New Age Islam
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Current Affairs ( 26 Jun 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Zardari's Speech: The Real Causes and Effects

By Faheem Amir

27 June, 2015

Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Leader and Former President of Pakistan

Pakistani politicians, if not all, the majority of them, are dishonest, corrupt, unprincipled, unpatriotic, power-hungry, greedy, immoral, cruel, and cunning, traitors and criminals. They instigate hatred, inflame regionalism, promote sectarianism and encourage extremism, feudalism and tribalism for preserving their own partisan interests.

They even use violence, targeted killers, organised criminal gangs and parties for achieving, establishing and sustaining their power among the power-less people. It is also an established truth that some politicians are getting help from other countries to maintain their power. They are also creating disturbances in the country just to fulfil the agenda of anti-Pakistan forces. And there is no one who can challenge them. If any force tries to check and control them, most of the politicians form a united front to tackle and defeat the force. This is a very tragic truth and history of Pakistani politicians. The same history is being repeated after the speech of Zardari. The PPP and the MQM are now on the same page to defend their corruption and poor performance in the Sindh, especially Karachi, and halt the military operation against their corrupt leaders.

On last Tuesday, Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP leader and former president of Pakistan, spoke very angrily against the army for overstepping its domain. While talking to an oath-taking ceremony for PPP office-bearers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the PPP chief said: "Politicians are better suited to run the affairs of the country. Army chiefs come and go every three years but the political leadership was here to stay. We know the country better and we know how to run its affairs. … I know the art of war better than anyone else… anyone who tries to disturb us will get a befitting response. Be wary! If this doesn't stop now, I shall come out with a list of generals who have been accused starting from the time Pakistan came into existence. And then you will spend the rest of your lives providing explanations… if I give one call, the whole country from Karachi to Khyber will come to a standstill. The lockdown will continue tell I call it off… I can create havoc — Eent Say Eent Baja Doonga." Zardari also had words about NABs activities: "Stop victimizing us. Be warned, be warned".

Turning towards the government, Zardari said "Had we joined Captain [Imran Khan] during his street protest and resigned from the Parliament, elections would have been inevitable."

Zardari said he had supported the government because he did not want them to "later complain they had not been given their due time at the helm." "Others might be in a hurry, I am not. I can wait for the sake of democracy," said Zardari.

Referring to former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, Zardari said: "I know the dangers that face Pakistan, Musharraf does not. Had he known, he would not say the things he did."

"I spent five years in jail during the time Musharraf was ruling, but the 'commando' is afraid to spend even three months in prison," said Zardari. The PPP co-chairman said if his party took to the streets, not just Sindh, the entire country's roads will be blocked. "The whole country from Karachi to Khyber will come to a standstill and will remain so till I order otherwise."

After this speech, the PM Nawaz Sharif expressed his regret over the speech and cancelled the scheduled meeting with Zardari. While addressing a high-level consultation meeting in Islamabad after Zardari's speech, Nawaz Sharif said that "Zardari's tirade against the Pakistan army was inappropriate and unacceptable particularly at a time when the military was engaged in a crucial war against terrorism".

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan labelled Zardari's remarks as "inappropriate and insulting". He said: "It is obvious that Mr Zardari is targeting a sensitive national institution to veil his own wrongdoings. Zardari Sahab can say whatever he wants but every Pakistani respects and loves the Pakistan Army." Nisar also said "no national institution was responsible for PPP's diminishing popularity, adding that the party's own dismal governance had led to its downfall". Most of the political parties like the PTI also sharply criticised the Zardari' s speech.

By criticising the speech, the PML-N government has categorically expressed his support to the army and its operation in Karachi. It is also reported that Nawaz Sharif even discussed the matter with the army Chief General Raheel. This severe criticism also shows that the PML-N has taken a step to distance itself from the PPP's hitherto friendship.

Zardari’s Speech Is In Reaction Of The Following Developments:

1: Zardari, who is notorious for his corruption, shrewd political sense and cunning, gave this statement after the Rangers operation was directed against him and his friends in the PPP Sindh government and administration. He delivered this speech after a great pondering and the aim of this calculated move is to stop the military operation against corruption, violence, extortion, lawlessness, extremists, the Taliban, and the vested interests of those involved in these criminal and anti-state activities in Karachi.

2: It is also reported that the military and intelligence agencies have made progress in the Benazir murder case. They have arrested Uzair Baloch, who has allegedly confessed to the murder of two very important witnesses, including one Khalid Shehenshah, in the Benazir murder case. These revelations have disturbed Zardari very much. There are many people and journalists who are of the view that Zardari is involved in Benazir’s murder. This development in the case is very alarming for Zardari who has become the real leader of the PPP after the murder of his wife.

3: For the first time, the military and intelligent agencies are helping the law enforcement agencies to target Zardari's financial interests. Zardari knows that this operation is putting his financial interests in jeopardy. So, he is speaking against the operation.

4: Zardari is hopeful that the MQM will give him support as the operation is unmasking the corruption of both the parties in Karachi. He knows that both the MQM and PPP are a real power in Sindh and the military will not take any further step against them due to preserving the stability of the country and province. After the speech, the MQM is standing with him and it is now ready to become a part of Sindh government in the coming days.

5: Zardari was of the view that even the PML-N and all other religious and political parties who are against the Zarb-e- Azb, Balochistan and Karachi operations would give him support. Here , Zardari faced failure because the PML-N has not given him support.

6: Some analysts are of the views that Asif Ali Zardari wants to revive the PPP and its anti- establishment image. The workers of the PPP are not happy with Zardari's pro-establishment policy. So, to make them happy and win their support back, Zardari has spoken against the establishment. According to the report, "PPP sources confirmed that the Punjab chapter "forcefully persuaded" the party leadership in these meetings in Karachi, to activate the PPP in Punjab as Imran Khan's PTI is fast filling the political space in the province. It is evident to all that PPP won only two National Assembly seats from Punjab. And despite renewed efforts, all it got in the recent by-elections, cantonment board and local government elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the third place, not even second."PPP figured nowhere in the competitions," they said.

 While all agreed to strive to increase PPP's presence in all forums, it fell to Asif Ali Zardari as top party leader to be the standard bearer."After Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's refusal to meet Mr. Zardari, I think we have achieved the objective of parting ways with the PML-N," said the PPP source. "Onwards, the PPP will only play an opposition party," thundered a close aide of Mr. Zardari. "He has cast the first stone and in the coming weeks and months you will see a changed PPP...Sindh Rangers' zeal in their crusade against corruption and terrorist groups in Karachi may prove a tipping point but the fallout would be largely political. "We in the PPP know the only way to survive in the national politics is that Mr. Zardari play not second fiddle, but the role of a real opposition," a PPP insider told Dawn.

After seeing the reactions and response of the other political parties and the people of Pakistan, the PPP has now started to control the damage. Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira have tried to tell the media that Zaradi's speech was against the former generals, not against the present chief of the army and generals. Even Zardari hosted an Iftar dinner for gathering the leaders of other political parties. This gambit also got success partially. The ANP, MQM, PML-Q and JUI-F attended while the PTI, JI and the PML-N ignored it. All the parties stressed for conciliatory policy in this matter. Even Chaudhry Shujaat of the PML-Q said the statement should be withdrawn.

Now the PPP and Zardari are in real trouble and they will have to formulate a counter-strategy to improve its image. The Daily Times writes: "Meanwhile the PPP is said to be mulling over a counter-strategy to the campaign against it by the Rangers and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). A legal recourse is being considered, which includes approaching the courts as well as passing a law by the Sindh government that the Rangers and NAB be bound to ask the chief minister Sindh for prior approval before arresting any bureaucrat or high profile figure.

 Even if the Sindh government manages to pass such a law on the basis of its majority in the Sindh Assembly, such an unprecedented restriction on the functioning of the law enforcement agencies is likely to be legally challenged and even struck down by the courts. Even to contemplate such a course shows the panic and desperation permeating the PPP leadership in the face of being targeted for alleged corruption and worse. A close friend of Zardari, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz too is said to be having fits these days and unable to have access to the powers that be to fend off any adverse action against him. All does not appear well within the ranks of the top leadership either.

At the very moment when the PPP Central Executive Committee was endorsing Zardari's statement, two former prime ministers, Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf reportedly tendered their resignations from top slots within the party. This annoyed Zardari and is being treated as rebellion. Zardari's leadership of the party is increasingly coming into question, implicitly if not openly. Meanwhile the Sindh government has suddenly woken up to an army application for forest land to be allotted to the families of military martyrs near Shikarpur, a request lying pending since 2001.

 Whether such a "sop" will extricate the PPP's chestnuts from the fire remains to be seen, but given the present mood and determined pressing of the campaign against corruption and other misdemeanours in Sindh, it may not be enough. The best advice Zardari and the PPP have received lately is the view of the Iftar guests to return to the policy of reconciliation. Whether this is still possible remains an intriguing and open question".

Difficult and interesting times are ahead for the PPP and the MQM. Let us hope the Rangers follow through to a logical conclusion.