The Zardari Pinata

D. Asghar’s latest post for PTH:

Lately in many discussions, about various events which have unfolded in Pakistan, it appears that Pakistanis in or outside Pakistan, find only one person responsible, its President Asif Ali Zardari. To clarify, I reside in the US, have no affiliation with him or PPP. As a teenager, when I was in Pakistan, I admired ZAB, but according to my analysis, the ideals of PPP died along with ZAB on the ill fated day of, April 04, 1979.  Even late BB, failed to impress me as she made some huge blunders, and used ZAB’s name to advance her political career. There is no denying of this fact, that till this day PPP, uses ZAB and now BB as well to tap into the vote banks. It is the sheer charisma of ZAB, which still resonates with the masses.

Getting back to our infamous President, the blogospheres are on fire chastising him for almost any and everything. Whether it is the bomb blasts, floods, mob lynching or cricket betting scandal, he seems to be the target of everyone’s scorn. Undoubtedly, AAZ has a questionable past and his actions subsequent to taking the oath are definitely worthy of criticism, but definitely not worthy of any military intervention.

We get to hear pleas emanating from London, to change the feudal culture and political landscape of Pakistan. This to me and many others, is quite troubling. Amazingly, the proponents of this sweeping change have always formed the convenient alliances with the feudals in the past. The print and electronic media is creating its own hysteria and it appears that talk show hosts on many popular channels have pretty much made it their source of livelihood to demean and berate AAZ.

The conditions and events in Pakistan become, a topic of heated discussions in the living rooms here in the US. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of educated, liberal and law abiding Pakistanis tilt towards a “quick     fix” and want either the military to intervene or they want a “sweeping revolution.” Very few want the process of democracy to evolve and mature. The convenient reasons given to justify their rather illogical stance is, “Pakistan is not ready for democracy”, “Democracy has always failed”, “Politicians are corrupt”, “You think military was bad, see what worst is, GOD has brought HIS wrath in the form of AAZ.”

AAZ has made his share of follies, after replacing Musharraf. Arguably, he may be one of the most corrupt Executive of the country, but to replace him, Pakistanis need to exercise the legal and democratic means available to them. Having witnessed Clinton’s impeachment process, I can state that, it was an impressive demonstration of how mature institutions function. Similarly, as painful as 8 years of Bush Presidency were, the US citizens demonstrated their disdain on election day, and brought a rather inexperienced Obama to power.

The repeated argument presented by the military loyalists is the extent of corruption. In my opinion, the rampant corruption stems from two basic elements, an empty stomach with very limited source of income or too much on hand and the limitless greed. The history of corruption in Pakistan, predates many Zardaris. The set up of government institutions back in the 50’s with inherited British style of bureaucracy provided the foundations. In all these years, regardless of military or civilian governments, the government still functions on the same paradigm. To expect any miracles from the cancerous system, just because the in charge is a General, is quite a utopian hope in futility.

As it is quite obvious that, the elements behind the upheaval are the ones, who do not want the process of democracy to strengthen. Pakistanis want a messiah to come in and rid them from the myriad of the problems they face. Whether it is soaring inflation, unemployment, law and order, terrorism, corruption and poor governance. The argument presented by the critics of a civilian government is that politicians are there to fill their coffers and tend to play “musical chairs” with one another, but do not want to solve the problems of the masses.
The military has been a tested institution and brings “law and order” under control. This is quite lame of an argument, as Musharraf regime had a serious law and order issue. Then feudalism is considered a major impediment in the formation of the “will of people” by the military loyalists. The military and feudals have a lot in common. Both are authoritarian and many military people hail from feudal backgrounds. Many politicians welcoming the military are feudals. So rather than introducing a bill on the floor to end feudalism, we want the military to take reins and run a “national government” comprising of “like minded” politicians, some if not many representing the feudal background.

No matter which way you cut or slice, no matter how many justifications of democracy and democratic process are presented, the people are unwilling to buy. It is  “Zardari bashing” which has become the favorite past time for Pakistanis in and out side of Pakistan. Beating the Zardari Pinata provides a psychological relief to many. What we fail to realize is, all means are available to us within the framework of a democratic process. Whether it is a no confidence motion for the PM, mid term elections or a potential impeachment of a President. It is high time that we start developing and fostering the democratic norms and stop relying on the short cuts, which have brought us to such a disastrous state.


Filed under Democracy, Pakistan, Politics

16 responses to “The Zardari Pinata

  1. Raza Raja

    Brilliant…could not agree more

  2. D Asghar

    Raza Bhai, many thanks. I am dreading the day, when we are going to disagree with one another.🙂

    Are you sure, you and I were not separated in the early 70’s in a Clifton Mela in Karachi.🙂

  3. Raza Raja

    Sir I was not even born in early 1970s!!!!

    But yes we do agree a lot…

    I am actually also sending this article to a large number of my friends and will share it on facebook also

  4. Feroz Khan

    As to the pundits advocating wreaking the democratic process for quick results, what needs to be said is that we, in Pakistan, are in such dire straits, that there is no other option but to let the process progress.

    Asghar sahib, the unsaid reality is that any process in Pakistan is not tolerated and no institutions are allowed to grow, because the very nature of a such a reality implies a set of rules and principles, which can govern our actions. This is unacceptable .

    The only thing worse than injustice is justice and though one may accept injustice, one cannot easily accept the sting of justice. Justice is, afterall, an accountibility for personal responsibility and we, as a nation, abdicated our sense of personal responsibilty a long time ago.

    Therefore, to prevent our guilt from be punished, we do not favor any process which can hold us responsible for our actions. Once we accept our mea culpa, then that is day we will turn the corner for a better prospect.


  5. D Asghar

    Raza Bhai, Thanks for the clarification. Now I am the “Barey Bhai Jaan” for you.🙂 Many thanks for sharing the article with your friends and FB. I will try to pay a visit there when I get back home tonight.

    Feroz Bhai, I agree with you, at least you can relate to the Pakistan of 70’s. Your observations are very spot on, all the time. Please share the secret with me, too much education or high potency Gingko Tabs.🙂 Whatever it is, I admire it a lot. Many thanks.

  6. tilsim1

    @ Feroz Khan

    You are absolutely correct, our collective attitude to the rule of law is the crux of the problem. Lack of education is cited as the most important problem facing Pakistanis but I fear that this is a greater beast. From breaking red traffic light signals to abrogating the constitution, it’s all part of the course in Pakistan.

    Pakistanis have learnt to compartmentalise their brains. They will fast, pray, give charity (to ensure they can buy their personal ticket to heaven). However, they will totally ignore and walk over anybody’s else right (including the State) whenever they get a chance. This trait is unfortunately part of our general culture now and the diaspora takes this attitude with it abroad.

  7. Faisal Naseem Chaudhry

    @Raza Raja

    Please send this article to the Chief Justice as well.

  8. Mustafa Shaban

    I dont agree with the concept of Zardari bashing. Thing is that I beleive that Zardari has done his job very poorly to say the least. But I agree that he is obviously not the cause of it. Its people who need to change. If people do not take responsibility for thier actions and their environment then nothing is going to change. I dont blame any person, and I dont beleive a military dictator can solve our problems, only change within the public can bring good governance. Allah says in the Quran that He does not help a people unless the people help themselves.

  9. @Dastagir
    Its not the people abroad only who want a quick fix or media who has bashing Zardari as their favourite hobby, its not as said as its something like psychological relief, as you are dealing in your article with this particular habit but fell prey to same phenomena.
    Actually the problem is the the different directions or ago and objecives of the state and the Govt. The Govt relying on very fragile institutional setup and people verdict, and the state has all the means to propagate the narrative it wants.
    People who wanna write objectively lack the ability or will to understand all this.
    As for instance, a journalist was abducted, kidnapped and tortured by the agencies, for whatever reasons you will not be interested but the very reporting of the whole issue has nothing except Govt. Bashing, The very informed Journalist posing as the investigative unit of the sad newspaper was reporting it as it is done by the Govt, and in spite of adopting legal procedure PFUJ has appealed to the COAS to take notice. It was not for psychological relief etc. etc. it clearly mentions how such incident are made to get into the aimed conclusions.
    Do your drawing rooms chats have discussed how in the daylight journalists were brought to such treatments who has dared to question the mighty institutions for their internal justice system and the his excellency Chief justice have on balls to consider the whole issue…

  10. Err. The problem is different directions or aim and objectives….

  11. @D Asghar [September 7, 2010 at 2:15 am]

    Raza Bhai, many thanks. I am dreading the day, when we are going to disagree with one another.

    Are you sure, you and I were not separated in the early 70′s in a Clifton Mela in Karachi.

    This is getting nerve-wracking, like watching “The Perils of Pauline” in weekly portions. Can we just get a DNA test done and finish this thing once and for all?😉

  12. @Feroz Khan

    The only thing worse than injustice is justice and though one may accept injustice, one cannot easily accept the sting of justice. Justice is, afterall, an accountibility for personal responsibility and we, as a nation, abdicated our sense of personal responsibilty a long time ago.

    Therefore, to prevent our guilt from be punished, we do not favor any process which can hold us responsible for our actions. Once we accept our mea culpa, then that is day we will turn the corner for a better prospect.

    At the risk of sounding as cynical as the author of these lines, I think they should be inscribed in letters of gold and hung in every courtroom in the sub-continent.

  13. Midfield Dynamo

    ZAB was the root cause of the problem we confront today…..we have to erase the PPP manifesto and all that goes with it.

  14. observer

    First of all great blog….. I would have to agree with some of the posters, people should bear the consequences of voting in Mr. Zardari. If he’s not performing or going against the constitution work within the paradigm of the constitution and impeach, that’s what law and order is.
    The crux of the problem is lack of education and the all-encompassing Pakistani trait of short cuts. The day Pakistanis realize to be successful they need each other and need to learn to walk hand in hand tolerant of each other that’s when they’ll start to move forward.
    The other fundamental issue I see is that Pakistanis rather enjoy misery, they continuously complain about issues within the country and tend to enjoy the giving everything away to the few that do stand up for elections. Then again I might be oversimplifying the argument.

  15. DAsghar

    Tilsim Bhai, Faisal Bhai, Ali Arqam Bhai, Vajra Bhai, Midfield Bhai and Observer Bhai…

    Thanks for stopping by and furthering the discussion. I think Observer Bhai has summed it up rather simplistically and I agree with him. No matter what it is, the law provides a relief one way or the other. Agreed that it takes a bit longer and requires immense patience and perseverance, but it is the sign of mature citizenry. Time permitting, one of these days I will present a real life case study to prove my point. The solutions are there, all we have to do is band together and tap into those real solutions. Many thanks again.

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