Gone with the grin?
by Shyema, Dawn Blog, November 6th, 2009
Could it be that President Asif Ali Zardari is finally ready to part with his power? Reports this week state that the president is ready to hand over some of the authority given under Article 58-2b to the parliament – sounds familiar? Perhaps it reminds of you the time Zardari first stated this well over a year ago. Since then Prime Minister Gilani has often spoken about restoring the parliament’s powers and the president himself has gone before the parliament and vowed to give away his powers but maybe he just isn’t good with keeping promises.
In May 2008, President Zardari was harping on a very different note. He was deeply troubled by the power former president Musharraf held and was very vocal on the ‘core issue’ of 58-2b.
Zardari said he was ‘the servant of the people, not the master of the people. There’s no point in me working hard, giving my life, fighting terrorism, asking the parliament and the Pakistani people to make sacrifices if you’re going to be sent home in two years.’
No one has been sent home yet but where are the president’s sacrifices…. Or where is his governance for that matter?
After the retreat on the National Reconciliation Ordinance, Gilani said the government would seek earliest restoration of parliament’s powers and has already asked for recommendations for key constitutional amendments. So does this mean that it’s actually going to happen this time? Or will we see history being repeated, since our country does have a tendency to repeat the same mistakes over and over again? As once written centuries ago, ‘but men are men; the best sometimes forget’
The self-assured grin our president wore has now lost its gleam. Voices have already been raised over how Zardari desperately needs to do some damage control – reiterating a verbal commitment to the Charter of Democracy will no longer be enough to silence the public.
As pointed out in a recent Dawn Editorial, ‘Given the lay of the political land, the only thing that comes to mind that the president could do to improve his position immediately is the very thing he appears deeply reluctant to do: give up his superior powers vis-à-vis the prime minister and parliament.’
Will he? Will he not? And while we are speculating, will he do it with a smile or a creased forehead? As we debate over this, it is also important for me to point out that during the meeting between the president and Aitzaz Ahsan at the presidency on Thursday, the picture that sat framed between the two was not of late Benazir Bhutto, but instead of our very own leader of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam! Could it be the beginning of us finally turning into Jinnah’s Pakistan?! Far-fetched thought, hoping for the restoration of parliament’s powers is more realistic for now.