Good luck, President-elect Zardari, you need it
By Kamran Shafi
</B>SO then, did not even one of his friends advise Asif Zardari not to put himself ‘in the line of fire’ (pun very much intended) unnecessarily? I mean, he could have fought terrorism from behind the scenes, couldn’t he?
Anyway, he is now the duly elected president, after an election that every political party has accepted as fair and proper.
What better news could there be for a people who, just days ago, were under the yoke of an army dictator who did his all and more to destabilise the country even as he was in the process of being prised out of office?
The past is past, however, and except for one hiccup all the signs augur well for the future. Most particularly President-elect Asif Ali Zardari announcing that parliament will be supreme, and the leader of the next biggest party Nawaz Sharif, saying that the presidential election is a victory for democracy.
The one hiccup: whilst reports from three of the voting legislatures spoke of bonhomie, the leader of the PPP in the Punjab Assembly and sitting senior minister of the Punjab cabinet Raja Riaz, accused his own government’s leaders of wrongdoing.
Why blame Riaz, however, when the Governor’s House was festooned with banners proclaiming Asif Zardari the next president of Pakistan with, quite inappropriately, ‘Laat Sahib Bahadur’s’ pictures adorning every banner? Which reminds me, Salman Taseer is a good-looking man: could he please stop glowering balefully from behind his too-young shades as if he were trying to put the fear of God into everyone and Charlie’s aunt?
(By the way, Islamabad the Beautiful gup has it that Malik Riaz of Bahria Town is the next governor of the Punjab. As a friend asked, how is he less qualified than Salman Taseer?)
Back to our new president, however. One has to reiterate what was said in an editorial in this newspaper on Aug 7. There is a very deep trust deficit when it comes to Zardari keeping his word and whilst we must give him time, for the country is in one hell of a mess, the country has had quite enough of deceit and sleight of hand. He must restore all the judges to their pre-Nov 3 positions; make parliament supreme by encouraging it to repeal those sections of the Seventeenth Amendment that give extraordinary powers to the presidency, get rid of 58-2 (b), and hand over the day-to-day running of the party to someone else.
If a national government can be put together nothing like it. But in no case should either party attempt to destabilise the other’s government.
And now, a little something about the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital where my mother-in-law is again under treatment after an interregnum of four years. From the car park attendants to the gatemen to the janitors to the ward boys to the nurses to the residents (junior doctors) to the consultants, all you see is professionalism and courtesy and diligence of the highest order. No amount of praise is enough for this jewel — and it is a jewel only because of Imran’s own diligence and hard work.
I have said this before many years ago, and I will say it again. Politics aside, the government should request Imran to please, please become Czar of Sports in Pakistan. No ministers, no departments, no associations, no nothing. Let him revamp the whole shoot from the ground up.
While he should be able to run his political party also, and stand in elections, there should be no interference of any kind in his work, for he is the only one with the leadership qualities and the experience to get sports out of the shameful nosedive it is in. More strength to you, Imran.
Stop Press: Just this last Sunday, friend Amina Piracha, former MNA of the PPP, took a foreign journalist to show her the site of the Rawalpindi Jail where Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was judicially murdered. The prison cell in which he spent his last days and which was a shrine of sorts where people placed flowers and paid their respects had been demolished.
As the journalist was taking photographs of this ‘park’ the two women were accosted by four men in shalwar kameez who asked them to go away and not come back until they had got permission from Major Someone-Or-Other at 10 Corps HQ. When Amina, the fighter that she is, remonstrated with them asking what the army had to do with a park that belonged to the Rawalpindi Development Authority, one of them identified himself as an ISI man and said he was just doing his duty.
Golly, what an arduous counter-intelligence task, keeping people away from the site of ZAB’s death cell! No wonder the ISI has no time to look for terrorists. Good luck, Mr President, you need it!
P.S. A little bird tells me that GHQ is all atwitter, and some of our Rommels and Guderians upset at the prospect of President Zardari henceforth appointing other Rommels and Guderians. Well, sirs, why bloody not?