Bleak future for President Zardari in new parliament

By AFP
Published: May 31, 2013

File photo of President Zardari in front of Benazir Bhutto's portrait. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s new National Assembly will be sworn in Saturday, completing the country’s first ever democratic transition of power, but for President Asif Ali Zardari the political future looks bleak.

Pakistan’s 65-year history has been punctuated by three periods of military rule and Zardari was credited with steering the country to its democratic milestone by holding together the fractious coalition government led by his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for its full five-year term.

But the PPP was routed at the polls, blamed by voters for five years of apathy and drift which saw crippling power shortages worsen and militancy continue almost unabated.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) romped to victory and will command 177 of the 342 seats in the new assembly, giving it significant leverage to oust Zardari from the president’s house when his term expires in September.

The president is chosen by an electoral college comprising the national assembly, senate and four provincial assemblies.

In the run-up to the May 11 election there had been suggestions the PML-N would allow Zardari, the widower of PPP icon Benazir Bhutto, to stay on in return for his party’s cooperation in the lower house.

But analyst Imtiaz Gul said that while the PML-N was unlikely to seek an immediate confrontation with Zardari, his days in the top job were numbered. Veteran PML-N leader Sartaj Aziz has been tipped as a possible replacement.

“Based on past experiences, PML-N is likely to let Zardari complete his term rather than gunning for him or forcing him out of his office prematurely,” Gul told AFP.

But he added: “Zardari’s future as president has become bleak following routing of his party in the election”.

Sharif will be sworn in as prime minister for an unprecedented third term on Wednesday. During his two previous administrations he earned a reputation for hotheadedness and pugnacity.

But the problems facing his new government are enormous – a failing economy, endless power cuts and rampant militancy – and analysts say the 63-year-old is likely to seek a more conciliatory path.

“With ample challenges and limited resources at their disposal, the government will have to play cool with the opposition by avoiding any confrontation and focusing more on the economy,” said political commentator Hasan Askari.

Another key question is how Sharif will handle the Pakistani Taliban. He had mooted the idea of talks with the militants but on Thursday they withdrew their offer of dialogue after their number two was killed in a US drone strike.

Reader Comments (22)

  • jibran
    May 31, 2013 - 5:50PM

    What kind of news is this. PML N won’t be able to oust the president, even if it tries, which I doubt very much. After his term is over, he will not be able to get re-elected, and I doubt he will seek re-election.

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  • ;-)chief
    May 31, 2013 - 6:00PM

    nothing gonna change, because masses are the same…..!!!!

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  • Tausif
    May 31, 2013 - 6:11PM

    With Pakistan’s presidency, your presidential immunity will also be gone Mr. Zardari!!!

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  • Junaid
    May 31, 2013 - 6:11PM

    What makes you think he will be looking for a second term? He has almost categorically said that he would be rebuilding the party after his term ends which means that he is unlikely to stand for elections again.

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  • yp mississauga
    May 31, 2013 - 6:22PM

    Its his own making.

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  • ;-)chief
    May 31, 2013 - 6:29PM

    @Tausif:
    With such relaxed courts nobody wsa ever convicted so far…..!!!!

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  • JUSTICE
    May 31, 2013 - 6:46PM

    @chief
    Praying and Hoping that our courts will bring justice. Hmmm …… well just hoping !!!!!

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  • Potjernik
    May 31, 2013 - 7:07PM

    What a waste of paper and web space this article is!! What is it about? On sentence or two of the self proclaimed analyst Imtiaz Gul?!?

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  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    May 31, 2013 - 7:16PM

    NS’s party “command 177 of the 342 seats in the new assembly, giving it significant leverage to oust Zardari from the president’s house when his term expires in September”. It is just mind boggling to read this sentence, if Zardari’s tenure ends in September then what will be gained by ousting him unless you think he will not vacate the President House, I think he will be glad to leave for Dubai as soon as he is through with Pakistan and it’s treasury.

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  • John the Baptist
    May 31, 2013 - 7:25PM

    How many jobs is Sartaj Aziz “tipped” to perform according to ET? Everyday, he is slotted for a new one. So far it has been: President, Foreign Minister. Finance Minister, Economic Advisor, and SPB President. What is it going to be next? Undertaker?

    O’ idiocity, ET is thy name!

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  • awais
    May 31, 2013 - 7:29PM

    The author forgot that PPP still has majority in the senate. Would be interesting to see what happens.

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  • Bashir Bashira
    May 31, 2013 - 7:32PM

    I like his smile. His teeth are really nice.

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  • PickAPalace
    May 31, 2013 - 7:46PM

    The palace in Dubai and the Chateau in France are both being readied. He hasn’t decided where to move from the President’s House.
    I just hope that the SC does not go after him. I don’t want another politician ending up in London.

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  • Waseem Samma
    May 31, 2013 - 7:56PM

    Good Riddance!!!!!! About time, Pakistan cannot afford an extra second of Zardari at the helms with his continuous malicious scheming in which 180 million Pakistanis have suffered. Read this Bilawal!!!!

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  • ThePast
    May 31, 2013 - 8:20PM

    When Nawaz Sharif was in opposition PMLN put forward a neutral candidate for President to stand against Asif Zardari…And I believe stated that the President should be of neutral standing…Why would they then put forward Veteran PML-N leader Sartaj Aziz as a replacement as he is not neutral….One Rule When in Opposition and One Rule When in Charge…If I was thinking Conspiracy, I may think Mr Nawaz wanted Zardari to win that is why he did not put Javid Hashmi forward last time and now as he is in power to do what he wants…Why did Nawaz state last time that President should be Neutral???? I hope he follows this rule….

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  • Ahmad
    May 31, 2013 - 8:25PM

    If there is any shame left, HH Zardari should resign asap and go home and rest..

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  • Ahmad
    May 31, 2013 - 8:27PM

    @Bashir Bashira:
    Ad from “Dentonic” powder??

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  • Pakistani
    May 31, 2013 - 8:41PM

    @ET:
    Why is it always that you have to copy articles from DAWN? And i know my comment will never be published.

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  • malik
    May 31, 2013 - 9:39PM

    It is requested that impachment proceeding must initiated against him

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  • May 31, 2013 - 10:57PM

    Impeachment is not the only solution,he must be tried for all those crimes for which he was continually accused of over the last 5 years & also the money he took away should be recovered.But,how can it be done, again MNS will come to his rescue.

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  • pak_liberal
    Jun 1, 2013 - 1:31AM

    You cannot oust a President so easily. You have to impeach him as rules laid down in the constitution. PML will not try to do that as just few months are left. They will let him pass the time and complete his term.

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  • Jun 2, 2013 - 10:50AM

    The sooner the PPP clan gets out of the country the better for all of us. The sooner a democratic setup originates in the PPP, it will be a blessing for the party fold. The old guards have proven their impotence and the new members will emerge victorious, Inshallah.

    Nawaz is turning out to be a changed man and politician after being out of power for thirteen years. The development strategy of the PMLN in Punjab has turned tables on the senses of many politicians. We wish him success in Pakistan’s economic and social recovery. Salams

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