Friday, September 05, 2008

Feel The Love, AZ

Arif, at Pakistan Policy:
The election of Zardari, albeit constitutional and a political fait accompli, is like locking a nation of 165 million in a ship with a madman at helm and chucking the keys into the Arabian Sea.

An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal titled "Pakistan's Next President Is A Category 5 Disaster" (courtesy Adeel):
And then there is Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and leader of the Pakistan People's Party. Mr. Zardari, who has compared himself to Jesus (an innocent accused of crimes he did not commit), is easily one of the most notorious figures in the long parade of horribles that make up the country's political history. He is, of course, expected to win Saturday's ballot handily. Just how bad is Mr. Zardari? It would be a relief if it were true that he was merely suffering from dementia, a diagnosis offered by two New York psychiatrists last year.

From the NYT:
Two recent decisions by Mr. Zardari showed a disregard for Pakistan’s alarming deficits, they said, speaking anonymously because they did not want to publicly criticize the next president.

In April, Mr. Zardari told Ishaq Dar, the finance minister at the time and a member of Mr. Sharif’s party, which has since broken with Mr. Zardari, that he wanted the price the government paid farmers for wheat to be raised substantially as a way of rewarding an important constituency in Punjab Province, the nation’s most populous, according to two participants in the discussion with Mr. Zardari. The government would then have to heavily subsidize the cost of wheat to the consumer.

When Mr. Dar asked Mr. Zardari how he thought the government would pay for the subsidy, Mr. Zardari replied, “Print the notes,” according to the two participants, a government official and an associate of Mr. Zardari’s. In an effort to solve the impasse over the subsidy, it was suggested that Mr. Zardari form a committee of experts.

“ ‘I am the expert,’ ” Mr. Zardari said, according to his associate.

Farahnaz Ispahani, a spokeswoman for Mr. Zardari’s party, denied the account.

The two officials described another episode in May as the budget was being prepared. Mr. Zardari decided to scrap a proposed capital gains tax after a visit from a group of influential stockbrokers from the Karachi stock exchange, they said. The revenue from the capital gains tax, and from an income tax proposal on the rich, would have paid for an income support program for the poorest Pakistanis, they said. More than half of Pakistanis live on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

[...]

Mr. Zardari’s position as head of state will be a giant leap from the days when he accompanied Ms. Bhutto on her official trips. In his autobiography, a former leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, wrote that he found Mr. Zardari “a likable rogue” who tried to impress with chatter about his real estate and export deals.

I'd suggest we all fasten our seat belts for the foreseeable future. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

6 comments:

Majaz said...

I love the first quote. Read the recent articles by Anwar Syed and Ardeshir Cowasjee. Brilliant and sad at the same time.

AKS said...

The statements "I'm the expert" and "print the notes," along with characterization that he was "“a likable rogue” who tried to impress with chatter about his real estate and export deals," paint the picture of an insecure megalomaniac, kind of like Kim Jong il. I'm seriously getting scared.

I've been trying to convince myself that Zardari might actually turn out good; my rationale was he's amde all the money he could and would now want to create a legacy for himself. Scant chance of that happening if he's coockoo.

God (non-denominational) help us.

Ahsan said...

I also love that AZ has no idea what "print the notes" means in an economy already under massive inflationary pressures.

Or maybe he does - he did, after all, graduate from the London School of Economics and Business - but simply doesn't care.

Tanveer Iqbal said...

Congratulation Mr. Asif Ali Zardari! We encourage you to spread your wife's mission and pray for your achievement.

Anonymous said...

may god have mercy on Pakistan

Ahsan said...

Ahsan:

By the way, can I suggest a new trend? Every time any of us writes a post (or any reader writes a comment), we end it with the words "I am the expert". Imagine a post ending like:

"...blah blah blah, and that is why Shoaib Akhtar should be made the new chairman of the PCB.

I am the expert."

Or:

"...this that and the other, there's simply no way Pepsi is better than Coke.

I am the expert."

What do you think?