Articles of the year 2010

Stop Digging
Published on February 20th, 2010

The ancient advice from the sages has been very clear. When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging! Surely, this advice holds good today. It does not need anyone brilliant to understand the rationale behind this truth. What is not understandable is the Zardari penchant for doing things his way, even if it means trying to dig yourself in deeper.

Ever since he was sworn in as President of Pakistan, we marvelled at the manner in which he had taken control of the party, and then of the assembly. Everything seemed to be going his way, and the manner in which he played Nawaz Sharif was enjoyed by the jiyalas. This cavalier attitude was applied to all his political dealings including his barefaced denials. This has not been taken kindly by the N league. Nor have the judges appreciated that their reinstatement was of his largesse; a comment repeated by the prime minister on the floor of the house. This attitude and the disdain with which the other leaders have been treated is taking on a serious level. Much worse is the president's habit of backtracking on his political wheeling and dealing which has not made him many friends, in fact may have given him a reputation of mistrust. Certainly, it's not a good start for a newcomer to the big game. His late wife was adored by her followers, and by her detractors, as the one who could be trusted. Therefore, to dismantle this trust could lead to very serious trouble for Zardari.

The president having 'greatness' thrust upon him by unfortunate circumstances, should make him even more careful with how he plays his cards after the initial lucky hands. His trying to take control of the ISI was doomed from the start. At the same time, trying to send the Director General ISI to India showed some seriously shallow thinking, and in both cases General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani acted swiftly to correct the wrong.

Furthermore, the treatment in the judges' case shows quite clearly that the president has not quite completely accepted the return of the chief justice, notwithstanding the huge public backing given to the chief justice by the people of Pakistan. The inner core of the president's men are continuing in their effort to create further schisms between the judiciary and the president not realising that the office of the chief justice is invaluable to the well being of the country. In fact may be equally important if not more so, for we may be at the beginning of a new era with an honest judge watching over us.

The president must allow the chief justice to continue in his quest to give us a clean judiciary which is the hallmark of a civilised society. He must not be hindered in this.What's more is that the president's team tried and failed to get their own judges in, and Pakistan is lucky that the chief justice acted so quickly. Maybe the president should take aim at those who helped him in digging this hole he fell into.

There are many other problems Pakistan is facing - the most important is the economy. This needs the complete focus and attention of this government. It should be a matter of great concern that the American ambassador voiced her apprehensions at the downslide of our economy, and opined that the US was getting fed up in doling out their 'helping hand' and it was time Pakistan learned to help itself and stop playing these mindless games. Not only was this sound advice, but when delivered at a forum such as the National Defence College, it should be a wake up call to the men on the hill. This is as serious a threat as it can get, for the US is making it clear that they have witnessed the president's team having a priority for digging holes, and this is their not so subtle nudge to put the president and the prime minister on the right track again.

The president must surely see that a talk to the officers at the NDC has a very profound meaning, and the US expects this message to be understood so that the priorities are realigned, in the right direction. They are alarmed at the behaviour of the team on the hill and their message is stop digging - or else.