Tuesday, December 6, 2011



The “Dawn News” of Karachi has reported as follows:
“President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday (December 6,2011) arrived in Dubai for a medical check-up. According to presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, the President has traveled to Dubai along with his team of doctors for an extensive medical examination. He added that before his departure, President Zardari had separate meetings with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chairman Senate Farooq H Naik, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik. The President was accompanied not only by his personal doctor Colonel Salman and his medical team, but also by some members of the Assembly, said Mr Babar.”

2. A subsequent report claims that Zardari has entered a Dubai hospital for a medical examination. Babar has been quoted as having denied that Zardari had undergone a medical examination in Pakistan before he was flown to Dubai.

3. Zardari frequently visits Dubai where he has considerable property and investments and where his daughters live. Rarely announcements are made about such private visits. This time, though, his spokesman has taken care to announce his departure for Dubai and to specify that it was for a medical check-up.

4. While no one has questioned that the visit could have been for genuine medical reasons, there has been some speculation as to whether Zardari’s medical condition requiring an urgent check-up might have been triggered by the considerable political pressure faced by him in relation to two current political controversies.

5. The first controversy relates to the so-called Memogate affair. It is about the claims made by Manzoor Ijaz, an American businessman of Pakistani origin, that his services as an intermediary were used by Hussain Haqqani, the then Pakistani Ambassador to the US, in May to pass on a memo to Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, allegedly seeking the good offices of Mullen for exercising pressure on Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff, not to stage a coup against Zardari in the wake of the US commando raid in Abbottabad on the night of May 2 to kill Osama bin Laden.

6. Neither Ijaz’s version of the Memogate affair nor Hussain Haqqani’s denial of Ijaz’s claims has carried conviction so far. The matter is under enquiry by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif has sought a judicial enquiry into the claims of Ijaz by the Supreme court. If the Supreme Court agrees to it and initiates an enquiry, it could have the effect of suspending the ISI enquiry into the matter.

7. Zardari himself, who will be as uncomfortable with the prospects of an enquiry by the Supreme Court as with the ISI enquiry, had indicated that he would be addressing a joint session of the two Houses of the Parliament on the controversy after the Muharrum observance was over on December 6. It is not clear whether he would still go ahead with his proposed address or whether would use his medical condition as an excuse for postponing it indefinitely.

8. The resignation of Hussain Haqqani and his replacement by Ms.Sherry Rehman, who enjoys the confidence of Zardari and is not distrusted by Kayani, as the Pakistani Ambassador to Washington DC has not ended the controversy. The Army as well as the PML of Nawaz Sharif are insisting for a thorough enquiry----each for its own reason. The PML wants to exploit it politically for further weakening Zardari and the Army wants to ensure that Zardari, whom it suspects of being soft to the US, will no longer indulge in such alleged conspiracies against the Army with the complicity of anti-Army and anti-ISI elements in US policy-making circles.

9.The second controversy relates to the recent death of 24 Pakistani military personnel in US air strikes on Pakistani military posts in the Mohmand agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The air strikes have caused considerable anger in the barracks which has been sought to be exploited by the Hizbut Tehrir, which has some following at the lower and middle levels of the Army, for creating disaffection not only against the US, but also against the senior leadership of the Pakistan Army.

10. Considerations of pride and reports of anti-US anger in the public and the subordinate ranks of the Army have made the Army and its senior officers take a seemingly inflexible anti-US stand . There has been suspicion that Zardari does not share the depth of the anti-US sentiments and might be prepared to let bygones be bygones and to let the matter rest after the condolences personally conveyed by President Barack Obama.

11. As a result of these developments, the political situation has become increasingly uncomfortable for Zardari giving rise to speculation that the Army might not be satisfied with the head of Hussain Haqqani and might want in addition that of Zardari whose credibility is low in the eyes of the Army. Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani still enjoys the confidence of Gen.Kayani, but he has very little following in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in which support for Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto, who is head of the party, remains strong.

12. The situation has reached a stage where a full-fledged coup might not be validated post facto by the judiciary and the strong backing still enjoyed by Zardari in the PPP would make his being eased out a difficult option. It is generally believed that Zardari’s visit to Dubai at this stage ostensibly for medical reasons might have the additional purpose of seeking the continued support of the ruling families of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to enable him overcome the difficult political situation back home.

13. It is interesting to note that Zardari has left behind in Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto and Rehman Malik, his trusted Interior Minister--- apparently to keep a watch on the goings-on in the PPP and to ensure that no attempt is made to further undermine his position

14. Will Zardari manage to salvage his position and continue in power or will he quit on medical grounds after having inducted his son as the President? This is a million dollar question to which no answers are available. Bilawal is only 23 years old. Inducting him is going to be difficult. If Zardari decides to quit under the increasing pressure caused by the two controversies, the support presently enjoyed by Zardari and Bilawal in PPP---particularly in Punjab---might evaporate, thereby strengthening the position of Gilani.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75


Dr.Masood Tariq said...

In matter of fact, political parties are supposed to:
1. Work as a bureaucrat to prepare proper plans and programs through well skilled persons of related subject.
2. Act as an administrator to perform party affairs and redress public grievances through well experienced people of related field.
3. Behave as a social worker to interact with party supporters and general public through well respected personalities of related locality.
For this reason, political parties are required to be organized and systemized appropriately by considering the necessity of cadres at union council, tehsil, district, province and national level.
a. Cadre of leaders or initiators: comprised on persons, those possess intellectual wisdom to prepare proper plans and programs.
b. Cadre of workers or motivators: comprised on persons, those have organizational skill to organize and systematize the party.
c. Cadre of supporters or actors: comprised on persons, those are socially well respected among the masses and competent to collaborate and cooperate with public.
However, in Pakistan, political parties were/are never organized and systemized by the party owners according to the political ethics and manners along with party manifesto. Therefore, most of political parties work like Private Limited Companies and have their own sole agents, distributors and salesmen. Because of that most of the politicians have their own paid workers and working partners. They behave with the political workers like customers and they treat the general public like slaves.
CONSEQUENCE: Public feels disappointment, remains dissatisfied, become disillusioned from politicians and political parties. Therefore, opportunists, hypocrites and power as well as money hunger persons get the opportunity to arrange, manage or attain the domination and control of governance or politics. It results administrative victimization, judicial injustice, economical disaster and social polarization.
CONCLUSION: Grooming of local, provincial and national leadership is not possible without well organized and systemized political parties as per party manifesto and according to the political ethics and manners. Otherwise, un-groomed politicians, un-organized and non-systemized political parties have to subordinate or confront the establishment for politics or governance instead of reciprocal, honorable, reliable and fruitful institutional working relationship to perform their charter of duties according to the constitution, laws and rules of business.
DRAWBACK: Although, establishment is well skilled and organized, experienced and systemized in bureaucratic and administrative duties but without political wisdom; whereas political aptitude is necessary for the political and democratic atmosphere. Therefore, direct governance or proxy politics in shape of sponsorship, facilitation or by the way of producing pseudo-political leaders, workers and supporters breed the aggressive, arrogant and authoritarian perception of establishment in individuals, masses and democratic institutions.
It generates the emotions and impression of dictatorial rule of establishment by suppressing the personal, public and political privileges.
It facilitates the opportunists, hypocrites and power as well as money hunger persons to arrange, manage or attain the domination and control in governance or politics.
It leads towards cultivation of race, region and religion related differences, disputes and distrust along with conflicts, confrontations and clashes.
It promotes the personality based politics by the way of own agenda through individually managed and self loyal persons as an alternative of party manifesto politics, which results non-systemized and un-organized party structure; un-skilled and un-experienced leadership and non-political aptitude workers.
It destabilizes the social environment, economical stability and governance system.
It results social polarization, economical disaster and administrative victimization.

Vidyut said...

Few more things knit into this story.

1. The recent letter to the Army urging a take over of Pakistan by a certain militant organization.

2. Subsequent posturing by the Pakistani Army with the US. Even in terms of decisions like stopping NATO trucks, it had a more Army feel, though announced by government. Additionally direct statements of retaliation, etc

3. Malik's recent "thank you" to the Taliban for not killing people on Muharram - utterly unrequired, contrary to the stand of the government vis a vis terrorism. Unknown whether this was under pressure (extended posturing) or voluntary.

I think these signify a subtle shift toward pre 9/11 alliances - which also disempower Zardari politically.

All indications point to the relationship between US/NATO and Pakistan coming to a point of no return. Even if token approaches are made and perhaps briefly accepted.

I think this is important for India, because if this hunch of mine is true, and Pakistan shrugs off the nominal facade of allying against terror, it will almost certainly mean a new difficult era for India with a possible return of open sanction to proxy wars. So I am hoping that our people are paying appropriate attention, because for us, yet another pattern is falling into place for this - the long standing practice of shit hitting fan in Pakistan being fixed by uniting people in enmity against India.

I hope I am wrong and paranoid. Being right on this is going to suck.