Zardari has given up little by keeping party post

Asif Ali Zardari has given up the draconian powers bequeathed to the Presidential office by military dictators like Gen. Zia-Ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf. His signatures on April 19 on the Constitution 18th Amendment haven’t lifted his Presidency from the political quagmire that has been its bane since the very inception.

Zardari’s crisis of credibility remains. He has indeed given up powers to send parliament packing or handpick the services chiefs. But the general perception is that he’d continue to be the super boss in his capacity as co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party. Even in his newly empowered avatar, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is a lesser leader in the party driven by the Bhutto legacy, the true heir to which is Zardari’ son Bilawal who’s the PPP chairman.

One cannot perhaps imagine a situation where Gilani recommends dissolution of the House or appointment of the new army chief without prior endorsement by the party high command (read Zardari or his son Bilawal).

Many Pakistani observers believe Zardari’s image could have risen in popular perception had the PPP’s track record of governance not been not all that abysmal. The reforms that have restored broadly the 1973 Constitution piloted by the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto are meaningless for a vast majority of Pakistanis reeling under the weight of unemployment, power cuts and abject poverty for want of effective administration at the center and in the provinces.

It was Zardari’s anxiety to sustain himself in the presidency that saw him bowing to articulate sections of the civil society (who wanted the PM to wield the powers he held) and the Army. As brought out by Gen. Kayani’s key role in the recent strategic dialogue in Washington, the latter’s sway over foreign policy issues is all pervasive, be it the US, India or Afghanistan.

The new Constitution adequately addresses questions of federalism, provincial autonomy and supremacy of Parliament. But a judgment on is efficacy or the lack of it will have to await a situation where the president isn’t also the head of the ruling party. Zardari hasn’t, unlike the previous PPP president Farooq Leghari (who fell out with Benazir Bhutto during his tenure) given up his party allegiance. The issue is pending adjudication in a court of law but past precedents show the incumbent president in extremely bad light especially when he had – in the immediate aftermath of Benazir’s assassination — presented himself as “the Sonia Gandhi of Pakistan.”

In retrospect, the parallel looks odious. Zardari lacks Sonia’s grace and the de facto authority she has over the affairs of the Congress and the government it leads. Zardari’s insecurities manifest glaringly at the solemn ceremony at which he put his seal on the 18th Amendment.

The new Constitution is the result of an unprecedented political consensus between parties on either side of the divide. But a clutch of PPP workers at the presidency were allowed to eulogize Zardari in the manner they hailed ZAB and his daughter. “Zardari sada sher hai, baki haer-pher hai (Zardari’s the king, everything else is dubious).”

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  • Ramesh Sharma Amritsar

    Dear Vinod, In my view the amendment of the constitution cleared by prez zardari might be a long term strategy for the future PM of pakistan from bhutoo legacy ie Bilawal


    vinod sharma Reply:

    You may be right Sir. The PPP’s PM has to be either from the family or somebody patronised by the Bhutto scion.


    Akash Reply:

    When is Hafiz Saeed going to be put behind bars? I heard he is going to address a gathering in Kashmir.
    Please enlighten us. We don’t care about Zardari, Kayani, or some other idiots. All of them are rascals of the first order.


  • http://- Rajeev

    It hardly matters. Pakistan’s contituition is flexible. It will be overturned when next president or dictator takes over..Nothing will change.
    Pakistan is a joke..nothing else.


  • vijay kumar


    In an earlier blog, you too had eulogised Zardari, in the manner of a court poet ! :)

    Anyway in my view, Zardari could still be India’s friend relatively as compared to say Gilani, Qureshi or others on the radar who are directly linked to terrorists.

    The sad fact is the 10 year period after 9/11 has not been fully utilised by India to spread its wings in Asia andthe subcontinent.

    Now things have come full circle.

    With Hillary openly flirting with Shah Qureshi, America has agin been seduced by Pakistan and is going out of the way to prop it up.

    Maybe we need another round of a George Bush type of President who was a true democrat and good for India.

    Of course idiots in India like Mani Aiyar, Arundhati Roy and some newspaper dumbos only made fun of Bush. We need to take care that such idiots do not have a say in our policy formulations !


    vinod sharma Reply:

    Dear Vijay,
    Maybe Bush was good for India. But his Republican party was rejected by his own people. That’s the test of democracy, not the ex-Prez’s democratic credentials as seen by your discerning eye.


    shiney Reply:

    Oh really!! So when did popularity and winning elections really count for secular mediamen in this country? I thought someone called Narendra won a thumping majority second time around, but i suppose thats a downright communal right wing comment, right?
    When America votes out Bush, its a test of Democracy, when Narendra Modi gets voted in, then its testimony to communal nature of Gujarat and not democracy right??


    Rajeev Reply:

    Nice one.

    Mohan Ramchandani Reply:


    Good reply. But Mr. Sharma will not say anything on your comments.

    vinod sharma Reply:

    Dear Shiney,
    U obviously love Bush and Modi. But the distinction here is that the Gujarat CM is unwelcome in Bush’s country and most of the Western world. He’s facing a Supreme Court appointed SIT but has no qualms about appearing before it as a sitting CM—- a dubious first of its kind.
    I am sure this wouldn’t cut any ice with you. Yet I thought its worth a mention.

    Rajeev Reply:

    Not a good enough rebuttal. You are getting rusty.

    Isn’t it ironic that Rajiv Gandhi who got 4000 sikhs hacked is your hero?

    shiney Reply:

    You think Bush is welcome in Iraq or Palestine or Iran? :) Ok i know Iraq and US arent to be compared, but they are sovereign countries please!! If any of the muslim countries could stand upto US, we would have had Bush facing war crimes tribunal as well.
    SO PLEASE MIGHT ISNT RIGHT…..if it is then what applies to Bush applies to mr.modi as well.

    What US does to Narendra Modi should not be the basis for something to be counted as right or wrong and for god’s sake i neither love Bush nor Modi i am only asking for commentators to be judicious in their write ups, and be fair to all left or right……..lets judge people based on their actions and not colour it with if the same action is done by congress its right but if its done by bjp its wrong.

    Vijay Kumar Reply:

    @vinod sharma

    I guess Bush was not rejected, but his party was.

    Obama and his administration seem weak. It may be a matter of time before the Pakistani nuclear button passes onto the hands of the Taliban. We should be prepared for a nuclear war in the next decade.

    Sad times ahead.

    I don’t know why some idiots cannot see that.

    One way to counter this would be to build up an axis with Russia and maybe China which also get affected if and when Pakistan blows up in a nuclear armageddon.


  • shiney

    Why do columnists in India waste so much time on losers like Pak? They dont have anything worth talking about, except how not to destroy your own country. Atleast write about the lessons to be learnt from our neighbour’s fate, rather than go on about the silly procedural things that they do, which no one apart from they themselves takes really seriously.
    I mean if anyone believes, apart from the Army, there is any other person who commands real power in that joke of a country, then that person is either too innocent for this world or out of a asylum.


  • Rajiv

    What does the Pak 18th constitutional amendment mean to India ?

    Nothing really. The Pak military is the supreme power in Pakistan.
    Pak economy survives on regular foreign aid to keep the state from bankruptcy and to finance its military.
    So Pak military needs a so called civilian entity that can collect foreign aid, assistance so that the military can maintain its life style.
    Thats the role of PPP government as far as the military is concerned – the begging department of the state.
    Any one interested in Pak affairs should read the UN report on Benazir assasination. The UN inspectors were shocked at the all pervasive influence and presence of ISI and military intelligence in every nook, corner and aspect of Pak life , paralysing all other organs of state.
    That ISI and military intelliugence directly reports to army and runs the state in all its criminal endeavours.


  • Praveen Saxena

    Why waste time on Zardaris and Gilanis when it is Kiyani who matters.


    Rajiv Reply:

    Well said.


  • Usman Chaudhry

    The hurdle is still there despite signing 18th ammendment and passed by senate and parliment. Who stands next in line is judiciary, chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has raised his eyes brows over certain clauses and already lawyers are preparing for another voice. Are they trying to imitate the Indian Supreme court?? This time Aitzaz Ahsan has already made his intentions clear and sided with the ruling government despite difference with PPP elite, clearly stating that Supreme Court should not poke unnecessary nose in parliment affairs.


  • Rajiv

    Pakistan supreme court is a throughly politicized entity and whose only goal is self-preservation.
    In fact, its just little less corrupt than the Army.

    While the judiciary is active in taking up cases against current civilian government, its a different matter when it comes to the military. There is a case pending against Military and ISI regarding former ISI DG Asad Durrani for distributing funds among politicians. …
    . The court has been sitting on that case for many years. The supreme court in Pakistan lives on the mercy of ISI while it froths in the mouth against others.


    Usman Chaudhry Reply:

    Sir! for your good knowledge, last three years are the road to recovery. We witnessed court action against ISI and intelligence agencies for missing personal cases during Musharaff rule. And I’m aware of many more where supreme court is agile. It’s been so far a good come back. The tough challange lies now against BB murder case. I wish well to judiciary.


  • Rajiv

    To those, interested in understanding the nature Pakistan supreme court, should read this.
    The Pak Supreme court, is activist against Zardari ( who of course has many sins ) , but is protective and submissive to greater crimes by Pak army and ISI.

    Here is noted columnist Amir Mir writing in the News.
    Saturday, August 29, 2009
    By By Amir Mir

    LAHORE: Former chief justice of Pakistan Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui’s statement that the Inter Services Intelligence dished out millions of rupees to different politicians during President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s regime to manipulate the 1990 elections, followed by Asghar Khan’s demand that the present chief justice should re-open the said case which he had filed in 1996 to take it to its logical end, has dusted off an old controversy, which is set to blemish the democratic credentials of many leading politicians of the country.

    Chief justice (retd) Siddiqui told a private TV channel that the ISI was an intelligence agency and it should not interfere in national politics, or be used against politicians. Seasoned politician Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan had gone one step ahead in asking Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to reopen the case he had filed with the apex court almost 13 years ago with a view to take the culprits to task. His case is pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan following the November 1997 unceremonious exit of former chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah from his office at the hands of the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The case had originated on June 16, 1996 from a letter by Asghar Khan to the then chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah, asking him to take appropriate action on then interior minister Naseerullah Babar’s statement in the National Assembly. Babar had stated on the floor of the house: “The ISI collected some Rs 140 million from the Habib Bank Ltd and distributed among a number of politicians prior to the 1990 elections with a view to manipulate the results in favour of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad.” Asghar Khan’s letter was subsequently converted into a constitutional petition (19 of 1996) by the chief justice under Article 184(3), envisaging the human rights jurisdiction of the apex court. According to the petitioner, Asghar Khan, he had sent the first letter with the sole purpose of exposing the role of the ISI in manoeuvring the election results and supporting its favourite politicians to fulfil political ends of the establishment. “You never know how many elections have been rigged and manoeuvred by the ISI in the past,” Asghar had stated in his letter to the CJ, adding the ISI moves since 1988 were actually aimed at defeating the PPP and, therefore, the matter be adjudged and action be taken against those found guilty.

    The respondents in the said case were former Army chief Mirza Aslam Beg, Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, ex-director-general of the ISI Directorate, and Younis Habib, ex-chief of ex-Mehran Bank Ltd, then confined to Central Jail, Karachi. However, the case could not be decided because of the premature dismissal of chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah. He was followed by CJPs Ajmal Mian, Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, Irshad Hasan Khan, Bashir Jehangiri, Shaikh Riaz Ahmed, Nazim Hussain Siddiqui and now Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Yet, even after a lapse of 13 years, the Human Rights Petition No 19/96 remains shelved as none of the chief justices after Sajjad Shah had dared to invite the wrath of the mighty military and intelligence establishment by reopening the controversial case. In his written reply to the apex court and subsequently reported by the media, Aslam Beg had stated: “More serious damage has been caused to the reputation and the goodwill of the armed forces by Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan in bringing the petition before this Honourable Court and raising an issue before the apex court which of course would receive great publicity and would cause greater damage by scandalisation in the media… That dragging the ex-service chief to the courts on a letter may be detrimental to the prestige, honour and dignity of the institution he has once represented. That Asghar Khan has approached this august court with ulterior motives and his representation is based on mala fides.”

    Beg had stated in his written reply to the apex court: “That in early September [1990], Mr Younis Habib, then serving in the Habib Bank Ltd as Zonal Chief, had called on the answering respondent [Beg] and informed him that he was under instructions from the President’s [Ghulam Ishaq] Election Cell to make available a sum of Rs 140 million for supporting the elections of 1990.

    “That in 1990 the National Assembly of Pakistan was dissolved and the government of Ms Benazir Bhutto was dismissed. A caretaker government was formed to hold elections within 90 days. The then president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, had formed an Election Cell directly under him managed by Roedad Khan/Ijlal Haider Zaidi. That later on, the answering respondent was informed by Director-General, ISI, that various accounts were opened and the amount of Rs 140 million was deposited in those accounts directly by Younis Habib. Director-General, Inter Services Intelligence, made arrangements to distribute these amounts amongst the politicians belonging to various political parties and persons as instructed by the Election Cell.”

    The petition further stated: “That in 1975, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then prime minister, had created a Political Cell within the ISI organisation. As a result, the ISI was made responsible to the chief executive, i.e. the prime minister/president for all matters of national and political intelligence. The receipt of this amount by ISI from Younis Habib in 1990 was also under the directions of the Chief Executive. DG ISI also informed the answering respondent that funds so received were properly handled and the accounts were maintained and that Ghulam Ishaq was briefed by him on this matter.

    “That during this period, in his meeting with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the answering respondent had informed him about the donations made by Younis Habib and its utilisation by DG ISI under the instructions of the Presidentís Political Cell. That the petitioner has made the following allegations : (a) actions of Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and Lt-Gen Asad Durrani amounted to gross misconduct; (b) both have brought the armed forces of Pakistan into disrepute; (c) both have been guilty of undermining the discipline of the armed forces. That these allegations are false, based on mala fide, and unfounded. That DG had ISI acted within the limits of the ‘lawful command’ received from the President’s Election Cell. Definition of lawful command as interpreted by Pakistan Army Act Section 33 Note b(3) is: ‘A superior can give a command for the purpose of maintaining good order or suppressing a disturbance or for the execution of a military duty or regulation’, and Pakistan Army Act Section 33 Note b(11): ‘A civilian cannot give a ‘lawful command’ under this sub-section to a soldier employed under him; but it may well be the soldier’s duty as such to do the act indicated. That the actions of the respondent and Lt-Gen Asad Durrani did not amount to gross misconduct and the orders were carried out under a lawful command.”

    Afterwards, a former ISI DG, Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, had conceded in an affidavit submitted to the FIA that his political cell received Rs 140m from Younis Habib for distribution among the anti-PPP politicians at the behest of Aslam Beg.


    So why is the supreme court protecting Pak ISI ?


  • Vikram

    Zardari has the perfect looks for a wily and corrupt politician. if ever he gets kicked out of pak he can have a good career in hindi films as one with having to put on any makeup. i was really sad when he shaved off his wicked mustache. it went well with his evil grin. miya zardari always a pleasure .. did u guys see him trying to grope sarah palin on camera .. a lecher of the highest degree. the kayani guy resembles jinnah in looks doesn’t he ? and like him should be a conginetal hindu/ india hater. gilani looks funny and confused most of the time, trying to find ways to bump in manu singh and grabbing him in a clench for the cameras sake and the moment he is back in pakistan back to making anti India statements. wellll ..


  • vijay kumar


    hey the real recovery for Pakistan would be if the courts and the politicians take on Laskhar, Dawood ibrahim and other fanatics.

    Otherwise it is just a bit of showbusiness to get some more droplets of Americxan AId, part of which goes into the foreign accounts of Pakistani rulers. :) :) :)

    Don’t Pakistanis realise that the agenda of their government ultimately gets hijacked by terrorists?
    Or do most Paksitanis feel inferior that they will become lesser Muslims in case they do not support terror camps and fanatics?

    One good way for Pkistan would be to get secular principles into governance and education; allow different relgions to flower and declare Pakistan a secular state wehere relgion is a private matter.

    Since you once said that you want to pursue teaching, maybe you could start with a blog on how to make Pakistani education secular so that the end product from school is a humanity loving nerd and not a Lakhvi.

    With regards and cheers….



    sohail Reply:

    keep on dreaming they don’t cost anything.


  • Rajiv

    One problem with India is that we spend too much time thinking how Pakistan ruling army/ISI can be reformed, civilized and made less criminal.

    It has been a TOTAL wastage of time and resources, for last 60 years.

    We have to follow a policy of bening neglect to absolute disengagement with Pak because any engagement , no matter how well intentioned , will only invite more criminal conduct from Pak army and ISI.

    I will just give one example. In the Indus Water treaty, India has all the obligations as the waters flow from India to Pak. Through 3 wars initiated by Pakistan and over last 45 years, India has followed the treaty in letter and spirit , irrespective of how vile and criminal the conduct of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been.

    In fact, India has been too generous, as it does not fully draw the waters allowed to it under the Indus treaty, which to begin with was generous to Pakistan.

    What does India get in return ?

    Pakistan army and state , carries on a vile, false and baseless propoganda in Pakistan that India is stealing Pak waters !

    Its time India , followed the treaty to its letter, and fully drew the waters as allowed under the Indus treaty.
    Regarding any dispuites raised by Pakistan, its futile to negotiate with a party with crimninally dishonest intent to delay Indian projects. So any disputes should be immediately referred to Independent International judges as allowed under the treaty to deliver the judgement.


  • Nikhil

    With this 18th Amendment is Pakistan going to reinvent itself in to a democracy where the real power rests with the Parliament and not with its military? If not, why bother?


  • Tanzeel

    @ My Indian fellows,

    I have written something on the current situation of Pakistan as a response to Indian media and Indian commentators on HT blogs, please read and comment.



  • Guest

    Have been planning to visit Nepal, to refresh old, very pleasant memories but get deterred by reports of long hours of load shedding.


  • Dirgha Raj Prasai

    Dear Editor and Readers !
    Why USA- the democratic nation is involving to intervene Nepal? US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake Jr has exposed about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Inquiry on The respected countries representatives should understand that Nepal is passing unconstitutionally after the experiment of CA. Then, why they compelled to pass the ordinance of–’Trust and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Disappearances.’ which was forwarded by the government to the office of president by the government to the office of president on 28 August 2012. After the experiment of Constituent Assembly, the Interim Constitution and the PREZ and the head of the government the PM have already lost their existence. Now the president and PM have been exercising in futility in the name of so-called consensus. Is it not a naked intervention to the Nepalese Internal affairs? It is very shameful and regretting for all Nepalese people. It is a matter of grief that the democratic nations-the EU diplomats have directed exposed attacking to our internal affairs. And then it is very suspicious that secretly how had and have been involving these diplomats to destroy the Nepalese Hindu religious identities for Christianity with huge amount of money. So, we Nepalese people suggest them with requesting not do so according to the international diplomatic norms. It is not the good manner to the EU diplomats.
    They should understand thye international diplomatic norms.

    President Rambaran Yadav and PM
    Baburam Bhattarai have already lost their posts after the death of Constituent
    Assembly (CA). Their posts are not in existence. The dead interim constitution
    cannot secure the post of President, as well as Baburam’s post of PM. With the
    dissolution of the CA, the interim constitution was cremated. Down with persons
    willing to bargain off the country for power positions! So in a sense, Rambaran
    Yadav, who opened the gates of treason, is considered more fatal than the leader
    of treacherous acts–Baburam Bhattarai. So, this nonsense element should be
    removed immediately. Foreign powers especially-RAW, CIA and EU nations are
    investing their full energy to fulfill their selfish interests for
    establishment of Christianity in Nepal, and carry out the campaign
    of Free-Tibet. The republic setup is not in the interest of this country,
    instead it is fatal. We will honorably fight against such anti national
    injustice resonant in republic setup and secularism. So, all the organs of the
    state shall unite, and in accordance with the 1990 Constitution and in presence
    of the King, we shall strengthen this Hindu Kingdom.
    If not China will come with communism for its security. If Monarchy is in Nepal, China thinks its security. But in the name of republic, gradually, China comes with communism, then not only Nepal India also coverts as a anarchist-Communist nation in South Asia. So, the safe the democratic sense in this Zone, Monarchical democratic system should be maintain in Nepal for the sake of Nepal, India as well as China. It is the duty of all Nepalese, whether in political parties or outside, Nepal
    Army, and even the nationalists in the Maoists’ party to save this
    Please, send me comment with arguments.

    Thank you.
    Political Analyst-Nepal
    Dirgha Raj Prasai
    Kathmandu, Nepal


  • Joseph Kurian

    Is it in the interests of the common man, the citizens of Nepal, that the ones in power, debating in Kathmandu, cannot agree to form a constitution for 6 years?!?!
    People are around who suffer with no power or even the basic feature of a decent road to a hospital; inflation is at a high…the list can go on!


  • Himmy

    $30,000 (Rs 1.6 crore at the current exchange rate).

    Who did this awesome maths ! $30,000 = 16 Lacs !


  • anil

    There are two kinds of people who are always satisfied.

    Who are on top of the things that is happening around and keep track of whats happening and whats expected.
    Who are totally ignorant, so, nothing to care about and are thus blissful even if he/she is to be sacrificed like a goat!

    What signs Congress/UPA has shown in last 5 years that it indeed belongs to category one?

    People are not so foolish like the blogger here to reach a wiser conclusion!

    Last but not the least:
    To be a good spin doctor one require more then enough skill: first to cover up the real truth then put their own false viewpoint on top of the truth so the truth is kept hidden from the public! One would have expected simply acknowledge one’s mistake and move from there would have been simplest and best thing to do! Did not they said honesty is the best policy? Well, there is another saying: A donkey will always has to muddy the water before drinking it!


  • Yashwanth Dhakshana

    the “wishful thinking” is from educated scholars and thinkers though. wouldn’t their thoughts, which are based on math models, be more valid then yours, which is clearly based off pessimism?