Articles of the year 2009

Published on March 07th, 2009

The policy of brinkmanship as practiced by the PPP leadership has begun to take its toll on the camaraderie which was a hallmark of the party. In theory the party consisted of like-minded anti-establishment people, but with a sprinkling of waderas (feudals). The scheming was left to the Bhuttos. Now this mantle has passed on to Zardari, which he is practicing with the consummate ease of a true Sindhi. The Simple Sharifs got taken, time and again, not believing that lying was part of politics in Sindh. Poor Nawaz playing it straight was out played till Zardari wound up with the presidency, prime ministry, Cabinet and majority in the Senate. Sitting pretty. With the Sharif brothers sidelined.

However, in Pakistan, winning is not enough, there is always more. Surrounded by sycophants, as high office in Pakistan always is, the more chorus was too tempting and the sequence of events to take the Punjab government were put into play. This is probably Zardari's most dangerous blunder to date. The consequences may well fulfill the foreboding of the ides of March.

In Pakistan, to voice or hint dissent, is treason. In the heady atmosphere of the presidency, where, to be fawned upon is the norm, from the footman to the cabinet minister, it is easy to be lulled into a feeling of superiority, and invincibility. History is full of leaders whose senses have been dulled by the intoxication of power, till events orchestrated or otherwise overtake them.

Asif Zardari is an incredibly lucky man to have achieved this position within such a short time. Governing Pakistan may not be quite that simple, avoiding traps laid out are his most immediate hurdles, getting more complicated by the day. His enemies are everywhere, inside and outside the country. Survival is an art, failure is death. The survival rate of our leaders is abysmal indeed. However this was the time to set new standards, and to bring a sense of cooperation and accommodation. He should start by listening to the voices in his party, beyond the sycophancy, and he will realize the unhappiness and resentment at being ridden over roughshod by the leadership (the Wall Street Journal quotes are eye openers). The point being that the PPP of Zardari is getting embroiled in skirmishes of its own creation, needlessly. In Pakistan's troubled present we need a peacemaker, with boundless goodwill towards all as shown by the Sharif brothers till the Supreme Court judgment, and now they are being made to fight for their lives. Win, lose or draw, the move will long effect the relations between the two parties. Surely this move was completely unnecessary, and the chances of success are diminishing by the day.

Pakistan needs a spirit of cooperation in the Indian mode, for a coalition government means respecting the wishes of your partners, not undermining them. The present culture of horse-trading must be eliminated immediately, for the biggest danger it presents is to encourage a breed of politicians with a primary objective of making money, trading power for pelf. The principles of the politicians are being traded like commodities. The imposition of forced Governor's Rule was predicated on success at the horse-trading. The danger is that with a powerful media, able to expose these moves, will lead to attacks on the errant politicians by the now savvy and informed public. This is probably a good thing, but it will tar the sponsors of such moves, and the party leadership responsible will suffer in turn.

The public are very well informed and understand what is going on in the country, and President Zardari would be well advised to widen his circle of advisers and he will find that the wave of anger in the people is of Tsunamic proportions, even amongst his party. Closeted in the plush, safe, comfort of the presidency, and surrounded by admiring minions, truth is left far outside. How then will the cosseted president know the truth?

The monumental security lapse in the Sri Lanka match, is being compounded by those in our PCB calling Chris Broad a liar, when in truth the security was the responsibility of the PCB, for not pointing out the meagre number of policemen en route to the ground. The PCB knows that when you promised presidential security, there should have been a policeman at every ten yards. This was evidently not done, and the PCB should take their share of the blame without blaming Broad who did risk his life to come to what is the most dangerous country in the world. Ijaz Butt has disgraced Pakistan not only for the lapse in his supervision, but to now launch a feeble attempt at ridiculing his guest in the media. Far better for him is to resign, or face the sacking from his post for which he obviously has no ability. It is this deflective statement that is the cornerstone of our administration. This must be corrected before any other mountains are to be conquered.

The effect on our economy cannot be calculated, for, Pakistan is fast confirming its place as the most dangerous place on earth, and soon will be the poorest. A classic example of mismanagement.