Saturday, April 8, 2017

Zardari Deserves Appreciation for his Good Deeds


April 6, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi

Asif Ali Zardari the Co-chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party(PPP) and the former president of Pakistan returned to Pakistan on December 23, 2016. Zardari had left Pakistan for Dubai in 2015, couple of days after he had delivered a hard-hitting speech that seemed to be negatively directed at the Pakistan army and specifically General Raheel Sharif with regard to his retirement.
With the return of Mr. Zardari, the PPP would once again, get a mature leadership. In his absence, the onus of leading PPP fell on the shoulders of his son and scion of Bhutto family Bilawal Zardari. However, Bilawal is too young, naïve and inexperienced in the art of politics and diplomacy. His main drawback is that he is not well-versed with the political culture of Pakistan.

Moreover, He cannot make a speech in the national language of Pakistan Urdu which is the main medium for dissemination of party’s manifesto, plans and policies. In an exploding voice, he simply reads from a prepared text which looks ridiculous. It would have been much in order if, in the absence of Mr. Zardari, a senior member from PPP should have been appointed as the interim head of the PPP. That would have erased the impression that PPP pursues the dynastic culture in the party.
 
Since his return to Pakistan, Mr. Zardari has lambasted the PMNL government in center as well as Punjab. He blamed the PMNL government for neglecting Sindh province which is quite an effective card to reestablish the political clout of the PPP.  The earlier friendly overtures between PPP and the PTI seem to be wrecked because of the irresponsible criticism of PTI chairman Imran Khan against Mr. Zardari and other PPP stalwarts. 

Lately Mr. Zardari has met various politicians including Chaudhry Shujaat, president of the Pakistan Muslim League and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Ilahi. Chaudhry family from Gujarat is a known political adversary of the Sharif family. If Mr. Zardari is aiming at forming a coalition of the political parties to browbeat the PMNL, then such an alliance may not prove to be effective. Perhaps he is aiming at defeating the PMNL in 2018 general elections which by all reckoning PMNL would win. On the face, PMNL and PPP should be natural allies as both have served Pakistan better than others.

It should be kept in mind that Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are both friendly with China. Mr. Zardari has massive business interests in China. Both Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari support CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). Therefore, in the backdrop of CPEC, China may not encourage Zardari to dislodge Mian Nawaz Sharif by opposing him along with other political parties’ hostile to PMNL.  

Personally, I admire Asif Ali Zardari for his inimitable political acumen and excellent administrative guts. To me he is a maverick who, despite innumerable hostilities and roadblocks on the political path, excelled marvelously both as the chairperson of the PPP and president of Pakistan. He also proved to be a true successor of late Benazir Bhutto in leading the PPP. During his five years’ stint as president, he proved himself to be a superb negotiator with disarming logic and conciliatory skills.

I would not dwell on his insatiable avarice for money and the alleged questionable techniques and dubious tactics employed to gain and accumulate mammoth wealth. Tell me one politician in Pakistan who didn’t exploit his powers and exalted position and remained clean of the corruption, misuse of power in gaining wealth. I would also not delve in the unproven allegations that he is responsible for the murders of his spouse and prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto and his brother in law Mir Murtaza Bhutto.

I would simply confine my discourse to his historic and brilliant attainments for Pakistan during his presidential tenure of five years. I would solely focus on the positive side of his personality and performance that is unmatched by most of the presidents and the prime ministers of Pakistan. He is an extremely deft negotiator and possesses compromising disposition for give and take both in politics and business.

Despite being one of the most maligned person, on the national level, he has to his credit a litany of notable achievements for the good of Pakistan and the people. He is the one president who completed his tenure of five years as the democratic head of Pakistan People’s Party. Mr. Zardari made history by making peaceful transition of power.

Instead of hanging on to power on one pretext or the other, he established the democratic tradition by relinquishing the charge of the presidency to his PMNL successor President-elect Mamnoon Hussain. That decision, in fact, fortified the cult of democratic culture which otherwise has been ignored by several other prime ministers, the presidents and heads of political parties.

He voluntarily gave powers to the Parliament, built up consensus on the NFC Award and brought about unanimous passage of the 18th, 19th, 20th Constitutional amendments. These are laudable and historic achievements with no prior examples in Pakistan. Thus, he revived the Constitution of Pakistan in its original form which has been distorted by autocratic regimes.

Asif Ali Zardari adopted the policy of reconciliation and made far reaching decision through consensus and broader understanding among the political forces. During his presidency, he shunned the cult of confrontation with the judiciary and military leadership. Finally, he was the first head of state who gave the much sought after identity to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.


When Asif Zardari became the President of Pakistan, the forex reserves of the country were $6 billion. When he left the Presidency, the reserves had exceeded $13 billion.In his address to the party workers on his return to Pakistan on December 23, 2016, he sounded quite positive and determined to resolve the issues that he pointed out in his speech