When in power, our rulers are healthy as horses, powerful as tigers, brave as lions, cunning as foxes. When in jail, our rulers turn sick as mutts, weak as puppies, fearful as deer in a spotlight. Welcome to the animal kingdom that we have known for decades. In detention, under interrogation, most ‘iron men’ collapse with fear of what is to come. Their internal systems shut down. The old ticker races at a deathly speed shooting up the blood pressure, rushing the pulse, and setting in motion sweat and pallor. May Day! May Day! The doctor is hurried in. False alarm. After physical exam, the doctor declares the ‘patient’ to be suffering from a panic attack. “Sedate him heavily and he’ll be fine.” Fear is the key. End of story. Is it?
Not for the likes of Asif Ali Zardari. “Foul, blue murder,” he shouts sitting in his gaudy Dubai palace cooling his heels. His best buddy is having a ‘heart attack’ and the government is not providing him medical help. Mr Zardari’s mouthpiece in Sindh, Qaim Ali Shah, threatens that if anything happens to Dr Asim Hussain — former petroleum minister and chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission — the government will have to pay. “I have a brain tumour,” Asim Hussain earlier tells his jailers. To parse his words, it means: ‘Set me free. I am dying. I need to flee to save my life.’
Who has the weakest heart of all? Before we zero in on Mr Zardari, it’s fair to recall that the Sharif brothers, too, can’t face the heat when thrown in the clinker. Shahbaz Sharif would suddenly become spineless (no pun intended) and big brother, our prime minister, would plead subserviently, asking to nurse his ailing wife or son, admitted to the best hospitals in London. Altaf Hussain, too, has a ‘weak’ heart and needs hospitalisation whenever the dragnet closes in. Even ‘commando’ Musharraf fares not well when out of power. Lesser mortals like Chaudhry Shujat and his ilk, too, have skunked off abroad pretending to suffer from life-threatening diseases when cornered.
But Mr Zardari tops the list of ‘sick’ jokes. Fearing his presidential immunity could be revoked, the then president dashes to Dubai with a ‘pain’ in his chest, leaving Dr Rehman Malik to cuckold us into believing his poor sick boss already has three ‘stunts’ (sic) in his heart, how many more can the man’s heart take! The first stunt Mr Zardari pulled off was when he feared for his life and needed Dr Q Soomro and Dr Asim Hussain (yes, the same man now playing the ‘sick’ joke) for a prolonged handholding hospitalisation to shield him from Nawaz Sharif’s police punk Rana Maqbool. Mr Zardari’s next stunt brought him to America. His heart had grown weak by the mental and physical sufferings endured because of Nawaz Sharif’s ‘cruelty’, we’re told. Only America could fix his broken heart. He took up permanent residence in the row of dwellings meant for billionaires at Trump Towers in Manhattan with servants, dog Maximilian and a string of friends. Life was good, it was reported.
Mr Zardari’s third stunt came when summoned to Switzerland to explain his $60 million in Swiss banks. Lo and behold, Judge Daniel Devaud received affidavits from two of New York’s leading psychiatrists, pleading their patient’s inability to travel. He had developed psychiatric illnesses — dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr Philip Saltiel blamed the torture his patient suffered during his 11 years of incarceration resulting in severe “emotional instability”, “memory loss and concentration problems”. Dr Stephen Reich added: “Mr Zardari was unable to remember the birthdays of his wife and children, was persistently apprehensive and had thoughts about suicide.”
Seventeen months later, our high commissioner to UK gave Mr Zardari a clean bill of health, citing unnamed doctors who declared him “medically fit to run for political office and free of any [nutty] symptoms”. Sprinkling hokum, the high commissioner continued, “At that time, he [Zardari] was surrounded by fear all the time.”
Fear is the key that turns everyone into sissies. What a ‘sick’ joke!
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2015.
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