Friday, September 12, 2008

Is President Zardari Attempting to Rewrite History?

The short answer to that, I hope, is no.

I raise this topic because the Associated Press of Pakistan has recently published a profile of the President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. The said profile was officially released by the President House after Mr. Zardari was sworn in as President; incidentally, the same profile can also be found on the PPP website.

According to this profile, President Zardari obtained his primary education from Karachi Grammar School (KGS), an elite institution that has ‘educated’ many of Pakistan’s most illustrious personalities. Trouble is, according to the BBC, Mr. Zardari attended Cadet College Petaro and St. Patrick's High School. The St. Patrick's Wikipedia page refers to Mr. Zardari as an alumnus, along with Pervez Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz, L. K. Advani and Danish Kaneria (I wonder if any of them ran into each other at school?). According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Zardari flunked out of St. Patrick's College in 1974.

This is not the first time that questions have been raised about Mr. Zardari's academic history. In documents submitted to the Election Commission Mr. Zardari claimed that he was a graduate of the London School of Economics and Business (LSE - B), which is an institution that nobody's been able to find! (We've covered this in detail here; interestingly, the WSJ article states that the biography given to them has Zardari attending a Pedinton College, which too could not be located!)

The present profile however, makes no mention of LSE - B, stating only that "he pursued his further education in London where he studied Business." It appears that Mr. Zardari and his minders have smartened up, which makes the error about the school even more surprising.

So, why the inconsistency?

Perhaps, Mr. Zardari is fulfilling a life long fantasy. I say this because I've heard a number of people reminisce that in his youth Mr. Zardari always wanted to fit in with the ‘KGS crowd’; to meet this end, he would loiter around KGS befriending Grammarian boys with the hopes of eventually befriending Grammarian girls. These mutterings have all come from the mouths of snooty old men who consider themselves to be superior to Zardari, so I don't think there's any point delving too deeply into this line of reasoning. Plus, I don't think Mr. Zardari is that petty.

The more logical cause for the inconsistency therefore is that this was a screw up by Presidential aides who probably assumed that Mr. Zardari went to the same school as his wife. (It’s a good thing they didn’t write that he attended the Convent of Jesus and Mary!)

This raises questions about the veracity of statements being issued by the Presidency and as a result calls into question the quality of staff available to the President.

It’s a funny thing bureaucracy – no matter who’s in power, the faces behind the scenes, especially in the lower rungs of power, tend not too change all that much. President Musharraf relied heavily on the staff of the Army House, his spokesman was an Army General. President Zardari will not have that luxury, and it is unclear whether the staff that has served Tarrar, Leghari and Ghulam Ishaq Khan, or is descended from that ilk, will be able to diligently serve the most powerful civilian president in the nation’s history. Moreover, it's not even clear if there is enough staff to cater to the needs of President Zardari. One thing is clear, the Presidency has a lot more power and a greater deal of responsibility now and it would be wise for President Zardari to ensure that it's staff is competent. The release of an inaccurate profile may not have caused any harm but the release of an inaccurate statement on policy or security matters from the Office of the President will cause considerable harm.

P.S.

I've just gone over President Zardari's Wikipedia entry seems to have been updated recently and there is no mention of his academic history. I am certain that in the past this page mentioned that Mr. Zardari attended Cadet College Petaro and St. Patrick's. So, maybe the President is trying to re-write history!

14 comments:

bubs said...

AKS:
I attended KGS in the late-eighties and early-nineties and there was a biology teacher who said he taught Zardari for a couple of years, so it might be true that he went there. However, this guy was a senile old man so there is the possibility that he was lying or mistaken.

Asif "The Expert" Zardari said...

Who cares? Asif Ali Zardari-Bhutto is the EXPERTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!

Zardari-Bhutto received a PHD in Expert Studies from the Nawabshah Institute of Expert and Dacoit Studies

Ahsan said...

Bubs:

Could it be that your bio teacher taught at St. Pats before KGS?

Asif:

What was your dissertation on? Can you provide us with the abstract?

asif "the expert" zardari said...

i dunno, sherry rehman wrote it

AKS said...

I've just returned from an iftar, there were so many jokes about Sherry Rehman and Asif Zardari. Quite terrible.

@ Bubs

There's every chance that I'm wrong. I've based my post entirely on sources available to me online and the testimony of old ex-grammarians, and since I'd never heard of Zardari attending KGS nor could I find any mention of this before the APP published his profile, I'm assuming that he hasn't.

I may not have written this had the profile mentioned that he attended St. Patrick's as well. But it doesn't, which struck me as really strange. So I immediately assumed that St. Patrick's had been substituted by KGS. It's possible that he attended KGS for a year or two. But I am surprised that there isn't a mention of this anywhere.

By the way, was the senile old teacher a certain Mr. Khalilullah?

Laila said...

AKS:
I'm positive Zardari went to KGS. One of my freind's uncle is Zardari's best freind and according to him they were in KGS together along with some other shady types who went on to become the dubious politicians you see in the pakistani political scene. It is possible he was only there for 2years like you said? But he was definitely there.

bubs said...

AKS:
Yeah, it was Khalilullah. I'm surprised you know him. I got the impression you guys were about 10 years or so younger than me and there's no way in hell he lived that long.

naa said...

Hahahaha...Mr. "What does your father do?" Khalilullah. Too good.

In other news I hear Mrs. Hasan is back at KGS teaching history...surely she has to know if Zardari existed back then at KGS.

Ahsan said...

Naa:

Dude, at her age, Mrs. Hassan probably struggles to recall just who exactly Asif Zardari is, let alone where he went to school.

Daily Times Editor/Aggregator in Chief said...

No you guys have it wrong. Zardari went to the Karachi School of Grammar and Punctuation.

AKS said...

@ Laila and Bubs

Thanks for the heads up guys. I don't think it's fair for me to continue with the assumption that Zardari didn't go to KGS; I'll put in a clarification as soon as I get some time.

Majaz said...

"Plus, I don't think Mr. Zardari is that petty."

I'm sorry, but I actually read it as:

"Plus, I don't think Mr. Zardari is that pretty."

And I don't think you can blame me.

zeyd said...

Ahsan,

Dude, do you remember lullah (Khalilullah)? He was with us in Kenya! ''You bloody rogues!"

Ahsan said...

Zeyd:

For sure dude. Didn't Khurram Rafiq end up having to room with him in Nairobi?