Asif Zaradri’s Formula for Perpetual Power
June 22, 2010
by Michael Leon
It is the same Formula that General Musharraf Tried but Failed
By Usman Khalid
Asif Zardari (AZ) thinks of himself as a political genius. He may well be right. After all he has managed to obtain complete control over the reins of power even though he is supported by no more than 15% of the electorate. It is rare to get an insight into his thinking; he makes his best political speeches from the grave site of his beloved wife – Benazir Bhutto – in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.
Yesterday, 21 June, the country was celebrating the 57th birthday of his wife. Celebration may not be the right word to describe an event linked to a person who is dead – particularly one who was brutally assassinated in full public view. But it was indeed an occasion to celebrate by AZ.
If she had not been assassinated, AZ would have been kept out of sight of the public because of his reputation. After all his only link with politics was his renown as the commission agent who charged 10% for every permit and sanction given by his dear wife. However, it is also well known that the couple were leading separate lives.
If Benazir had been alive, she would have been a popular Prime Minister and he would have been confined to Dubai the same way as the mother of Benazir, Begum Nusrat Bhutto. With such dubious political background, AZ has come to own every thing that belonged to the Bhutto family. Even Benazir’s seat in the National Assembly is occupied by AZ’s his sister – Faryal Talpur. He has to be a political genius to accomplish such feats.
In his speech on the 57th Birthday of Benazir, he made some remarkable statements. He said: ‘he has put in place such a formula that his PP would win even if it loses the elections’. He explained that his formula was based on ‘firm links with the MQM and the ANP’; with his allies he was sure to have a foothold in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) as well as the Sindh Provinces .
In his scheme, the Punjab – 58% of the population of Pakistan – would continue to sidelined, by its caution owing to the fear of the Sindh Card that he has so deftly played. He expressed annoyance that the workers of the PPP did not appreciate his grand design and are still suspicious of the MQM.
He said that he is seeking accommodation with the MQM in accordance with the vision of his beloved wife – Benazir. He said he had not forgotten her assassins but reiterated that he would not resort to revenge. To confuse matters further (or perhaps to advance his peculiar politics) he fired off a letter to the UN Secretary General expressing his dissatisfaction with the UN Report on her assassination.
Whatever he said was self contradictory; it offended many and confused even more; he satisfied no one. That cannot be deft politics, but it is!
AZ formula for perpetual rule over Pakistan is the same as that of General Musharraf (GM). He is a Mohajir; the MQM was his political home; and he sought an alliance with the PPP – the party of rural Sindh. An alliance of urban Sindh (MQM) and rural Sindh (PPP) can easily sideline the Punjab and KP who are remote from the sea.
Karachi is the sea port through which almost all the trade of Pakistan and Afghanistan passes. With the MQM in control of Karachi , it can hold entire Pakistan to ransom. Besides, the dictator in chief of the MQM lives in London from where he collaborates with enemies of Pakistan and receives directions. AZ knows enough about the links of the MQM with India and Israel to be afraid.
He has his own links with them but he knows that the MQM links are closer. He is struggling to secure a similar constituency of loyalty for himself to rival that of the MQM. The minorities he is cultivating are the Shias and the Qadianis. That is remarkably similar to the politics of GM who shook hands with Ariel Sharon and had a Qadiani – Tariq Aziz – as his close confidante, courier and international gofer.
AZ is a shia in a country where the shia population is no more than 10% (Mohajir population is 7%); he had dinner with Israeli Ambassador in New York and has Rehman Malik as his close confidante, courier and international gofer. The question is: would AZ succeed whereas Musharraf failed?
It appears that AZ may fail much more spectacularly than GM. The public support for AZ is only 15% which is lower than the lowest for GM. His policy of appeasing the MQM while target killing of PPP workers and Pathans goes on relentlessly in Karachi is making the PPP rank and file very angry.
It is well known that the massacre of PPP workers upon the arrival of Benazir in Karachi was the work of the MQM. The workers of the PPP also believe that AZ has something to do with the assassination of Benazir. Why a proper criminal investigation has not been ordered so far, they ask! Bhutto legacy would continue to attract votes but Zardari as the leader of the PP is becoming unacceptable in Sindh.
While the effort by GM to make an alliance of a minority that is dominant in Karachi (MQM) with a party with country wide support (PPP) made sense, the effort of AZ to make the same alliance is viewed with revulsion and contempt.
It is seen as submission to blackmail by a minority of the majority. Perhaps AZ is aware of that. After all, he did seek an alliance with PML(N) and formed a coalition with it at the outset. They fell out on the issue of restoration of Judges dismissed by GM.
There was a likelihood of the alliance being restored after their restoration but the PML(N) was wise to stay away. It realised that the embrace of the PPP is like that of a python – the Boa constrictor.
PML(N) government in the Punjab is not providing good governance; it is even trying to ape the PPP with its ‘prone to waste and corruption’ scheme of ‘Two Rupee Roti’. But the PML(N) has avoided strategic errors. It led the movement for the independence of judiciary; it did not rejoin the coalition after the judges were restored; it co-operated for the revision of the Constitution and NFC Award; and it opposed the renaming of NWFP. But it has made two errors since.
It needs to review its position on Hazara Province , and it should stop saying that ‘Generals destroyed institutions’. The demand for Hazara Province is the natural outcome of what AZ calls ‘giving that province an identity’. The Hazarawals do not share that identity – the gift of AZ. Nawaz Sharif (NS) must see that and say that.
The accusation against the Generals is a lie. When they were managing the Electricity Departments (WAPDA/PEPCO etc) , Railways, Steel Mills, PIA etc, these companies were profitable; under ‘civil’ management they need a subsidy of 350 billion rupees. Ex servicemen as VCs of universities eliminated indiscipline among students as well as teachers and made them a place for learning rather than politics.
The fashion to revile the services symbolises ingratitude for their service and sacrifices; it is not good for the solidarity of the nation. NS cannot promote national cohesion by reviling the armed forces.
It is wise to have raised the issue of the Kalabagh Dam. Its rejection is associated with the ANP and MQM and now the AZ PPP. All these parties call themselves ‘secular’, which is an expression which means ‘irreligious’ to most people. Overwhelming majority in Pakistan does not see themselves as ‘irreligious’.
The JUI, which is a Takfiri, group, is also a part of the AZ formula for perpetual power. The JUI is an ally of the ‘irreligious’ because it has a soft corner for India and the ‘secularists’ are all pro-India. PML(N) subscribes to Islam as the polity of Pakistan . Each component of the ruling coalition is natural nemesis of the PML(N).
It is not good politics to question vague objectives of the adversary; but it is good to attack them when they come out with an evil objective. Opposition to Kalabagh Dam is an evil objective. Dams do not consume water; they store water which can be used by all the barrages downstream.
More water would be available to Sindh if the Kalabagh Dam is built. If the fears of Sindh cannot be eliminated without dropping the proposal for high level canals from the dam, it should be dropped.
AZ has declared his hand. He wants to rule Pakistan and Punjab being ruled by his opposition suits him. That is the scheme of the devil that wishes to undermine Pakistan by imposing upon it rule of enemy collaborators. To advance the enemy agenda, AZ continues to pick fights – one at a time – inside the country in order to neutralise the potential of Pakistan to project its power outside to protect its interests.
It is time, as the Americans say, “not to be mad but to get even”. It is time to pick a fight with AZ on Kalabagh Dam, on Drone Attacks and on Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline. I am sure AZ would end up losing all these fights and his dream for perpetual power would end in nightmare.
The writer is the Secretary General of Rifah Party of Pakistan