The media-venting of ire against the head of state of this Islamic Republic continues, like the floods, unabated. Scorn is heaped upon the head of government as Yousaf Raza Gilani so pathetically blunders by word and deed.
Who put who where and why? Well, the reviled head of state was installed by our controller, the US, after plans went awry with the murder of Benazir Bhutto. His ascension into the presidential palace was assured when, three days after his wife’s death, he wrested the leadership of her party. Had Benazir lived to fulfil her deal with the Western powers and Pervez Musharraf, Zardari would not even have been in Pakistan. He was destined to play no role in any government she may have formed and was to be kept at arm’s length. Maximum advantage was taken of her death and with a turnout of some 30 per cent of the electorate, the PPP was voted in — its mandate is hardly weighty whatever Zardari/Gilani may claim.
Zardari did not stand for election before the people. He appointed a man from Punjab (the sole qualification) as prime minister so as to clear the way for ascent to the presidency. He conspired against Musharraf, despite the ‘deal’ (in which army chief Ashfaq Kayani had played a major role), rid himself of the troublesome general, and, voila, he was president. Ill-suited he was, admitted at home and abroad, with a reputation that preceded him, notorious for his deeds as the husband of a prime minister, for his personal fortune amassed in that role, and for the years he spent incarcerated in hospitals or prisons, and for subsequent diagnosis of mental illness. Expectations were hardly high — so why do we now grumble?
We should be heartily grumbling at the parliamentarians of all hues, who were fully primed as to his reputation and fully knowledgeable of his capabilities in various fields and his failings in others. This irresponsible, even criminal, body of persons voted him in as their head of state, even at that time making a mockery of the position and of the country. For allowing themselves to be manipulated, for whatever dubious reasons, they must shoulder the full blame for the ‘trust deficit’ from which Pakistan now suffers mainly because of the Zardari government, with the country’s past and its terrorism factor thrown in for good measure.
The France/England visit the president cannot live down, no matter what his pathetically helpless spokespersons may say. The ‘great deluge’ which triggered the floods, killing 48 people, began on July 28. On July 29, 199 died in rains in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and floods as an emergency was declared across the province. On July 30 there were further deaths and displacements in the same province and its information minister stated that the “heaviest floods in Pakistan’s history” were heading towards the plains of Punjab and Sindh. On July 31 the death toll soared past 1,000 and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was inundated.
On August 1, the head of state flew off to France. On August 2 as the floods raged, Zardari was at the Elysee Palace meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy. On August 3 whilst Gilani was pleading for aid, Zardari informed the French press that the West is losing the war in Afghanistan, helicoptered off to ‘the family’s’ Normandy chateau, and then flew to Britain. On August 4, whilst Karachi was beset by chaos and killings, whilst the floods roared towards Sindh, Zardari relaxed in London. On August 5 he dined with British Prime Minister David Cameron at Chequers whilst some four million Pakistanis were being evacuated. On August 6 he again went to Chequers, and Gilani issued an SOS as Sindh was threatened. Undeterred, on August 8 he addressed the PPP rally in Birmingham, and it was not until August 10 that he returned to Pakistan. His first visit to a flood-hit area was on August 12.
The case rests.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2010.
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