Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Asif Zardari's Piece In The Guardian

What, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or New York Times weren't available? Well, I encourage the move east. Hopefully at some point soon Zardari (Haqqani) will write op-eds in Pakistani newspapers (after brief stopovers in German, Polish, Belorussian, Turkish, and Afghan papers). Anyway, here's some snippets of the op-ed, with the little voice in my head as background noise.
When I was elected president more than a year ago, Pakistan was in a grave condition, strained by terrorism and a ravaged economy.

Not to mention the setback of an incompetent buffoon being elected as President. Go on.
I am working with parliament to run a country, not a political campaign.

Could've fooled us!
Terrorists do not want Pakistan to succeed. They want to distract us from preparing for a stable and prosperous future. But militants underestimate us. Just as our people refuse to be terrorised, our government refuses to be derailed from its course of fiscal responsibility, social accountability and financial transparency.

You weren't derailed because no one in your government cares about the war -- throughout the most gruesome violence, the front pages were filled with news about the shenanigans over the NRO and long marches and ECLs and god knows what else. You handed control to (or were usurped by, to be charitable) the military, and let them handle things. It's easy to not be derailed when you don't give a shit.
Pakistan even met IMF criteria last month to receive the "fourth tranche", or £0.79bn, of its loan funding – no easy feat during a global recession. Corrupt governments don't reach this level of IMF partnership.

Um, I don't even have a joke for this one. And frankly, it doesn't need any humorous embellishment from me; it's pretty funny on its own.
If the community of developed democratic nations had, after our last democratic election, crafted an innovative development plan with the scope and vision of the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after second world war, much greater economic, political and military stability would already have been achieved.

Just once I would like to see Zardari (Haqqani) in the press or in public in Western capitals NOT bring out the begging bowl. Just once.
Now some western reports suggest the Pakistani military does not support the policies of our democratic government. This is not true. Not only is our military courageously battling extremists in Swat and Waziristan, and succeeding, but our troops also are supporting the country's democratic transition and adherence to our constitution.

And I can promise you that I'm not writing this because Kayani is holding a gun to my head right now. Cross my heart and hope to die.
History has shown the difference between expedient policies and the long-term goals of true statesmen. When the history of our time is written, Pakistan's decisions will be seen as a turning point in containing international terrorism. We are building a functioning society and economy. In the end, these sometimes unpopular steps will create a Pakistan that sucks the oxygen from the fire of terrorism. Those who are counting on Pakistan to back off the fight – militarily and economically – underestimate my country and me.

I'm sorry, you may be a lot of things, but you are not a statesman. I mean, even your most ardent supporters wouldn't believe that characterization. I agree that Pakistan is not as bad as it was, say, six months ago. But please keep these self-congratulatory messages in check. It has the exact opposite effect of what you intend.

29 comments:

Smci said...

Ok so everyone here has heard this clown speak to the press in english. Is there ANY doubt that he doesn't write these things himself?

And I suppose someone could say that it's irrelevant, but if so, why not just put Haqqani's name on the by-line instead of Zardari's?

Anywho, I hope some day someone writes a book or series on what exactly happened after the failed plea for a Chinese bailout.

Early articles about the negotiation with the IMF were speculating that loan conditions would demand anywhere up to a 30% cut on military expenditures from the national budget. But the IMF went out of its way at several points to say that no conditions on military spending would be part of the goal-driven loan tranches.

What happened? I guess the U.S stepped in.

Xeb said...

"I agree that Pakistan is not as bad as it was, say, six months ago."

True. It's worse.

:S

Kalsoom said...

I actually think these op-eds undermine the little credibility he has left, if that. What a load of horse shit.

Rabia said...

I guess I don't understand what was so embarrassing or horrible about this op-ed. 1. We all know that civilian governments work under certain constraints in Pakistan. 2. I don't see how you can blame the attention given to the NRO and judges restoration on Zardari 3. The begging bowl is a reality - and I for one prefer and am less embarrassed by Zardari's way of asking than Kayani's.

Umair Javed said...

Ummm...we can completely hold Zardari responsible for the NRO and the Judiciary crisis....there is no other explanation whatsoever...If anything, Zardari's shenanigans have stolen all the spotlight away from some of the better things this government has done such as the NFC award, the Gilgit Baltistan reform package, the attempts at reconciliation with the Baloch Nationalists...etc..

Pro-democratic analysis needs to be nuanced enough to realize that democracy certainly doesnt start or end with Zardari. He might be revered a great deal in rural Sindh, but that is largely a function of his role as the chairman of the party and the legacy of his dead wife. If the PPP is even half serious about bringing back some of their national-level legitimacy, they'll need to bring out the 18th amendment package as soon as possible. Once power (regardless of whether its just a facade or not) is transferred from the presidency back to the parliament, we can start evaluating the democratic credentials of this government.

Decreasing corruption is simply a function of how much time each political party spends in power. The media is at the throats of the parliamentarians over their recent asset disclosure and im pretty sure the judiciary's keeping half an eye on this issue as well. All that we can hope for is that sooner or later someone will get publicly lynched for corrupt practice, which might set a precedent of sorts. Either way it remains directly related to the amount of time the parliament keeps functioning. The last thing that this country needs right now is someone to forcefully remove Zardari from office...we cant give him or his party another reason to start of that entire siege mentality, persecuted poor soul act....the dirtier they get, the better it is for procedural democracy

Rabia said...

Umair,
If Benazir had been Prime Minister the issue of the NRO (and the related issue of the judiciary) would have played out in exactly the same way.

You can blame Musharraf and Benazir for the NRO, in that it was a ticking time bomb. However, given the fact that every other actor in the situation (PML-N, JI, Army, Judiciary) had a vested interest in escalating the issue of the NRO and did exactly that, I am a little perplexed as to how you can lay the entire blame for the crisis at Zardari's door.

Perhaps if liberals like yourself had put in a bit of thought into the nature of the judiciary that we are saddled with today as a result of your one-sided view of the issue of the restoration of the judiciary and the NRO we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today.

Wyse Guy said...

True. It's worse.

No. Xeb, please Re:Umair Javed on what he wrote.

your one-sided view of the issue of the restoration of the judiciary and the NRO

Rabia, what are you talking about? That supporting the principle of Separation of Powers (either passively or actively), is a bad thing? No. All the fights, both political, physical and verbal have come out in favour of those who have been writing or speaking out since 2007.

Not to mention that the topic at hand is a silly ghost written op-ed by Das Prez Zardari.

we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today

The situation is better re: Balochistan (will admit it still needs improvement but isn't in free-fall), Gilgit Baltistan, India, not having the American military invade NWFP, Swat, South Waziristan, and trying to keep the place together via the National Finance Commission.

I will admit the economy part of the equation is lousy, but then again, when you're engaged in four, five low-to-medium-intensity conflicts, making money becomes the least of your priorities.

Ahsan said...

SMCI:

I don't know what happened there. But on the byline front, why is there a need to write ANY op-eds in the foreign press? What good does it do, whether under his name or Haqqani's? What purpose does it serve. Somebody really needs to explain this to me.

Xeb:

Haha I assume you're not being serious, but if you are being serious, my only point would be is that it is much less violent on a day to day basis than the dark days of October-November. That was bad.

Kalsoom:

Yeah, as I said, I don't understand it at all.

Rabia and Umair:

I'm not going to get into "who's fault" the NRO controversy was, I think you're both half right. But you're missing my point. My point was not that Zardari or his government was solely responsible for the NRO thing. My point was that they let it consume them to the point where they took their eye of the ball on the war. During the time of the extreme levels of violence, did you hear anyone high up, even once, say something to the effect of "This is tough, we know, but we will get through it together, as a nation"? Did anyone spell out a strategy for the public, and give them hope? No. There was no leadership. None whatsoever. That was my point. The war didn't matter to them.

Umair Javed said...

@Rabia: You're missing my point. Had Benazir been in power and tried to push the NRO through the parliament, i would have commented on Ahsans blog by saying Benazir's shenanigans are causing collateral damage. I have no problems with Zardari as president (in fact my opinion as part of the 4 percent liberal/radical English speaking minority doesn't even count) but i'm evaluating his track record in office...an office that he is entitled to hold but not entitled to use for whatever purpose he sees fit.

Theres a growing tendency within certain sections of the pro-democracy camp to equate Zardaris continuation in office with democratic rule in this country. The buck doesn't stop with his oath-taking....we're completely entitled to sling mud at him for the things he happens to excrete over the country that are generally accepted to be against the spirit of good-governance, constitutional democratic politics and other such petty bourgeoise notions that we all aspire to....

but Ahsan's right in so far as he's suggesting that our leadership on both benches (Zardari included) has let itself be consumed by drawing room/high politics far too much...and i think the media and our man-of-the-people CJ are equally to blame for these bouts of highly obsessive compulsive behavior. (Corruption and asset declaration is the latest one)....

Asfandyar said...

Rabia, what are you talking about? That supporting the principle of Separation of Powers (either passively or actively), is a bad thing? No. All the fights, both political, physical and verbal have come out in favour of those who have been writing or speaking out since 2007.

Not really separation of powers anymore though, what with the CJ taking it upon himself to rid Pakistan of all it's ills. If you ever wanted to see the making of a politician, CJ Iftikhar's a brilliant case study.

I'm with kalsoom and Ahsan here, I really don't get the need to keep writing foreign op-eds while the PPP does very little to try to explain its agenda or its situation in the local media. Just seems like they're hoping for foreign legitimacy so that when they're properly challenged, the US/UK see fit to negotiate a package that'll placate the army.

Ultimately what gets my goat is that all our political issues are, well, just that. They're political in the sense that they're being played out on a level that has fuck all to do with most Pakistanis.

Checkmark P said...

Not to mention the setback of an incompetent buffoon being elected as President.

That is a bit harsh of you. Afterall, the man has no talent! :)

I agree that Pakistan is not as bad as it was, say, six months ago

Now that's the spirit! A nation going ultimately backwards must evaluate performance on an upward scale of relative worseness.

Wyseguy said...

Not really separation of powers anymore though, what with the CJ taking it upon himself to rid Pakistan of all it's ills.

I just chortle every time I see Ch. Iftikhar going solo on some tangent like topic, as if it's still the glory days of General Musharraf.

If you ever wanted to see the making of a politician, CJ Iftikhar's a brilliant case study.

Would the PML-N let him rise through the ranks after his retirement or would he have to settle for the PTI (LOL)?

I really don't get the need to keep writing foreign op-eds

Neither do I. But it makes for a nice laugh.

Speaking of which, here's a ghost written Zardari piece from the NY Times back in December.

This one seemed to get Pakistan's point of view across nicely.

Plus the stony poker face on the cartoon eagle as he s(h)its(?) in a Pakistani nest is preciuos.

WyseGuy said...

A nation going ultimately backwards must evaluate performance on an upward scale of relative worseness

What is it with the fanatical fatalism of Pakistani commentators?

Plus I mis-spelled 'precious'.

Nabeel said...

what ardent supporters? umair, where exactly is zardari revered? the bhuttos are..not zardari. (are,because they're being kept alive to keep PPP support alive.) i haven't met a single person who PRAISES him (and one would realistically expect PPP supporters to do so,but nothing there either.)

I agree with Ahsan too-what's wrong with this piece is that Zardari is accountable to his people,not the readers of the Guardian-that he could (and obviously should) do a better job by actually communicating with his people.i'm not too good with pakistani history,but musharraf set a good example by coming on PTV and talking about what his goals were. even if they were BS and propaganda. no one expects any govt statement to be completely honest,anywhere in the world. but it's a marketing battle and Brand PML (N) is hammering its message across the country, with Brand PPP being held up only faintly by perhaps sub-brand Gilani and the shelter of 'democracy', which is another brand under attack.

Wyseguy said...

it's a marketing battle...Brand PPP

Maybe these guys should try and get their own TV shows and start putting their message out there.

God knows, considering the pathetic quality of TV anchors in present day Pk, it shouldn't be that hard to start pumping your message across.

The fact that Mr Zardari does not have people out their pushing for him and his party (even those who would be pure PR guys) is a sad assesment on his political skills.

Anonymous said...

do you pathetic people have nothing better to talk about?

and we wonder why pakistan is a failing state...

AKS said...

@ Ahsan,

Reading the article makes me doubt HH's intelligence, not to mention his commitment. Its copy-paste stuff this; trite, disingenuous and annoying.

@ Nabeel,

Agree with you on the Bhutto - Zardari difference.

Similarly it is worth considering exactly how popular the PPP really is among rural Sindhis considering that the over the years the army / establishment has weakened the PPP by enticing important Sindhi leaders, Mumtaz Bhutto, the Jatois, etc to break away; and secondly that the PPP itself has alienated many Sindhis by a) being inept and b) by trying hard to not appear as a Sindhi party. You can't really blame on the last bit, the PPP absolutely needs votes in Punjab and by appearing to favour Sindh, the PPP would lose vital votes, it therefore has needed to balance its image. The Nawaz League has no problems appearing as a party that overtly favours Punjab, by winning the province they will always vie for control of the national government.

We certainly do need to reconsider the number of provinces.

AKS said...

anon 948

hahahaha!

Rabia said...

Umair,
if you accept that the NRO was for better or for worse one of the fundamental premises of this particular democratic experiment, then I don't see how you can consider the governments efforts to preserve the NRO as "shenanigans"

One of the things I've been thinking about is why people who accepted the NRO as a necessary evil when the PPP returned to power made such a big deal about the NRO when the SC overturned it. Maybe you can explain your point of view a bit better.

Umair J said...

@ Rabia: umm...i dont accept the NRO as a fundamental premise for any sort of democratic experiment. You cannot justify institutionalized corruption under the larger rubric of democratic rule...the right thing for all of these people would have been to face charges once they got back into the process. If zardari was so sure of his innocence (given how nobody managed to prove anything against him in 11 years), he should have just sat back and let the courts do their thing all over again.

The fact of the matter remains that the PPP wanted to have their cake and eat it two (or something along those lines)...they wanted clear entry into the electoral process and on top of that they wanted judicial immunity as well. Regardless of whether the cases were politically motivated or not, the fact remains that they were all running shit scared because they knew there was some ounce of truth in the allegations...a truth that could have been revealed in the courts...

That said, if the major political actors (Army, PML (N) and the Judiciary) had accepted the NRO in 2008, the PPP only have themselves to blame for their increasingly antagonistic politics towards both the courts and Nawaz Sharif....Had Zardari managed to keep Nawaz Sharif happy by the timely execution of the Charter of Democracy and other ancillary things (like not imposing governors rule), who knows they might have not made the NRO into such a big deal (or maybe gone for selective implementation that would have excluded the 160 odd politicians from its purview)....but the fact of the matter remains that politics is largely a zero-sum game. Nawaz Sharif played his cards in a manner thats put in solid groundwork for his party to look as the better alternative whenever the next round of elections comes...can we objectively blame the PML (N) for attempting to gain political currency with the electorate? i dont think so...i just think the PPP could have kept its own image a lot better by picking and choosing their battles...thats where the Zardari shenanigans are to blame...

Rabia said...

Since you are not in favour of any deals justifying institutionalized corruption I hope you'll speak out in favour of making public the exact terms of Nawaz Sharif's exile to Saudi Arabia which involved the closing of certain corruption cases, e.g. Hudaibiya paper mills, Ittefaq foundries, etc by the Musharraf regime in exchange for NS going into exile. I don't favour this because I support the PML-N leadership's return to political office, but I guess you are somewhat one-sided in your assessment of PPP vs. PML.

I don't really think you're as naive as you appear to be This is Pakistan where people like General Shahid Aziz and Senator Saif ur Rehman are specifically entrusted with the task of going after politicians who threaten the current regime. Under such circumstances, the only solution is a reset of all corruption cases against high profile politicians. The shame is that this is done piecemeal, on the military and judiciary's terms and with a statute of limitations which causes it to boomerang in the politicians' faces because people like you are willing to selectively harp on the issue of corruption when you get tired of a particular regime.

I don't say this as a PPP supporter, because I support the full removal of all bars to office for the Sharifs as well.

Cheif Justice said...

@Umair
@Rabia
What are you two even debating? The goal posts of this discussion seem to be shifting with each comment.

Is it:

A) That "the NRO was/was not in fact for better or for worse one of the fundamental premises of this particular democratic experiment,

B) That the NRO should/should-not justifiably remain the focus of the PPP

C) That the PPP is where it is because Zardari is to blame

D) That the PPP is where it is because the it, the PMLN, Me and everyone else is to blame

E) That Umair is a biased PMLN supporter/ naive?

F)That Rabia argues for the heck of it?

And that, Ladies and Gents, is why I am the Chief Justice.

Umair J said...

@Rabia: Okay first things first....i'm certainly not a PML (N) supporter despite your attempts to paint me as one....i have no sympathies with Nawaz Sharif, who i believe is as 'corrupt' as any other person (yes person not politician) in this country. In fact i personally believe that corruption cannot be weeded out from our politics primarily because its intrinsic to the various modes of societal interaction in our country. I know its very convenient to simply reify people into neat categories but i couldn't care less had it been Nawaz Sharif in Zardari's position right now (in fact since i support the Workers Party Pakistan, im more inclined towards the PPP than any other mainstream party). I'd like nothing more than to see the same measures of accountability for the PML(N).

I am even willing to step down from my original position of apportioning the entire blame of the NRO fiasco on to the shoulders of Zardari and the CEC of the PPP. But more than anything, we should be entirely clear that a level-headed approach towards the NRO and the other related issues (judiciary, 18th amendment package), would have resulted in less mud-slinging by the media and the CJ. I've said this before in an earlier comment....had the PPP kept its rivals content by staying on track with whatever agreements it had with them, they're term in office would have gone a bit more smoothly....you dont need to be a genius to realize that they've dropped the axe on their own feet far too much.

Its all well and good to sanctify the PPP (which is what you're doing right now) because they're a wafaaq kee party (federal party) and are key to the survival of procedural democracy in this country. But to do so at the expense of our infantile representative institutions is stupidity of the highest order. The public imagination sees Zardari and equates him with corruption. And not just the drawing room elite but large parts of the popular classes in Punjab and other urban areas across the country. As a purely objective/academic exercise...how can you blame a politician from exploiting a particular public sentiment through institutionalized means (invoking the court and aided by the media). When BB died, thats exactly what the Peoples Party did by plastering her face on every nook and cranny across Sindh and South Punjab. Whether they got the sympathy for it or not thats a different issue...but Nawaz Sharif, despite all of my misgivings with him as a politician, has half a finger on this pulse (and i wont give him that much credit by suggesting he has his entire finger on it)...a pulse thats converting this particular democratic experiment into an us vs them sort of a game....

Har dafa PPP kay saath establishment nay ziyadti kee hay...har dafa zaleel huay hain yay log sarkaar kay haathon....magar iss dafa iss zalaalat mein unkaa apna bhee kaafi barha haath hay...the amount of political capital controlled by Zardari and his party in 2008 (everyone was on his side or at the very least on the side of democracy, apart from the Musharraf loving classes of this country) was huge...he's literally handed all of it to the opposition because he's simply a bad politician, the King of cronyism, and he's hurting the PPP far more than what could possibly be justified or rationalized by even the most ardent supporters.

Anonymous said...

Umair,

Rabia ke saath raabta karne mein aap kaafi mashgool hein..

Ahsan said...

Chief Justice:

Bhai saab, at least spell the "chief" properly in your title. Not much of a legal mind, are you, if you can't do that?

karachi khatmal said...

i think you guys are missing the point. zardari's situation will only improve once he gets rid of Ijaz Butt. its a well known fact that PCB chiefs determine the workings of the president. musharaff's best years coincided with shahryar khan at the helm, his downfall began when nasim ashraf stepped in. ijaz butt, like zardari, is generally viewed as the worst thing to ever happen to us. and both zardari and butt have some major victories (the battle of swat, the world cup) which have been overshadowed by the fact that they are cu*ts.

if zardari can get someone else at the helm of the PCB his fortunes will change dramatically. unless that happens, expect more of the same.

Chief Justice said... said...

@Ahsan

A little less contempt of Court please.

Ahsan said...

Chief Justice: I tell you what, we'll make a deal. Less contempt of court from me, as long as you don't use the words "suo moto" more than once a week. Fair?

Chief Justice said...

@Ahsan

Ingrate. It is my JOB to suo moto stuff. Who else is going to save Pakistan?

I will suo moto Five Rupees if you don't watch out.