Saturday, March 26, 2011

Zardari is the Smartest of all the Politicians

By Saeed Qureshi

Contrary to the cacophonic battle cries and ominous forebodings of pandemonium from his political adversaries, the peaceful manner with which he managed to deliver his annual ceremonial address to Pakistan’s parliament, is a testament to the ingenuity and dexterous wheeling dealing of the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari.

This was the fourth time that his address was serene and listened with poise and visible calm by the politicians, the parliamentarians, the senators and the visitors alike. The drab and silent walk-out by the dissident political parties was a plus for the president as this tranquil show of protest was in sharp contrast to the street despising and clamorous reviling jargon by his opponents.

He has been able to rein in and woo back the riotous and perennially rebellious MQM that wants to be counted as the national level party by expanding its tentacles in every province. For the fourth time, despite their irrevocable announcements to abandon the PPP, they once again, recanted, have given in before the disarming smiles of Asif Ali Zardari. Of late they look and behave like a pet cat.

Each time there were loud and unambiguous pledges thrown out by the PPP stalwarts including the president himself and that inimitable compulsive pledge broker Rehman Malik with regard to curbing crime in Karachi. Each time the solemn commitments have been audaciously broken and watered down.

Each time, the chum of Mr. Zardari, the violent and presumptuous Doctor Zulfikar Mirza never ceased throwing vicious and threatening gauntlets to MQM, a party like an indispensable albatross around the neck of PPP and more pointedly that of maverick Zardari.

MQM’s slogan of waging a revolutionary epic war against the rapacious feudal lords, the ruthless Sardars of Baluchistan, the bellicose easy-to-buy Khans of the NWFP, the mercantile robber barons, and all the villains in every costumes and brands is losing its luster for this party’s unpredictable and sudden compromises with the PPP.
I was amused by an ear to ear grin of Asif Ali Zardari when he met with the MQM heavy weight the governor of Sindh Ishratul Ibad Khan after the latest proclamation of the MQM that they were finally parting company with the PPP and would withdraw their support even in the national assembly.

All of sudden they were again with the PPP and their categorical separation from the PPP went up in the air and the MQM top notches making lame excuses and offering phony arguments for a docile and pro PPP conduct out and inside the parliament. Zardari has proven himself to be an exorcist of unrivalled excellence and each time he carried the day to bridle the recalcitrant MQM by using his magic and political acumen.

There is a kind of disarray and strident panic among the opposition parties that keep blowing hot and cold at the same time, knowing not how to counter the unconquerable political moves and skills of Zardari. The United Front that should have been built to brace against the chronic bad governance, unparalleled corruption, anti-judiciary demeanor, colossal lawlessness, the power outages, the Karachi revenge killing, the mishandling of the Raymond Davis case, the ineffectual response to the persistent drone attacks and so on, remains a far cry.

The PPP government is unmoved, unconcerned and rather putting up a studied silence on high profile murders including that of GEO reporter Wali Khan Babar and the minority federal minister Shabaz Bhatti. Even it is delivering no progress on their prominent leader Salman Taseer’s cold blooded murder.

Despite an incessant and an all embracing turmoil in Pakistan, the PPP’s main penchant seems to be to hang on to the power by pleasing the coalition partners and somehow complete its five year tenure. All conspicuous cases of corruption adjudicated by the superior courts have been put in a limbo because of the administration’s non compliance of the follow up actions. Most of these corruption cases involve the close friends and family members of the prime minister, the president and other luminaries of the ruling party.

The government is still in place because Zardari possesses the extraordinary and spectacular faculties to outsmart his political rivals. The separation of JUI and the mysteriously neutral conduct of the second largest party; the PMLN has not been able to make any dents in the PPP”s hold on power. Discernibly, the PMLN is a paranoia victim of the army resurgence in power that is favorable to PPP.

The PMLN’s docility and mere loud talk without any anti government move for the people of Pakistan is a huge savior, by default, for the sitting PPP government. Perhaps they do not want to kick the hornet’s nest so aggressively lest their Punjab government suffers the consequences. It is a sort of a tacit, unholy and unwritten quid pro quo that serves the respective parties’ interests but not that the country or the people of Pakistan.

Zardari has managed to keep political outfits and politicians pegged to their respective places so as not to pounce upon the government with damaging uproars or rallies. There is no way that the politicians from the opposition can whip up a vigorous street agitation or in-house protests to shake up the felonious government.

The opposition ranks are all in disarray and paralyzed for any coordinated or orchestrated campaigning aimed at the ouster of the government through street agitations or via constitutional means. Zardari has the unmatched traits of pulling his tricks and punches with dazzling accuracy and profound effectiveness at the right time.

Does it not speak for the sagacity and amazing political skills of Zardari that the army despite a surfeit of provocations and right or wrong pretexts, has by its own volition, remained unconcerned even without uttering a despising or disapproving statement against the PPP government?

He has also succeeded in keeping the army at bay although there has always been a lurking possibility of takeover by the military due to total governmental malfunctioning and corruption mayhem let loose by the PPP regime without any fear of being knocked out of the power arena.

So let us unbraid and denounce the tribe of politicians starting from Imran Khan, to Maulana Fazalur Rehman, to Nawaz Sharif to, Ch. Shujaat Hussain to Altaf Hussain for receiving relentless battering and discreditable defeats at the hands of a person who was and still being considered a novice in the corridors of politics and an individual notorious for his insatiable malfeasance by billions of earth inhabitants. Nothing succeeds like success.

I am therefore, in favor of raising a banner and lofty monument for Zardari to honor him for scoring victory after victory by smacking and stampeding the legions of politicians who are also no angels and frankly are chips of the same bloc.

It would hardly make any difference whether Zardari or Nawaz Sharif or anyone else grabs power unless God lowers down from heavens some angels to set the all embracing rot in order and stem the surging tide of decay and degeneration eating into the vitals of our beloved Pakistan.

The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat
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