President Zardari’s comeback

President Asif Ali Zardari said that his “enemies will be disappointed” because he is recovering and will soon return to Pakistan. Mr Zardari told an anchorperson that those who run away do so with their families but he left his son in Pakistan. It is good to know that the president is feeling better now and we wish him a speedy recovery. This has also put to rest all those rumours, speculations and motivated agendas, the authors of which were frothing at the mouth about the president’s well-being and purported ‘developments’ in the offing. While such rumour-mongering must be condemned, it would be advisable for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to learn a lesson from this furore. When the president flew out to Dubai, we saw contradictory statements coming from the presidential spokesman and other government and party officials. It would have been better if an authoritative official statement had been issued to scotch any rumours and speculations. In this day and age of the media revolution, when even social networking sites can lead to further fog and confusion, it is advisable for all political parties, especially the ruling party, to appoint one spokesperson who would inform the public well in time of any new developments. The irresponsibility of the media and populace aside, the government should also take some responsibility in this regard and not mishandle any such situation in future.

On the other hand, President Zardari’s announcement that he will be back soon has blackened the faces of all those scandal-mongers who were looking forward to ousting the president and the government one way or the other. Ever since the PPP-led government took office after the 2008 elections, it has faced adverse reactions from many quarters, including the media. Every other day we heard analysts giving a timeframe for when this government would fall. Nevertheless, it has survived to date and looks likely to complete its tenure. Those who wanted a military-judicial alliance to turf out the government are also in for disappointment as Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chaudhry reiterated that there are limits for every institution as per the constitution and all institutions should stay within their parameters so that the country can progress. CJ Chaudhry observed that our nation can achieve political stability, economic development and prosper if we adhere to the dictates of the constitution. The Opposition is also not in the mood to derail democracy. This is substantiated by Mian Nawaz Sharif’s politically mature statements. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) may have gone to the Supreme Court with its Memogate petition but this move cannot be taken as an outright demand to oust the government. Their lordships and the Opposition are not willing to derail democracy. And why should they? Any move leading to the destruction of the democratic process will in effect be as damaging to the opposition parties and the independence of the judiciary as it would the incumbents. It was only wishful thinking on the part of Zardari-haters that the judiciary and the PPP’s rival political parties, especially the PML-N, would help the undemocratic forces.

Pakistan is no stranger to military interventions, be they direct or indirect. More than three decades have been spent under direct military rule and the other three decades have been spent with the military meddling in political affairs. Now that a democratic dispensation is in place after almost a decade of military dictatorship, it should be given a chance to complete its tenure. Impatience is not the answer; the ballot box is.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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