What the President Did Not Tell
By Dr
Haider Mehdi


Those of us who have been involved academically and
diligently studying political behavior of the traditional Pakistani political
actors know quite well that what these politicians say and what they do in
actuality are altogether two different things. Rhetoric, public statements,
speeches, slogans and symbolic nationalist sentimental narratives are solely for
public consumption and for the purpose of public diplomacy.
There are always contradictions between what is
politically said by those politicians and what is meant to be achieved. Motives
are generally concealed and real intentions are camouflaged and masqueraded. It
is now an established fact that the main objective of the contemporary ruling
elite in Pakistan has always been to seek political power and use it for their
vested interests - both politically and economically.
Asif Ali Zardari
ascended to the presidency some five years ago by skilful manipulative
trajectory of the political system that was in itself the creation of a massive
culmination and coming together of vested interest entities, that of Benazir’s
quest for power and Musharraf’s lust for the continuation of his dictatorial
rule over this nation. The NRO, the foundation of this so-called democratic
regime, was the product of this mindset and the so-called project for democracy
has been a charade jointly organized by those decadent minds, who do not have
the slightest idea of what democracy is all about.
Added to this entire
impersonation of democracy has been the President’s personal talent of
“muk-muka” capabilities and skilful manipulation of the existing political
system. Indeed, the Pakistani nation has painfully and tragically experienced
five years of this sham democracy.
The latest bad news is that President
Zardari is wholeheartedly pursuing his manipulative skills to trick the nation
once again. Today’s article sheds some light on what is happening and how he is
forming his future political game plan.
Let us start with a simple yet vital
and pertinent question: why was not the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline accord
signed, let us say, four or five years ago? Would that have been contrary to
Pakistan’s national interests in some way? And why has this agreement been made
now when the tenure of this government is completed?
The PPP-led
government’s apologists will tell you that signing a gas pipeline agreement with
Tehran four years ago would have certainly invoked US economic and political
sanctions against Pakistan. Hence, it was politically justified not to irk the
US and face sanctions.
But has the American political stand on the IP gas
pipeline project changed in the last four weeks? The fact of the matter is that
the US stance on this issue has not changed one bit, neither will it change in
the foreseeable future. Then on what foreign policy considerations has the
President made the recent accord with Iran?
The rational and logical answer to this question is
simple: it is a set-up to ensure that any future government in Pakistan,
caretaker, elected or not, fails. The President is fully aware of the US and its
allies’ hostile, aggressive and non-compromising stance on the IP gas pipeline
issue, and any future government in Pakistan will have to face US sanctions
immediately leading to a major financial and political crisis.
Not only
that, it is common knowledge that the President is Washington-London’s “man” in
Islamabad. He might be calculating in foresight that once the future government
in Islamabad collapses, the President’s patrons in Washington might once again
organize his comeback to political power, or at least arrange a Bilawal
Bhutto-led PPP government to take over in the country.
The same scenario is
applicable to the Gwadar Port accord with a Chinese company. The President is
fully aware of the expected US reaction and how the agreement can and will cause
political instability in the country, most specifically in Balochistan. And
yet, he has not hesitated in going ahead with these agreements at the end of the
tenure of the government (both of these agreements should have been made four
years ago when the PPP came into power). Meaning that, it is a set-up to make
sure that any future government in Islamabad faces immediate and critical
hurdles in putting the country back on track to political and economic
“Don’t believe the hype. In reality, democracy is going into
reverse…....(in) Asia….....democratic meltdowns have become depressingly
common,” wrote K. Kurlantzick, author of the book entitled Democracy in Retreat,
in a recent article. He further states: “One of the most comprehensive studies
of global democracy, Bertelsmann Foundation’s Transformation Index, has declared
that ‘the overall quality of democracy has deteriorated’ throughout the
developing world. The index found that the number of ‘defective’ and ‘highly
defective’ democracies…....was up to 52 in 2012.”
Perhaps, Pakistan under
PPP-PML-N “muk-muka” political dispensation is at the top of the list of failing
democracies in the present-day world. Is it not ironic that after five years of
so-called democracy in this country, wholehearted support for a military
takeover is gaining popularity? In the recent aftermath of the Abbas Town
massacre in Karachi, hundreds of thousands of lamenting and chest-beating men,
women and children chanted that democracy was worthless and they wanted a
military takeover and stability above all else.
It is obvious that populist
and far-right parties, the PPP and PML-N under its traditional political
leadership with little commitment to democratic norms, gained popularity after
Musharraf’s rule. However, in the last five years, they have made a mockery of
democratic ideals.
Imagine the pre-poll rigging and other atrocious
political conduct of the ruling parties: just days ahead of the end of its
tenure, the ruling PPP in Sindh Assembly “passed several laws raising the perks
and privileges even for outgoing parliamentarians ….... effective
retrospectively from July 2001,” reported the national media.
In Islamabad,
the banks and central government offices remained open on Saturday (a day ahead
of the dissolution of the National Assembly and the PPP’s central government)
distributing perks and benefits to the government’s favorites and members of all
The media has reported the following: MNAs and MPAs had crores of
rupees backdated medical bills (mostly fake) reimbursed, unused funds meant to
be used for development work in their constituencies were released to MNAs and
MPAs in cash; in Sindh, there were scores of promotions for bureaucrats
backdated to 2009, thousands of contractual staff were made permanent, 17,000
employees were to be inducted into LESCO, and so on and so forth.
In Punjab
province, the PML-N-led government has hurriedly completed several projects at
massive public expense. Urban-rural divide and public priorities have been
ignored. Added to this is the PML-N leadership’s drive to infuse fresh life in
promoting traditional political culture and exacerbating the excesses of the
contemporary political system by adopting a strategy of “electables” to win the
forthcoming general elections. It seems that the PML-N leadership is politically
committed and content with the status quo to prevail.
This nation is being
set up for a modern authoritarian rule of the few “haves” over the majority of
impoverished “have-nots.” The sad and troubling attempt at maintaining and
perpetuating a regressive democratic system in Pakistan is not something that
someone else can fix - it is you who have to do it.
Wake up! Join with
passionate determination of those who are leading the political movement for a
fundamental change in this country. Your existence and that of future
generations is at stake. The choice is yours. The President did not tell you
this, or did he?
(The writer is a UAE-based academic, policy analyst,
conflict resolution expert and author of several books on Pakistan and foreign
policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a master’s degree from Columbia
University in New York. Email: [email protected] )