Articles of the year 2009

Happily Ever After
Published on November 28th, 2009

These three words are the endings to all fairy tales, and indeed sum up the euphoria of all the PPP jialas, at the oath taking ceremony of President Asif Ali Zardari. For it was indeed a fairy tale, after the brutal assassination of Benazir Bhutto - without doubt the most charismatic and beloved of all the leaders produced in our history. All of Pakistan mourned her passing and everyone agreed that the mantle of power should rightfully pass on to her grieving widower. This sympathy wave which had ensconced a safe number of PPP members into the National Assembly was considered enough to bring power into President Zardari's hands. To most Pakistani people, who were hoping for a fairy tale Chapter 2, watched with horror at the choice of cabinet that was assembled by the president.

It is a primary rule of governance that the performance of a government depends on the quality of the men at the helm. This was the first misstep of President Zardari. His adherence to loyalty over merit is proving disastrous, for the people positioned in key slots are showing their inability to perform to the standard expected of them at required level. Worse, the corruption scandals that are surfacing, threaten to surpass all previous known levels.

These scandals are being discussed nightly on all the talk shows and on the streets of Pakistan.

However, it seems, that the president cloistered in his bomb or bullet proof shell and fed on a constant stream of 'all is well' diet by sycophants, does not realise that his is not a special case but all rulers in history are faced with this same problem of sycophants creating a wall of isolation, and leading ultimately to the 'Emperor who had no clothes' ending. This ancient story, whose authors have long faded from memory, has a lesson for all monarchs, bringing disaster to those who choose sycophancy over truth. After all if President Zardari sees the truth only then can he do something about it. It is time he sheds the heavy and corrupt baggage around himself. The recent cases of the NRO list should make his job easier, and he can and should remove those on the list. The people of Pakistan of whom he is the president owe nothing to this corrupt lot, and would like to see their removal, preferably by sacking. He has to distance himself rapidly from this association, for this association may well make it difficult for him to continue when the Supreme Court starts suo moto action against the recent scandals surfacing regarding exorbitant fees being taken for favourable judgments in the Dogar court. These rumours must be taken notice of and acted upon.

It was indeed a fairy tale, but the manner in which the story is unfolding, is heading towards disaster. The friends of Pakistan have already distanced themselves, and the only friends seem to be those figments that are the creation of the sycophants. The US media has already been writing of these scandals and their proximity to the presidency. We can safely assume that the US State Department headed by 'almost president' Hillary has already gone into the rethink mode. She had in her three day visit learned enough, to convince her that all was not indeed well in the State of Pakistan. As the United States is deeply committed to the region, and Pakistan being a major piece in the play, it is not possible for any player to show inherent weakness - certainly not major character flaws from them or their cohorts. Secretary Clinton knows well the power of the media, and how dangerous corrupt flaws in the Pakistani leadership can rapidly corrode the confidence of the US Congress. The president is already surrounded by a bevy of scandals, more are on the 'breaking news' burner, so he should immediately cleanse the ministerial stables of taints of corruption. Where they are already established by the NRO list action should be taken. The president is too vulnerable in his present state to ignore the rumour rumblings.

As in all fairy tales, we are never told if Prince Charming and Cinderella did have fights over the washing up, or the new maid in the scullery, but in the Zardari saga, the dirt is being thrown about constantly. With a powerful no-nonsense judiciary that has one eye on the future destiny and realises their important significance in the present history being written, will thus ensure that they deliver on their contribution to a just and honourable future for all Pakistanis. President Asif Zardari needs to pay heed to the 'new judiciary'.