a party that proclaimed that democracy was its politics. The party cadres accepted both the will and the succession as a gospel truth and as a sacred creed that was beyond questioning. Since its inception in 1967, the party is being run on mere nominations and there have never been elections within the party to choose the office bearers. The other political parties barring the religio-political parties are sailing in the same boat.

The aforementioned was just beside the point. The cardinal point is that it’s high time for President Zardari to honor his manifest pledge of transferring powers to the prime minister. Thus far, armed with the deadly and powerful weapon of 58-2/B, he looks as a prototype or a clone of President General Pervez Mushrraf. The 17th amendment has to go and that was the election slogan of the PPP as well. President Zardari has never spelt out any reasons that could justify his complete silence or side tracking of the most pressing task of the revision or the annulment of the 17th amendment including the definite removal of the draconian 58-2/B.

In there is a political party or any other force in the political wilderness of Pakistan to remind and convince President Zardari and his party to make a difference between the governance of a military head of state and the chief of a grass root political party? Why president Zardari and his party are bent upon proving themselves to be morally bankrupt and to be audacious on top of that? The stony silence and utter disregard evinced by the rank and file of the party in power is simply disgusting and would not stand in good stead for the future of this one time most robust and leading popular political party of Pakistan. Should Pakistan still reel under the presidential rule or move towards a parliamentary system of government? Time might be running out for both these options.

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