Daily Archives: August 27, 2008

The risk of demonising Zardari

By Mosharraf Zaidi

It is not difficult to understand why there is a thick tension in the air as Pakistan prepares for a Zardari presidency. For two decades now Asif Ali Zardari has been the object of establishment, middle class and educated elite contempt. Just because the educated liberals and urban conservatives in Pakistan don’t like Mr Zardari, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be president. Pakistanis have a habit of personifying national failure in the shape of individuals. It is time to ditch old habits, and embrace democracy.

Within the tradition of personifying national failure, General Ziaul Haq is perhaps the favourite of the English-language babus. It is amazing how Zia single handedly created religious fanaticism, turned the country into Ronald Reagan’s hand-maiden and gave rise to all the evil that lurks in Tora Bora and straddles the Durand Line. If Zia is at the top of the list, Zulfi Bhutto is a not too distant second. The most recent addition to the arsenal of both liberals and conservatives is of course the recently retired and resigned Pervez Musharraf. In many ways he trumps both Bhutto and Zia in villainous magnitude – combining the supposed institutional appetite for fanaticism, with his personal appetite for the finer things in life. Now, the knives are sharpening and September 6 is almost upon us. If and when Mr Zardari finally does take office, many Pakistanis will cringe, and weep and turn off the television in disgust.

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Filed under Democracy, dynasties, Elections, Pakistan, Politics

Benazir Bhutto: A warm, understanding and caring person

Posted by Samad Khurram

We have heard a lot about the political personality of Benazir Bhutto but it is generally hard to find a good article on her personal life by a close friend.  Here is one.

Karan Thapar, Hindustan Times

Benazir was 19 when I first met her. I was the same age. At the time she was vice president of the Oxford Union and I was her counterpart at Cambridge. She had come to our union to propose the motion — ‘This house would have sex before marriage’. It was a tongue-in-cheek joke debate but just the sort of thing to spark the union chamber. We were stuffed to the rafters and overflowing.

Halfway though her speech, I leaned across and grabbed the president’s bell. I rang it sharply. Benazir stopped and a hush descended on the union’s chamber. Rising to my feet, I said: “Madam, I see you are proposing sex before marriage. Would you care to practise what you preach?” The chamber erupted in laughter. Mine was the sort of interruption deliberately designed to produce softer humour.

Very cleverly. Benazir waited for the applause to die down. When it did, she swirled her feet, stared me in the face, removed her glasses, wrinkled her nose and with great aplomb replied, “Certainly, my dear, but not with you!” The laughter was even louder. Her reply had carried the day. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan