Pakistan’s five power centres and a lame duck President



Asif Ali Zardari is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has annulled the National Reconciliation Ordinance promulgated by Gen Pervez Musharraf to give the beleaguered PPP leader and a couple of hundred other politicians immunity from corruption charges. He is for all practical purposes a President shorn of moral authority to hold the high Constitutional office.

Zardari indeed has the fig leaf of a Constitutional buffer against prosecution so long as he’s President. But his presence in the presidential palace — the occupation of which he should have avoided in the first place— erodes it of legitimacy.

That apart, it’s deeply embarrassing for Pakistan to have a tainted President at a time its stock internationally is at its worst ever.

Zardari is adamant, however, to hold on to the Chair till his last breath.

The much maligned spouse of Benazir Bhutto is oblivious of or disrespectful towards a cardinal political principle: a ruler shouldn’t just be fair but also come across as being fair in popular perception.

The way it’s practiced in Pakistan, democracy is all about setting up fiefdoms of courtiers, sycophants and unscrupulous fixers. Elected representatives are —by their very conduct— incapable of occupying any moral high ground vis-à-vis the Army. That gives the gum-boots enough excuse to usurp power in the garb of national interest shown to be endangered by corrupt regimes— starting from the one led by the country’s most popular elected leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1971.

Zardari’s irony is that he’s perceived a gatecrasher in the presidency by most of his party peers and colleagues— driven as they are by the Bhutto legacy they find appropriated as dowry by an awkward looking son-in-law.

There are countless theories in Pakistan now about his fate and that of the PPP and the government the party leads at the Centre.

The question isn’t actually of Zardari’s survival. It’s about the survival of democracy— currently under attack from Islamic fundamentalists and forever under threat from an extra-constitutional admixture of the army, the intelligence fraternity and powerful civilians embedded with the ubiquitous establishment.

The judiciary’s rise and the independence it has demonstrated in recent judgments— including the one that seeks to put a stop to future army takeovers — is a happy augury. But its tendency to encroach on the domain of parliament and the executive, given the latter’s tattered image, needs recalibration. One also has to see how good it comes dealing with cases relating to terrorists and organizations promoting terrorism?

So acute is the fragmentation of authority in Pakistan that it has today five distinct centers of power: The President, the PM, the Army, the Judiciary and the Nawaz Sharif-led Opposition PML-N that’s shinning in contrast with the besmirched ruling coalition. Add to that the religious right mixed up with terrorist outfits and it will make one-half of a dozen.

The first five talk of national interest but are often unable to look beyond their nose. The army’s always at work to make elected representatives fight; Sharif has opened lines with the GHQ while driving a wedge between Zardari and his PM and the President is fighting its own battle with little or no respect for political propriety or the future of his party. For its part, the Judiciary is on a high from which it can only plummet.

About time Zardari realized that as President he’s expected to be the custodian of the Pakistani Constitution, not its convict. People respect those who renounce power— not those who cling to it.

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  • vijay kumar

    Dear Vindo uncle,

    Some weeks back you blamed Manmhon Singh for weakening Zardari.

    That was something of a Pakistani reaction of blaming everything on India; including the fact that Zardari’s own party was ditching him. Anyway, in case Manmohan Singh had endorsed Zardari, it would have been worse for him.

    He would have been called a RAW agent.

    Now you have at least recognised Zardaari is being eaten up by the contradictions of a state which is throughly corrupt, morally bankrupt and a promoter of nothing but international terrorism.

    If Pakistan has to redeem itself then it has to captire Dawood today, Osama tomorrow and Hafeez saeed a day after. Otherwise nothing changes there.

    While Zardari seemed a nice guy compared to the more evil Pakistanis looming in their political system, he just was weak in his beliefs.

    Sad if goes. He probably was India’s best bet in the terror financing place called Pakistan….

    [Reply]

    Paritosh Reply:

    you are forgetting something. In this case the nation against whom we are dealing with right now is Pakistan. it is indeed foolish of you to expect any Pakistani leader to take action against terrorism. over the years Pakistan has spend millions of US dollars to fund and aid terrorists in their land to carry out anti-India violence , why would any Pakistani leader like to dismantle it???. it is this attitude of Indians that costs us with incidents lke bomb blasts and terror attacks.

    [Reply]

    vinod Reply:

    Yes nephew vijay,
    I did blame Manmohan Singh for talking so upfront about the Head of State of a neighbouring country. That isn’t the job of a prime minister. If he wanted the message conveyed, a junior minister or even the home or defence ministers could have made those remarks. Heads of Government cannot afford to foreclose options.

    [Reply]

    vijay kumar Reply:

    Dear Vinod uncle,

    Look when Pakistan sends its assembly line of suicide bombers to India, does not that make Zardari weak?

    Or does he become weak when our Docile and decent Prime Minister tells Mr Zardari that please do something about these miillions of evil jehadis who are out to wreck the world?

    By that logic, we should let these mad Pakistanis destroy the world for in case we were to tell them something, their “democractic” governement would become weak….

    beautiful logic, uncle….

    [Reply]

    vinod Reply:

    Dear Mr Vijay Kumar,
    You are so learned dear nephew that you wouldn’t understand. I don’t intend spending more time with you on this question. Thanx.

  • Anil Kumar

    Precisely any endorsement from india earns instant RAW agent epithet in pakistan.

    We used to be like this in 70’s when anyone who spoke against Indira gandhi and her autocracy used to be termed CIA agent.

    [Reply]

  • http://Instablogs.com Anil Maheshwari

    Mr. Sharma informs us that Zardari wants to stick to the post. Even a cursory glance on the Medieval Indian rulers is enough to highlight the point that the Muslim rulers followed only one dictum “Takht ya Takhta” (Crown or gallows).

    [Reply]

  • vijay kumar

    THE NEW REVOLUTIONARY FORMULA FOR TACKLING PAKISTAN !!

    ===== T H E R E V E R S E B R A I N W A S H ====

    Hiii everyone,

    All of us converge here with different formulas for tackling Pakistan; some like Vinodji are a bit innocent and see a silver lining, where others can only see suicide bombers. Some like Usman, our friend from Pakistan want a genuine promotion of Indo- Pak ties, yet is not willing to believe all the evil things his country promotes.

    Some like Paritosh have given up totally and feel that Pakistanis cannot be redeemed.

    But now I have a new formula, which can change things for ever— THE REVERSE BRAINWASH.

    If they can brainwash toddlers, kindergarten kids, teenagers and older people to blow themselves to reach jannat, we can do a reverse brainwash to expose and shame the suicide bombing industry to die a natural death….

    Till now, the assembly line of jehad in Pakistan works on the principle of brainwashing youth with a stick and carrot policy. The carrot being a promise of a place in jannat and money to the relatives of the suiicide bomber.

    We can lead a media campaign on highlighting how insane, how cruel, how evil this suicide bombing industry is.

    Till now the suicide bombers has been portrayed as brave, dyeing a worthy death

    We can highlight something else. Like….

    Is’nt there something sick in the Pakistani nation where fathers would want their sons blown up just to get five lakhs; don’t Pakistani mothers ever cry when they see their own children, their organs and eyes being smashed to smithereens… or is the five lakhs they get for producing a suicide bomber too huge an amount?

    When a religious preacher uses religion to blow up a human being, is he not killing his own religion??

    Kasab reached Indian shores thinking he would acheive Jannat while his father got ten lakhs. Let us make fun of fathers who earn money from seeing the kidneys, eyes and limbs of their children blowing up…

    What love and respect would Pakistanis have for Non Muslims — Christians, Jews or HIndus. Forget this, the jehadis and the religious brigade which now controls most of Pakistan is even willing to kill all liberal Muslims; A BBC report showed that even for a small transgression like rolling up pajamas, a school teacher was killed in Peshawar.

    Maybe a joke book on the people who think they are becoming more religious by killing people who roll up pajamas,….

    If these aspects are higlighted, if we make the suicide bomber seem like a moron, if we paint him as an idiot and not a hero,… we could well tarnish the glamour, suicide boombing has for brainwashed youth.

    But in doing so we have to make sure not to hurt the feeling of Muslims or insult Islam.
    [Reply]

    [Reply]

    Paritosh Reply:

    your kind of ideas , if applied (unfortunately) would make India a butt of jokes over the world. first of all the idea of reverse brainwashing that you have suggested, would hardly work because the effect of Islamic brainwashing is everlasting. and even if it does, is it gonna effect the other “to be terrorists” back in Pakistan?? they gruesomely kill thousands of people every year , and shamelessly claim that they have proudly served their religion. any approach by peaceful means or negotiation isnt gonna work.

    the only language Pakistan would understand is that of fire power , and India needs to talk in that , before its too late.

    [Reply]

  • Nikhil

    Vinod,

    What do you think could bring the multiple poles of power in Pakistan reasonably together and speak in single voice? We know that multiple powers and multiple voices creates confusion, especially for other countries that deal with Pakistan. Do you think that Pakistan has used this fog of confusion as an excuse to get away from its responsibilities to end terrorism directed towards other countries?

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

    vinod Reply:

    Dear Nikhil,
    Almost impossible to make all of them speak in one voice— though there could be situations where they acquiesce with the Army (the most powerful of them all) in silence. I think dealing with the Army while keeping the elected regime in the loop is an approach that could fetch dividends. But for that to succeed,we need to build trust (easier said than done in the short-term) and change the mindset of treating each other as eternal enemies.

    [Reply]

    Nikhil Reply:

    Vinod,

    I thought we’ve been building trust since last ten years. Hasn’t taken us far, has it?

    [Reply]

  • Rajiv

    Its futile to write about Pakistan. Its such a throughly dishonest entity , so fully, institutionally decitful and deviant that any rational appraisal of it is not possible.

    Any contact with it can only bring trouble and grief. I just wish, India maintained the lowest possible contacts with this entity , until it shows minimal civility.

    [Reply]

  • Usman Chaudhry

    Quite agree with you Vinod saab. The President is sitting duck surronded by troubles, I believe it was destined to be. Supreme Court’s ruling will null Musharaff’s NRO and his dictatorship regime to pardon all cases of corruption against crocks. A sigh of relief for people and headache for President 10%. Nevertheless, with a lame leg he should continue his term. A lesson to be learned by followers. For India – the question is still there “who to talk?”.

    [Reply]

    Paritosh Reply:

    Pakistan is nothing but a pseudo-existent self destructive entity that will meet its final destination (annhilation) leaving a trail of destruction and blood in its progressive (but foolish) neighbour India.

    [Reply]

  • Atul

    Dear Vinod,

    Where will Zardari go once he is shorn of power? I am sure the Taliban, and a few of his enemies will want to “fix” him.

    Is it possible that he is looking for an escape from Pakistan?

    Please share your views

    [Reply]

    vinod Reply:

    Dear Atul,
    Zardari has no option but to stay put in Pakistan— with or without the presidency. He has the Bhutto legacy to keep for his children to take over at some stage. He might be corrupt but he isn’t a coward. He spent many years in jail without compromising or entering into a deal with Sharif or Musharraf.
    There are some other qualities about the man not many people know. He is a great friend and could risk his image or the requirements of propriety to keep that. Something akin to our own Mr Chandrashekhar— who built relations across party lines—- and was known to visit friends imprisoned for corruption or other crimes.

    [Reply]

    Anil Maheshwari Reply:

    Mr. Sharma conveniently forgets to tell us that Mr. Zardari spent nearly eleven years in jail on corruption charges. To quote Seymour M. Hersh in The New Yorker (Nov. 16,2009) ” He (Zardari) is widely known in Pakistan as Mr. Ten Per Cent, a reference to the commissions he allegedly took on government contracts when Bhutto (Benazir) was in power, and is seen by many Pakistanis as little more than a crook who has grown too close to America; his approval ratings are in the teens. He is chatty but guarded, proud but defensive.”

    With this ten per cent money he can befriend any one even across the barrier and visitors in particular.

    [Reply]

    vinod Reply:

    I did mention his years in jail. The point I had sought to make was that he could have struck a deal to get out and live in exile— like his wife or Sharif when he was facing treason charges brought by the Musharraf regime. At that point, Zardari had managed a major image makeover that could have lasted longer had he not entered the presidency (post-Benazir) after letting it be known that he’d not take power a la Sonia Gandhi.

    (Dr.) B.N.Anand Reply:

    Dear Vinod Sharma ji
    It is too much( on your part) ,Sir,to compare Mr. Zardari with some one called as a young turk leader at some time in our country. Mr. Chandrashekhar was never near the image of Mr. 10%. Mr. Chandrashekhar always had a high moral character and took on even Mrs. Gandhi during emergency. He never compromised in his political life and never kept his seat hot for any one like Mr. Zardari is doing for his children. As for as Mr. Chandrashekhar visiting his corrupt friends in jail, he never believed in mixing politics with personal relationship. He was very confident of his honest image. He was not afraid to visit his corrupt friends as he was sure he could not be tagged as a corrupt person visiting corrupt people. He never compromised with corrupt politicians.Sorry, I beg to differ with you on this account.
    (Dr.) B.N.Anand

    [Reply]

    Atul Reply:

    Dear Dr Anand,

    I think Vinod was likening Zardari’s ability of building relations across party lines to our own Mr Chandrashekhar. That all, and nothing more!!

    And to Anil’s point, if money could buy friends (not favours), then there would be very few rich people or politicians with enemies!!

    I am told that Zardari is known as “Yaaron ka Yaar” amongst his social cirlce, and despite his corrupt image, has a fiercely loyal following in his jaagir.

    vinod Reply:

    Dear Dr Anand,
    I had known Chandrashekharji personally for a very very long period. I had great respect for the man. I did not compare him as a politician with Zardari. I just referred to a habit of his that– in my view– did him a lot of harm in terms of popular thinking.
    The political class cannot afford to come across as being insensitive to public sentiments. They must keep the personal side of their life to behind closed doors. For instance, did you see Indira Gandhi weeping publicly after she lost her younger son or Sonia or her children after a bomber blew up Rajiv Gandhi. They grieved but with the dignity that befits their family history.
    A ruler cannot afford to shed tears in public as his/her job is to wipe the tears of the dispossed. Another example that comes to my mind in this regard is that of the Kennedys.

  • (Dr.) B.N.Anand

    Dear Vinod Sharma ji
    I believe while the political parties are busy to find ways to sort out the situation arising out of quashing of NRO ordinance by the apex court in Pakistan, the army, being one of the strong five power centres in Pakistan, seems to be watching the situation from the sidelines.The present quiet seemingly neutral stance of the army in the present political scenario may be a sort of lull before a storm waiting to overtake the political affairs in that country. While we would wish and like the democratic forces to take firm roots in our neighbour, I doubt people , except the political class , will have enough patience to keep on watching the present political confusion indefinitely. I have a feeling that sooner or later, the army is going to take over that country. It will not be at all surprising that history may again repeat and the present fragile democratic system may collapse. Dr. MMS is quite right in being skeptical about starting any fruitful dialogue with any one in the current situation. The whole govt. is under shadow of aftermath of quashing of NRO ordinace. That is what President Zardari had feared most before agreeing to reinstate the chief justice and that is what exactly has happened. So, it is always better for our country to wait and watch till the political climate clears up in our neighbouring country.

    In any case, your comments were thoughtful analysis of the current political situation prevailing in our neighbouring country.
    Regards
    (Dr.) B.N.Anand

    [Reply]

    Paritosh Reply:

    @(Dr.) B.N.Anand

    the current political situation in Pakistan is as turbulent as it always had been. on one side there is this Army and on the other there are these “democratic” parties. besides there are the Islamists too. however Indians are always under a wrong impression that if suppose the rule of democracy prevails in Pakistan , that nation will become India’s good friend and relations will improve. the wrong perception within Indians that needs to be cleared is that “democratic Pakistanis are pro- India”. whatever be the govt in Pakistan, India should be in an offensive mode during tensions(like currently) , and if Pakistan really becomes a peaceful nation, its better for India to like an indifferent neighbour.

    remember, Pakistanis will always be anti-India, no matter what kind of govt comes to power

    [Reply]

    (Dr.) B.N.Anand Reply:

    @ Paritish
    Yes sir, I totally agree with you. The best option at the moment in dealing with our neighbour is to adopt an attitude of beningn neglect. We should not be unnecessarily obsessed with a desire to resume dialogue with our neighbour till the time is ripe. That requires an objective analysis of the intentions of our neighbour and our country should never succumb to the pressure of starting the dialogue process and again allow incidents like parliament attack and 26/11 to happen again. After all, these events took place while we were in the dialogue process. It is time now that our govt. adopts a more strategic policy for the dialogue process to start.. It hardly matters whether there is a military govt. or a democratic govt. in Pakistan. In either of the two situations, the mindset of majority of people of Pakistan towards our country will never change
    Regards
    BNA

    [Reply]

    Paritosh Reply:

    @(Dr.) B.N.Anand

    if you want to get an exact info on how Pakistan plays the double game , please read Vir Sanghvi’s article dated 21st december in HT Mumbai edition. by the way India’s need of the day is to strengthen itself rather than bothering about relations with Pakistan.

    thank you

  • Rajiv

    Mumbai attack trials

    Nothing exemplifies the difference between India and Pakistan perhaps better than the Mumbai trials.
    In India, Kasab has been tried in a open public court. Even though, Kasab has made outrageous lies , he has been offered a public hearing and freedom to make any statement he wants. That only serves and re-inforces justice, even though it may seem that the defendent is mocking and abusing it.

    Compare that to Pak’s handling of the Mumbai trials. It has conducted the trials in utter darkness. There is not even restricted media coverage of the trials. Its totally behind closed doors and looks very much like a sham proceeding.

    India is an open book, Pakistan looks every bit of a devious entity, with the state complicit in the Mumbai terrorism and seeking to hide the truth.

    [Reply]

    Paritosh Reply:

    you cannot entirely blame Pakistan for India’s such pitiable condition. India , over the years has acted like a moron , who cannot learn from the past. any self-respecting nation would have ended the trial long back and Kasab would have been hacked to death much earlier. but here that nation is India which not a self-respecting nation for sure. the trial is run unnecessarily for a longer time.

    the trial was necessary when it was to prove that the perpetrators were p@kees but it has been taken to useless extensions now, just to prove whether if Kasab was really there.

    [Reply]

    Saarthak Reply:

    Got to agree with that. Barring the media from the trial in Pakistan looks quite dubious, whatver the security reasons they offer

    [Reply]

  • http://www.rediff.com Paritosh

    @(Dr.) B.N.Anand

    if you want to get an exact info on how Pakistan plays the double game , please read Vir Sanghvi’s article dated 21st december in HT Mumbai edition. by the way India’s need of the day is to strengthen itself rather than bothering about relations with Pakistan.

    [Reply]

    (Dr.) B.N.Anand Reply:

    @Paritosh
    Thanks for the reference. I did see that particular article by Vir Sanghvi as I always keep a track of COUNTERPOINT column on every SUNDAY HT. This particular article indeed depicted the true analysis of Pakistan strategy in dealing with our country.
    Thanks once again
    BNA

    [Reply]

  • Gopal

    Dear Mr. Vijay,
    Can You please forward your e-mail addres to gopal2to@yahoo.in

    Regards

    [Reply]

  • kyle davis

    Another very mis leading blog. Facts people Facts. You cant handle truth. Ron Paul is the best candidate to go against This Obomanation of our country!!!!

    [Reply]

  • Abu Ahmed

    Losing hope is a sin, for that means you do not have faith and repose trust in God.

    [Reply]

  • Plumbline

    1 Corinthians 13:13
    Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    [Reply]

  • casey.jones

    People like you who refuse to accept and admit the problems with our country are the ones who really keep India back. Admitting is the first step they say. Clearly as so many young Indians defend a severely broken system under a false sense of patriotism, India will not have a chance at recovery. So good job keep heckling people who point the obvious.

    [Reply]

  • DEEPAK VOHRA

    all officals responsible for protecting and looking ater these animals shoiuld be criminally prosecuted & fired. All responsible for killing, poarching, maiming, poisioning, trapping, torturing these animals should be hanged.

    [Reply]

  • raji

    devastation of nature due to modernism/commercialism/deforestation/.. Nature does well with minimal human intervention. Our help is only needed when we have almost devastated them to extinction. And does india have the expertise and sincerity!!!

    [Reply]

  • gee

    It is alarming to read about this kind of poaching activity. Sooner the GOI wakes up the better it is for the jungles of India. Our famous jungles will fall silent soon with this rate of poaching. The nation requires an answer from authorities being paid by the nation. You are paid to protect and your failure needs an explanation and quick remedy.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/siggavala2 Sigridur Johannsdottir

    i live in iceland but i want to help.. how can i?

    [Reply]

  • Stacey

    It all comes down to funding and education. Our governments do not give protection of our living world sufficient priority, because the masses of most countries are more concerned with being able to afford the latest gadget from Walmart than saving a species. We need to start educating at a very earlier age that the world with all it’s ecosystems it’s more important to our well being than the acquisition of any “thing”.

    [Reply]

  • Dr.Yogesh Sharma

    Killings
    should not be Adored

    Nation celebrated Eid-ul-Zuha on Saturday, October 27, 2012, with
    extraordinary enthusiasm and fervor. Politicians, bureaucrats, media etc., were
    vying with each other in throwing Mubarakbad
    to Muslims as if they were participating formula racing. Almost all the
    newspapers and electronic channels were showing the pictures of helpless,
    innocent, voiceless, to be slaughtered goats, camels, buffalos, with the first
    sun ray. This animal sale/purchase was being held on the main roads and
    highways causing massive traffic jams. Similarly Eid namaz was also read on the
    roads and most of the roads witnessed traffic jams. Administration remained
    mute witness to all this. But, alas! In this secular nation where every body
    talk very highly about animal rights and
    non-violence, millions and millions of animals are butchered to celebrate a
    festival and joined by our so called secular leaders and media. Perhaps we
    Indians are hypocrites of the highest order.

    In this country even insects, rats, frogs etc., are not allowed to be
    killed even for medical and research purposes. The gangs of animal lovers are
    there to make big hue and cry on even minor harassment to animals. But on mass
    killing all remained silent. After the festival of Eid-ul-Zuha all the drains,
    sewers were filled with blood and flesh of animals. Road were littered with
    animal skins and bones. Every where cities were stinking. The most dangerous
    part of all this is that deadly bio-medical waste breeds deadly deceases and
    viruses. Even for deadly dengue virus this bio-medical waste is the best place
    to breed.

    But all these secularists, media, NGOs and activists are very vociferous
    in defaming Hindu festivals, like Dipawali (Noise Pollution), Holi ( Color
    Infection), Durga Statue Immersion ( Water/River Pollution) but they are all
    silent on this mass killing of animals, noise pollution and traffic jams (Namaz
    On Loudspeaker on high decibel and Namaz on Roads), Bio-Medical Pollution
    (Animal Killings).

    If this type of animal killing continues that day is not very far when in
    India
    goats, camels, buffalos etc., will be endangered animals. So adoration of
    killing must be stopped in the national interest.

    [Reply]

  • Demi

    I’m an Indian and reside in Mumbai, and regularly travel on these traffic-laden, crater-like roads.
    There are people among us who want to change the way things work in the system, but it’s so terribly hard. It’s unfortunate that even the senior citizens are focused on short term material gains, such that it becomes very difficult for people like us to change such a deeply ingrained mindset. It’s true we’ve slowly turned to materialism in a big way, as I see it’s difficult to converse about much beyond phones, clothes, shoes etc in my age group (25yrs). Of course, I can’t generalise.
    Most of us are probably so caught up in “getting there”, feeling we’ve become “developed” or probably reside in a place recently turning into an attractive destination for foreigners, sometimes we just try to emulate OUR version of them. It’s so stupid.
    Anyway, hope people like us could give India a better picture, since, although I am very aware of its faults, it’s still a matter of pride to me (just by it being my homeland) and I wish we could come into ourselves, by upholding our own cultural strengths and combining it with those of other countries we see.

    [Reply]