19 June 2015

I won’t stand with Zardari just because he spoke against the establishment

Courtesy: The Nation

Former President Asif Zardari delivered a passionate speech against the military establishment on Tuesday. He warned the top military leadership that if they didn’t stop creating hurdles for him then he can shut the entire country down. This speech made him a hero for many people who showered countless praises on him on various social media platforms. Notwithstanding the fact that military establishment is responsible for the many problems in Pakistan, I won’t stand with Asif Zardari just because he made a speech against establishment.

Asif Ali Zardari is the son of late Hakim Ali Zardari who was leading the opposition against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977 elections in Sindh. In 1985 elections, Asif Zardari filed nomination papers to contest election for a Sindh assembly seat. Later he withdrew his papers since he had no political support. In 1987, life changed for Asif Zardari when he married the future Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benzir Bhutto. During the first tenure of Benazir Bhutto during 1988-90, Asif Zardari earned the reputation for Mr. 10%. He lived up to the billing in his wife’s second tenure from 1993-96. He then spent 10 years in jail and three years exiled in the US.

The first major change in the life of Asif Zardari was when he married Benazir. The second life changing event for him was her assassination in 2007. Out of the blue, Zari conjured a will written by Benazir Bhutto that entitled him to run Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). From 2008 till 2013, Asif Zardari ruled Pakistan while controlling both the Presidency and the Prime Minister House. This period was the worst in Pakistan’s history in terms of governance and corruption. Still Zardari is credited for successfully enabling his party to complete its five year tenure.

During his five years in power Zardari didn’t challenge the hegemony of the establishment. He provided the establishment with a clean chit to do whatever they want in Balochistan. He didn’t challenge the establishment on Afghanistan, Indian or the Kashmir issue either. In short, Zardari had no problem with the establishment when he was enjoying power.

In December last year, he agreed to the formation of military courts without any hesitation. He supported the Karachi operation when it was directed against MQM. Zardari’s problems started when the establishment attempted to corner him. Suddenly, Zulfiqar Mirza started a series of serious allegations against him and allegedly some mafia bosses working for PPP were arrested by Rangers. This forced Asif Zardari to come out in the open and challenge the military establishment in order to save his stranglehold on Sindh.

During the last PPP government, whenever Asif Zardari faced pressure from the establishment he started wearing the Sindhi cap. That was his way of playing the Sindh card: don’t disturb me or else Sindh would be disturbed. He used the Sindh card for his protection on more than one occasions but did nothing for the common people of Sindh. Today, people living in rural areas of interior Sindh are living a life worse than the people of Balochistan. Zardari could not do anything for the improvement of lives of the under-privileged people of Sindh but he always uses them for his vested political interests.

All those people who have started worshiping Zardari after his recent speech seemed to have lost track of history. They have completely forgotten what this man did to Pakistan during his five-year tenure. The argument that anyone who challenges the establishment should be treated as a hero is indeed lame. This sort of irrational behavior by certain groups results in bringing people like Zardari in power again and again.

The fact of the matter is that Asif Zardari only cares about his political interests. He has no regard for how people of Pakistan have suffered due to the establishment’s policies. He has never criticized them for their role in Balochistan or FATA. He is criticizing them only because his political stranglehold on Sindh is under jeopardy. If he manages to broker a truce then the same Zardari will be all praises for the establishment.

All those who are supporting Zardari after his recent speech need to understand the mistake that they are making. By supporting opportunists like Zardari, even if it’s moral support, people will empower the exploitative elite class in Pakistan. After what he did to Pakistan for five years he should not be voted back into power ever again. The way Zardari has been turned into a hero overnight due to one speech proves that he can once again attain power in 2018 elections and exploit the masses of Pakistan.

It’s often argued that leadership crisis is a main reason for the plight of Pakistani people. This is true to some extent but another fact is that the people of Pakistan are gullible when it comes to trusting a leader. They are deceived by the same leaders again and again and they vote them and support them while completely ignoring their track record. If the people of Pakistan want to improve their living standard then they must not fall prey to the political opportunism of Asif Zardari and others like him.

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