Sunday, April 5, 2015

Daily Times Editorial April 6, 2015

Zardari’s game plan Bad weather in Garhi Khuda Buksh is said to have forced the cancellation of the traditional main function on April 4 every year before the mausoleum of the martyrs of the Bhutto family. Instead, the commemorative rally on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death anniversary was held in Naudero. Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari arrived to a tumultuous welcome by the workers at the venue, accompanied by his daughter Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari. Conspicuous by his absence was Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairperson of the party, whose prolonged staying away in London has set off a storm of speculation regarding differences with his father, all of which has of course been studiously denied by the PPP. Addressing the rally, Zardari did not add anything new to the collective fund of what the PPP represents now in its alarmingly weaker position as a mere provincial party in Sindh rather than the all-Pakistan party it was once famous for. He played the perpetual theme of the PPP’s martyrs and the party’s struggles against dictators and for democracy. In the same vein, he vowed to stand by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his hour of need if democracy was threatened. Interestingly, Zardari also let slip what he expects in return. He argued that just as the PPP had stood by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in hard times, he expected the government of the PML-N to stand by the PPP, and particularly him (Zardari). He reminded Nawaz Sharif not to make the kind of compromises he did last time he was in power, which left Zardari languishing in jail for long years. Unfortunately, the PPP co-chairperson still carries the stigma of Mr Ten Percent in public perception despite nothing ever having been proved against him in any case. Given the current penchant of the military establishment to go after all elements responsible for bad law and order, corruption and misgovernance in the past, Asif Ali Zardari may be betraying some level of anxiety by appealing to Nawaz Sharif to stand by him and come to his aid and succour in case… Addressing Imran Khan, Zardari congratulated him over the formation of the judicial commission the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader had been wanting since the 2013 elections but invited him to return to parliament and join hands with the opposition to make the Election Commission of Pakistan financially independent too after its achieving formal empowerment. (The PTI core committee has decided yesterday to return to parliament and its elected members will participate in the joint session of parliament today). He cautioned the PTI leader that the mere setting up of a judicial commission to probe alleged rigging in the 2013 elections was inadequate to prevent in future the negative role of the returning officers. He also felt the terms of reference of the judicial commission may not be up to the mark to achieve its desired objectives. Turning to his own party ranks, Asif Ali Zardari warned his ministers and members of the party to improve their performance and connectedness with the people or be prepared to forfeit their tickets in the next elections. Admitting the PPP in power in the last government had not delivered, Zardari could have done himself and his party a favour by reflecting on his own political style since assuming the office of co-Chairperson in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The enduring image of the PPP-led previous government’s tenure is the sight of the jialas (committed PPP workers) desperately trying at various venues to gain access to then president Zardari and being rebuffed and even set upon by the police to prevent them disturbing the repose of the president. Going by his remarks, it appears that the example set by Zardari himself has by now percolated down to his followers, members and ministers (now confined only to Sindh). If so, a glance backwards in the mirror may do the co-Chairperson and the party some good and make his appeal to his party members and ministers more credible.

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