There’s something about Zardari

Published: August 16, 2010
The writer is a lawyer with Malik, Chaudhry, Ahmed, Siddiqi and Waheed in Karachi

The writer is a lawyer with Malik, Chaudhry, Ahmed, Siddiqi and Waheed in Karachi [email protected]

Benazir Bhutto may have been the daughter of the east, but President Asif Ali Zardari is definitely the punching bag of the east, west and every other location in this world. Whether it be his chateau in France, his Swiss accounts, his supposedly ‘undemocratic’ statements, President Zardari is getting a good dose of ‘reality’ wherever he goes.

At the core of these recent assaults on the ‘honourable’ presidency is the fact that the people in Pakistan, including the various institutional players in the nation, tend to portray the president as a predatory character appearing out of thin air to loot and plunder the land and make the lives of the innocent and helpless Pakistani miserable. He is depicted as an individual born and bred in a bubble devoid of any connection to the moral ethics of the average Pakistani, and is censured, ridiculed and embarrassed for his alleged corruption and greed.

However, the fact is that President Zardari hasn’t fallen out of the sky or been ‘imported’ from a foreign country. He has lived amongst us and been brought up by the very people who now ironically exhibit disgust at his actions. If he is in fact as corrupt as people suggest, as much as one would like to deny it, he would probably be an adequate representation of a country which is sinking under the pressures of corruption, nepotism and lawlessness.

After all, it is in this country that you find a public which plays a decisive role in  promoting and encouraging the taking and giving of bribes to policemen, judicial officials, and other government officials in order to ‘speed along’ their transactions or actions of interest. They openly and shamelessly evade taxes whilst demanding that the president declare his assets. Furthermore, it was the average Pakistani who gathered relief goods, for the affected families of the 2005 earthquake and then sold them in the open market for a quick buck rather than actually distributing them amongst the needy.  In recent times, the public was also seen running towards the wreckage of Flight ED202, not to search for survivors, but rather to steal whatever ‘booty’ they could lay their hands on in a moment of opportunity. This public is also composed of those businessmen who hoard goods, inflate prices, and ensure that essential items remain out of the reach of the less fortunate. And finally our public is further represented by those traffic police officers and other officials who vow to hold the powers that be accountable for their actions and yet are caught innumerable times violating the rules themselves.

All of these persons are members of the public and represent the level of corruption and decadence which is seemingly seeping into the core of our social fabric. Now this is not to say that each and every member of the public is rotten to the core, because clearly that isn’t the case. However, when one sees the types of activities and ethical ‘misconduct’ mentioned above, taking place in all spheres of public and private life in Pakistan, one finds it hard to digest criticism of a president who in fact seems to be a splitting image of the kind of society we now live in. If the above mentioned snapshots of public behaviour are evidence of anything, it is that undeniably, and unfortunately, there is a little bit of Zardari in all of us.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (50)

  • Faraz
    Aug 16, 2010 - 10:28AM

    Our state of affairs are so sad. Every conversation i have with my friends leads us to the same answer i.e Pakistan is sinking and there is no hope. When will this change and when will we learn to elect leaders rather then self serving theives or power hungry military dictators. Do we deserve better or is this really who we are and what we are destined to remain.Recommend

  • Sultan Ahmed.
    Aug 16, 2010 - 10:56AM

    your efforts,fruitless efforts,never succeed,proving a president an icon of corruption.

    Wrong ,absolutely wrong,he has been Mr.ten percent,he has been but committed no crime,history is witness a remarkable role has been attributed to his personality and character.

    With reference,present floods in the country,he has played a role,gone to abroad, has meeting with many head of states and
    convinced them and in result you can aid is coming without ant interval,it was essential to visit there so no need to oppose it.

    As you have recently been seen,president visited flood-effected points saw the the effected people so many areas.

    On his instructions,prime minister had meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif and thereafter a common commission was instituted which provide relief to and supervise relief work and invest the aid money on the resettling the people.

    As you have seen the result of those who published the news of London occurrence ,occurrence took place or not but Mr.Shamim Khan is present as a witness,he confessed his crime,no need to go into the details because he is president.

    the president who voluntarily handed over all powers to the prime minister,he is great but at the tough time it has to do,should see the time and understand the indication of time.Recommend

  • Kamran
    Aug 16, 2010 - 10:56AM

    Agree 100% with you, it’s what I was thinking an hour ago when I visited Islamabad Kachehri, we are all soaked in this curse of getting things done quickly with the aid of money and nepotism. And those on the other side are making money letting the perpetrators go by unscathed.. You can hate Zardari as much as you like but best start it with hating yourself when you do such heinous actions. I agree we have honest people around but the probability of getting such a person at a premier post is almost exactly the same as finding a survivor out of a fully sunken village. The greater the number of honest people, the more the hope we have, so start with yourself, now….Recommend

  • Tabarak Razvi
    Aug 16, 2010 - 10:57AM

    I have to agree totally with your comments that we, as a nation, deserve the mess that we’re in (re democratically elected government and head of state). A nation with a literacy level barely in double digits can’t be expected to do anything more. The question that really begs is are we ready for democracy? Have we not seen enough civilian governments plundering every available asset the country holds for their personal gain? And while I’m the first one to raise my hand and say the majority of us ar scallywags and cheats it still doesn’t justify corruption at the highest level. We’re a nation of illiterate cheats so we’ll choose someone who will let us go on cheating. I think we need some one to kick our butts and tell us to behave. Is that the army? I don’t know.

    Well written piece, though. Very insightful.Recommend

  • Ghazanfer Hasan
    Aug 16, 2010 - 11:32AM

    The so called democratic government in Pakistan is actually not democratic. Democracy is when leaders are from the public, elected by the public. Unfortunately in the case of Pakistan politics most of these presumed leaders are sort of tribe leaders of their area or constituency and people have no other choice than to vote them. Adding to the misery of situation is poverty and lack of education which is never given priority by any government in past due to the reason that restrict the mental awareness of people to stand up and spit on the faces of these tribal chiefs.Recommend

  • passerby
    Aug 16, 2010 - 11:38AM

    Pakistan certainly is feudal. These feudal lords still exist from before the time Pakistan was formed.

    There needs to be elections for the leadership of political parties. That would be the start of real democracy in Pakistan, and lead to the eventual dissolution of feudal power. Currently, the system is the political parties are really family groups that have millions and millions of (looted) dollars. If they ceased to be family groups, there would inevitably be less votes bought by the family heads, since their money would be aiding someone else unrelated to them. No point in doing that, therefore less corrupt elections. Eventually it would lead a fairly honest election process. To implement it wouldn’t be difficult, but would need an honest, intelligent person to do it. Recommend

  • Shahryar Ahmed
    Aug 16, 2010 - 11:52AM

    I agree with the writer 100%. We should not blame Zardari, Bhutto, Nawaz and other politicians for all our ill’s. We & only we are too blamed for all this, because we bring these people to power. We listen to their lies & we overlook their ill gotten fortunes. Why should we lame them, they no nothing better than t loot & plunder? Knowingly, we elect them again & again and after they are gone, we will keep electing their kin.

    Mr. Sultan Ahmed, which planet do you live on? Can you please tell me how a person like Mr. Zardari, (having no reputable education, no noble linage or great inheritance) own a place in UK, a French Chateau & a Spanish villa, Swiss bank Accounts & lord knows what else, when only 30 years back was the son of Bambino cinema owner & had a few acres of agricultural land as inheritance?

    Please wake up for sake of your children & accept the reality.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Aug 16, 2010 - 12:33PM

    This is sad but true. A lot of people are heard saying the same thing nowadays that we deserve the leaders and the mess they’ve created. Just go out driving even on the “civilized” roads of Islamabad and people do the darndest things endangering themselves and anyone around them just to get to their destinations literally 2-5 minutes earlier. This level of impatience and more importantly, the need to find a “short cut” applies to everything in life thus leading to cheating, bribery, etc. May God have mercy on this nation.Recommend

  • Ali Haider
    Aug 16, 2010 - 5:19PM

    Spot on!Recommend

  • parvez
    Aug 16, 2010 - 6:11PM

    Brilliant, you have shown us the man in the mirror.
    I like your approach but on careful consideration it is a bit simplistic. Recommend

  • Shahzad Ali
    Aug 16, 2010 - 6:31PM

    Democracy has no filter to filter on the basis of ethics and morality. Unless, there is a strong law enforcement agency, democracy can easily turn to evil.
    The current system has to be flushed. Bring out a breed of people who do good, ask others to do good, and forbid evil (without giving them any name, like Taliban), which in turn will breed out another type of people, who would have worldly knowledge and morally good, enough, to start a Khilafat Based System.
    The next steps would be to eliminate borders amongst Muslim countries. Install barter trade amongst states and real gold/silver based economic system. Recommend

  • Aug 16, 2010 - 6:36PM

    in matters of corruption everyone is guilty…some more…some lessRecommend

  • Dr. Altaf ul Hassan
    Aug 16, 2010 - 6:59PM

    You had to declare each and every one in this country corrupt and spared no one to establish your point i.e to malign President Zardari.No one has done this with such a cleverness.One must appreciate your intellect.Recommend

  • Dr. Altaf ul Hassan
    Aug 16, 2010 - 7:18PM

    You could have spared yourself at least.One must not be so much ruthless.AB.Recommend

  • Moiz
    Aug 16, 2010 - 7:46PM

    I agree with you when you say that we as a nation have been corrupt. But don’t forget that our morals and actions have been deteriorating with time due to the fact that there is room to do so. This room is created when leadership at the top is corrupt and the law isn’t strict enough.

    Everyone has a side within them that wants to avoid taxes and pay bribes. Even in the west, people want to do that, but are restricted because the leadership implements strong laws that prevents them from doing so.

  • Nasir Mustafa
    Aug 16, 2010 - 10:24PM

    You are very right, by and large we are characterless and our real crisis is the crisis of morality. Mr. President is the true representative of the nation. We are in a habit of putting blames on others, the easiest task on the face of the earth.Recommend

  • Aug 16, 2010 - 11:41PM

    I am not sure why so many people hate Zardari and simply fail to notice Sharif brothers or our mullah, Fazlur Rehman. What is it that we all tend to hate one man (Zardari) and leave most dangerous culprits, Shahbaz Sharif (who supports Taliban in Pakistan) and the likes of Wahabi mullahs. I am sure Pakistanis can be more rational in their judgment. And I also hope that when Zardari finally leaves presidency we don’t just bring in extremists like Sharif brothers. Our country will be worse than before. God forbid.Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Aug 17, 2010 - 12:55AM

    Why to only put blame on President Zardari when 95% of the nation is corrupt. The country is running only on 5% of honest people who do not have thier roof to give shetler to their family members.

    I am not the Chairman of NAB, otherwise, I would have opened files to inquire about the corrupt political leaders, businessmen, bureaucrats, low level government and judicial servants and the Mullahs who are cheating people of Pakistan in the name of Allah.

    Corruption is a cancer for Pakistan. And there are people who became corrupt due to the system of Pakistan which provide opportunity for the people to become corrupt.

    I have never seen my father using official car for personal use. He never allowed us to sit in the car, as in his opinion the official car was given to him to perform official work, but those were the old days. I can see now the familes of government servants including the police using official cars for personal reasons.

    In my opinion if a person cannot be honest with the country, he will never be honest with his fown family members.

    People take bribes which is Haram and then proudly say that they have earned Halal money and the assests made by them with unshakeable dtermination and by doing day and night hard work.

    If hard work can lead to the success, they why an ordinary labour of Pakistan cannot become rich at the time of his retirement, after doing day and night hard work?

    People pray five times in the mosques and even then cannot speak the truth.

    We are a double standard nation. Each and every TV channel of Pakistan is telecasting stories of flood victims, but who else has come up to rescue and save the people from hunder and death, except the personnel of armed forces who are working day and night to save the precious human lives.Recommend

    Aug 17, 2010 - 2:33AM

    “there is a little bit of Zardari in all of us”
    why donot u say “there is little bit of punjabi pana in all of us”
    we r nation of hypocrates and moraly corrupt people
    corruption existed even before zardari
    go and ask any army general may b he made more money in defence contract deal rather than politician in road contractRecommend

  • Aug 17, 2010 - 2:52AM

    well done good sirRecommend

  • Pakistani
    Aug 17, 2010 - 2:55AM

    Jaisi qom waisey hukmaranRecommend

  • Asma
    Aug 17, 2010 - 2:56AM

    What are you talking about? These ill-bred, incompetent, corrupt, politicians are not representative of our country. Don’t forget that our country is made up of a large rural population that does not have the opportunity nor means to even participate in the larger economic, social, political process. The corruption among police, bureaucrats, and other govt. institutions is a direct result of the corrupt leaders we have had. We are responsible, yes, for not breeding enough good leaders and forcing our kids to go into politics so that maybe, some decades later, we may have a few good men and women in the parliament. But we are not responsible for Zardari. Recommend

  • acenith harper
    Aug 17, 2010 - 4:07AM

    we every election vote in corrupt leaders and refuse to learn a lesson !! we have to break this cycle!!Recommend

  • Sultan Ahmed.
    Aug 17, 2010 - 6:21AM

    It is propaganda that,
    president visited UK and he was addressing meeting and during the meeting an untoward incident taken place,
    wrong absolutely wrong,may be,but I don’t believe because there is no footage in the national and international media.

    I heard Shamim Khan’s interview,he admit that he committed the crime by throwing shoe toward the president but I understand it is also part of propaganda campaign.

    Now the question before us is that why the inter national media reported this incident?
    Having read the news I come to the conclusion that they can not tolerate the popularity of the president, western countries always enemy of those who has unique political brain .

    Our president has brain have no example in the world, see his tour of UK at the time whole nation facing tremendous rain and flood but put a side everything and gone under the torrential rain reached the destination and requested for help, as you have seen Camron admitted his stance inclined to provide economic assistance,
    and thereafter whole west awake and looked to ready for help,masterpiece masterpiece.Recommend

  • Sultan Ahmed.
    Aug 17, 2010 - 6:42AM

    Fortunately or unfortunately,
    you can say it our fortune,
    our country namely Pakistan,
    is going through a tough circumstances
    God keep it save from the bad eyes of enemies.Recommend

  • shy
    Aug 17, 2010 - 6:48AM


  • Concerned Pakistani
    Aug 17, 2010 - 7:46AM

    I think your article is very well written and it highlights one of the problems in Pakistan – the corruption of Pakistanis at large. We would love to have honest cops, but we hate to get caught for speeding. We would love proper processes, but hate to stand in the line. But at the same time, it is criminal to say Mr. Zardari is not guiltier than the ordinary Pakistani is. The one thing our people and our journalists do not understand (perhaps they do not want to understand) is that politicians everywhere in the world are corrupt. Politics is an inherently dirty business. The only difference is that perhaps politicians in other countries do a little bit more for their people than they do for their pocket.Recommend

  • aq
    Aug 17, 2010 - 10:52AM

    I believe that a good leader can handle its people lead them towards the right direction however a nation cannot guide its leader if corruption runs in the blood and I am sorry to say no matter how bad we might be as a nation, but with a strong leadership and staunch laws all this can change.Recommend

  • lkhan
    Aug 17, 2010 - 11:38AM

    Agree 100%, survival of a democratic system is the only solution. Awareness that exists, will through the ballot box demand change especially after this monumental natural catastrophe. The suffering beyond belief of the 20 million, given infrastructure and the agriculture sector have been obliterated in the passage of the floods from north to south is a test to bring all together for relief and reconstruction of the affected areas. It is time people of Pakistan for the nation to survive, put vested interests and pathetic criticisms on the back burner, and work to the maximum to relieve the suffering of the poor. The situation is horrific, food shortages for the next two years forecast by the UN. Please wake up.Recommend

  • arif jamal
    Aug 17, 2010 - 12:00PM

    Remember that corruption comes from top to bottom. those who are elevated on higher positions and comparatively enjoy better life should become role model for their sub-ordinates. Most of Our elites including politicians, bureaucrats, generals( who are in power) are supposed to resolve the problems of common people and improve their living standard
    Like wise most of the businessmen try to earn maximum profit and pay minimum tax. But all these people who have not only failed to fulfill their obligation toward the country but also indulge themselves in loot and plunder and involve in nepotism as well. The same exercise has been going on from the last 50 years. watching their malpractice common people also follow their elites. In this manner, the whole country has involved in corruption. We are waiting a Nelson Mandella who spent most of his precious time in prison for noble cause and later on became the most poweful person of his country but after remaining five years in power he quit and paved the way for others. He never exploited his sacrifices to stick the power for ever. Recommend

  • Hamid Ahmed Khan.
    Aug 17, 2010 - 12:47PM

    Even though the last line made me puke a little in my mouth, it is but thoroughly true. Well written.Recommend

  • Aug 17, 2010 - 1:06PM

    There is DEFINITELY something about President Zardari…..Recommend

  • faryal
    Aug 17, 2010 - 3:31PM

    well writtenRecommend

  • ameen
    Aug 17, 2010 - 4:50PM

    Aha! Farhatullah Babar IIRecommend

  • Farhan
    Aug 17, 2010 - 5:11PM

    I cant figure out if Sultan Ahmad’s comment above is tongue-in-cheek or not….

    Anyway – I think they missed out Shaukat, Chattha and Billu in “Malik, Chaudhry, Ahmed, Siddiqi and Waheed”Recommend

  • Aug 17, 2010 - 6:08PM

    i have a blog called copy-paste material, where i wrote this line “You have to admit – we all have a little Zardari within us.” about two years ago.

    glad to see it has finally made it in to the mainstream.Recommend

  • Shahid Latif
    Aug 17, 2010 - 6:21PM

    Mr.Zardari is not a person but a Nation. We have a histroy of looting ourself. These days water Flood is Production of nature but 1947 Flood of Blood was procuction of our nation. yes,”Politics is an inherently dirty business”.so “dont burn fuel and valuable time trying to empower the stupid of our nation”.Recommend

  • Faraz Ahmed
    Aug 17, 2010 - 7:42PM

    Would have to agree with every bit of this article. Mr Zardari has been one of those ppl who are solely bred in Pakistan and therefore he is a true representative of what we are today. He is like the mirror image of ourselves and all we have been doing during his tenure, is cursing our own image.We need to fix ourselves rather at pointing fingers at others. Recommend

  • MK
    Aug 17, 2010 - 7:49PM

    There may be a little Zardari in all of us, but not all of us take the responsibility of becoming the President, or become the president for that matter.
    Maybe, the ‘little bit of Zardari’ in all of us needs to be dropped at that point?Recommend

  • Aug 17, 2010 - 8:30PM

    The sad thing is that those who target Zardari are not sincerely doing it for sake of corruption and good governance, as an agent of some unidentified but known forces – this is again equally condemnable as that of Zardari’s perceived corruption. media campaigning and maligning Zardari and his Govt to facilitate and ease the take over of power by Army which in turn has demonstrated several times how corrupt it is besides the fact that it does not represent any group of people in Pakistan especially sindhis and Balochs. Army rulers have an exemption to criticism – Recommend

    Aug 18, 2010 - 10:36AM

    while agreeing with the author iwould that the corruption is deeprooted in our pshysce. knoein a man is corrupt we again again elect him. let us look at the fake degree holders have they not comitted a forgery which is a criminal act under ppc. why have they not been put behind the gallows. those plunderers have not contributed in the relief efforts. the country is inviting ——- INQILAB.Recommend

  • Masood AHmed
    Aug 18, 2010 - 1:48PM

    True, we are facing results of our own deeds….Recommend

  • Madiha Mustafa
    Aug 18, 2010 - 2:51PM

    True…”WE” the people are too b we chose our him as our leader…Recommend

  • Dr. Altaf ul Hassan
    Aug 18, 2010 - 5:41PM

    All this debate is getting momentum day by day on the wrongly grown preconceived notion of consideraing President Asif Ali Zardari as “corrupt” without any allegation proved in any court of law (which by itself is an offense) and in doing so every body has directly or indirectly confessed of being corrupt.It is noteworthy that the author of this article proclaims to be a lawyer.

    We should behave responsibly and as a nation one should avoid such kind of “pseudo-intellectually luxury” of maligning elected leadership of this country and should give due respects to those who are democratically elected and should wait to elect “the angeles” of one’s own choice in the next coming elections if we want want democracy to flourish in this country.Recommend

  • Naushad Shafkat
    Aug 18, 2010 - 6:57PM

    Mr. Malik’s article is disappointing to say the least. More disappointing when we find that Mr. Malik is a lawyer. Why has President Zardari been assumed to be corrupt? Just because the media (itself no Snow White) says so? Even though tens of millions were spent by governments openly inimical to President Zardari and he was jailed for years not a single case was proved against him. Is it not a maxim of law that everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty? The feeling in my beloved Sindh is gaining ground that President Zardari is being targeted only because he hails from Sindh. The media is controlled by people who are ‘for sale’ commodities. Unfortunately it is this media that controls what we think and hear. Mr. Malik, as a lawyer, should have known better and not written as if he were an illiterate so easily swayed by our controlled media. Recommend

  • Farah Jan
    Aug 19, 2010 - 10:55AM

    Its about time that we change our attitude. Its about time that we start building Pakistan. We need to address these issues as a collective entity (PAKISTANI’S) united in mending our beautiful nation. We need to get rid of the Zardari’s within us as well as without. As Gandhi said change has to come from within. We need to wake up before it gets too late. Pakistan is not Afghanistan and we need to protect it from becoming like Afghanistan. Long Live Pakistan and May Allah protect our land from such horrendous and corrupt rulers like Zardari and his cronies. Recommend

  • Dr. Altaf ul Hassan
    Aug 19, 2010 - 12:53PM

    The main theme of this article is to malign democratically elected President of Pakistan by those who could not elect a person of their own choice (and this is being done by a person who proclaims to be a lawyer) without having proved President Zardari guilty in any court of law. .

    There is need to avoid such sort of “pseudo-intellectual luxury” and to develop an attitude which favours to flourish democracy in this country.One shoudl give due respects to the democratically elected leadership and should avoid to malign with ulterior motives who so evr come after being elelcted and should wait for the next coming elections to elect the “angels’ of one’s own choice.This might be in line with the spirits of democracy.Recommend

  • Aug 19, 2010 - 5:25PM

    Well sir, the ideals of leadership are reflected amongst its people. Right now, it seems, that (not to stereotype) the grief stricken are clearly corrupted. Greedy is someone who is getting yet takes more by all means possible. Needy is someone who is not getting and wants to get. While there is a realization of what greed is and the majority (it seems) tends to avoid (at least unfair means) it, the needy are less incapable of doing so.
    You say you can’t blame the needy, but there will remain hope so long as people don’t turn to greed.
    Then again, I think there are many in the business community that do hoard, which is greed.
    Sometimes is gets hard to decide whether they are more of us or less of us.Recommend

  • Mubashir
    Aug 20, 2010 - 8:06AM

    Well said. True and shameful for a muslim country! we aren’t honest to ourselves or to God.Recommend

  • 7eba
    Aug 21, 2010 - 5:20PM

    “there is a little bit of Zardari in all of us.”
    Sad but true.Recommend

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