Shoe throwing and the need for maturity

I'm not trying to justify the wrongs President Zardari has done. I mean to highlight the need for national interest over growing frustration. Emotional instability reigns.

Samir Butt August 18, 2010
It was a matter of shame when a shoe was allegedly thrown at the President of Pakistan in Britain. Yet, in some twisted way, many people felt proud of what happened. No, I do not support President Zardari, but I respect the position of the President of Pakistan. Before jumping to conclusions, please read on.

A recent wave of negative propaganda against President Zardari is rather disturbing from a national perspective.  Institutions form the government structure, not individuals. Asif Zardari, Yousaf Gilani, and Iftikhar Chaudhry are temporary, but the structure they represent will last. People in power have always suffered criticism, and this is not a local phenomena. But patience has no alternative. Every institution needs time to grow and become mature. Sadly, the only institution that was allocated time and money to groom was the Pakistan Army which has, on various occasions, misused its authority. Without diverting to a new debate, it should be noted that the legislative bodies and the courts of justice have been neglected, or even tempered with, in Pakistan.

On a national level, President Zardari is constantly criticised through the various forms of media. He has been maligned to the extent that international publications have started taking pleasure in throwing dirt on him. What we need to realise is, that on a national level, we may be talking about Asif Ali Zardari but to the international audience, he is the President of Pakistan, the head of state. This article is not meant to justify the wrongs President Zardari has done. It is meant to highlight national interest over growing frustration. The emotional instability that exists clearly overshadows the rational thinking required for the foundations to grow.

At the same time, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry may have done some very valuable services to the nation but our loyalty should remain with the institution and not the individual. It is the position of the Chief Justice of Pakistan that would always bear the burden of delivering justice to the people. We need to ensure that the civil society continues to support every Chief Justice in the same way. Chaudhry has started a process that must continue if we want to enjoy the fruits in the long run.

Individuals will not live forever. Institutions will be run by one person after the other, and will define the route Pakistan takes. We need to strengthen the foundations of the institutions by positively criticizing the personalities and giving the institutions room to grow. Without stooping to an inappropriately low level, we must get our voices heard through various forums and tell the government what mistakes they are making.

By openly criticising the President of Pakistan, the international community is starting to lose faith in the Pakistani government. At a time when Pakistan is in dire need of funds and support, continuous harping about President Zardari’s alleged cases will not help. It is the flood affected who will suffer, not Zardari. BBC reports that aid agencies blame Pakistan’s ‘image deficit’ for the slow response. To start with, that is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. While millions of innocent people are helpless seeking humanitarian support, such an argument is a shame for the global community. Nonetheless, it is a fact. When Pakistanis label their own government as not utilising the funds properly, obviously the international community will have its doubts. There is a time for everything, and now is the time to stand united and help the government deliver to the people.

While the constitution clearly defines the importance of institutions, the masses have always focused on individuals. This myopic view has led to the stagnation of Pakistan – politically, economically and socially.
Samir Butt A former Youth Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Fulbright undergraduate scholar, freelance writer, public speaking trainer, IT consultant and marketing professional. He blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Samir | 13 years ago | Reply @Dr Tahir ... I am in absolutely no position to dictate anyone. All my blogs hold my personal opinion only. I strongly believe that Zardari should be criticized for whatever wrong he does. I personally have no good thoughts about the present government. But I believe we must criticize in a civil manner. Hurling abuse and throwing shoes is no way to treat a President, who by the way, is elected. If he was a dictator, I probably would not have written this blog in the first place because a dictator forces himself onto the country.
Dr Tahir Naeem Khan | 13 years ago | Reply @Samir...There is no harm in admitting you opinion did not carry weight with most of us. First of all as I said before don't equate slur on Zardari as slur on the office of presidency. It is infact Zardari who is disgracing the office of Presidency and not the shoe thrower. I expect your next article should then be on Zardari. You talk of democracy and then criticize people or in other words dictate people how to practice it. Secondly, You said Musharraf 100% support of Afghan war caused us 46 billion but did Zardari or his Govt do anything different? That is why people behave in an extraordinary way -shoe throwing is just one manifestation.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ