Some time ago I had written “Ayaz Amir Zardari certainly seems to be smearing himself with more manure each day and proclaiming it to be ‘perfume’” (see here). Sp it was a pleasant surprise to see his piece that reminded me of the Ayaz of old: What further trials for a sorely-tried nation? in which he took on Zardari:
President Zardari was not a secret sprung upon an unsuspecting nation. We knew all about him: that he was no graduate of any academy of higher management sciences; that his talents lay in the murkier aspects of high finance; that the only thing on his calling card which compelled attention was his marital connection to Benazir Bhutto….
But over the year or so that he has been president, Zardari has made the nation undergo a very unsentimental education, stripping the nation of any illusions it may have nursed on his account. For he has surpassed the misgivings of his worst critics and turned out to be more inept than any of them could have predicted….
Zardari was already a vulnerable figure before this debacle. Now it seems he is well and truly on the skids. For the first time in a year-and-a-half, the PPP benches in the National Assembly give a glum look, as they have every reason to do knowing that the knives are out for their Godfather — who remains a godfather in more senses than one –and vultures are circling the skies. Even Fauzia Wahab looks depressed, and that’s saying something….
Zardari may fall upon his sword himself, or circumstances otherwise may crush him, in the form of corruption cases being revived against his closest companions. That would be another matter. But being a party to any move emanating from the hidden corners of Pakistan’s political tapestry is certainly not something Nawaz Sharif appears to be for….
But there is a way out of the hole he is in. He wins himself a reprieve if he takes two steps: accelerates the process of undoing the 17th Amendment, transferring his substantive powers to the prime minister; and gets rid of that deadly circle of cronies whose presence near the helm of power is an affront to the nation. The nation may have its faults but it surely deserves better than these faces out of a rogue’s gallery. The anger of the gods will be appeased with nothing less than this double sacrifice….
I wrote to him saying:
Dear Mr Amir,
It is interesting — actually, funny — to read “What further trials for a sorely-tried nation?” because, as you say, “President Zardari was not a secret sprung upon an unsuspecting nation”. What makes it funny is that it is coming from an MNA of the party that helped make him President and even today the leader of his party says — despite what we know — he will continue to support him as President and make sure he completes his term: “Hum system ko hilana nahi chahatay” (chahay mulk ka bayra gark ho jaay). Well, with “leadership” like this, I don’t think we need any enemies.
His reply was (for a man of many words) a short one:
A fair point.
Well, I thought: Maybe Ayaz has turned a page. But was I wrong! As today we have another brilliant piece but in support of Zardari and see the ‘baygharati’ with which he takes on critics of Zardari in his piece titled “The charge of the minus-one brigade”:
A week is indeed a long time in politics. Just last week the get-Zardari campaign was in full swing. Media gladiators — now very much the media’s vanguard — and assorted weather prophets were convinced (they had certainly convinced themselves) that he had to go. Indeed, that his departure was inevitable. They only differed about the timing….
But just in a few days all this feverish speculation, some of it accompanied by near-foaming at the mouth, has suddenly died down, all because of two developments:
(1) The note of defiance struck by Zardari at a meeting of the PPP Central Executive at which he declared that no matter what his enemies said, the PPP would not succumb to pressure and would continue its “forward march”; and
(2) Nawaz Sharif’s clear affirmation, leaving nothing to doubt, that if there were any threats to the democratic system he would stand in the way….
True, they can no more abide Zardari now than they did before. But their hopes have been dashed and before the outline of things becomes clearer, perforce they have to rein in their enthusiasm….
Zardari alone would be vulnerable — was vulnerable — to the array of forces ranged against him. Much as he and his camp may hate the thought, it is Nawaz Sharif who is holding him up — not, it goes without saying, for Zardari’s person but for democracy’s sake….
One expected scenario, of course, was that the NRO would be the bomb to explode in Zardari’s face. But sensing the mood in the National Assembly — which would have erupted in revolt if there had been an attempt to force the law down its throat — the Presidency, for once, acted sensibly, choosing discretion over valour and withdrawing the bill….
In a sense, therefore, if the tabling of the NRO in the National Assembly was the high watermark of Zardari’s troubles, the decision to withdraw it — under pressure, let us not forget — may be the starting point from where the pressure on him begins to ease. We shouldn’t find this mystifying. Zardari’s fortunes had hit rock bottom. From there the only way forward was up.
But the nation won’t survive Zardari, anguished voices proclaim. [nota's note: Yes I am guilty of proclaiming that in my email!] Please, let us have done with this self-serving argument used time and again to justify coups and adventurism.
I must say I am amazed. Almost speechless to see the depths to which politicians/journalists would lower themselves. But I don’t think we are anywhere near close to the bottom.
By the way, Ayaz singing this tune is no surprise as this is the turn his pimps — the Sharif brothers — have taken. Nawaz again has not missed a chance to say he does not support the minus-one formula (despite his party’s repeated claims that this shosha was started by the presidency itself) and repeating again and again that he will make sure Zardari completes his term (the nation be damned!). Shahbaz of course has followed the same line and screamed yesterday against Zardari’s detractors: Dictators ruled for decades but civilians can’t complete tenure:
Shahbaz said the dictators ruled the country for 10 years but the vested interests were not ready to allow a democratically-elected government to complete its tenure. “Only two years have passed and there seems hullabaloo against it in the country,” he said. The chief minister said there was no reality of minus-one formula, and if the nation was united on the issue of democracy in the country, all such formulas would vanish into thin air. He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz would not become part of any plot to remove the president from his office.
Why this sudden vigor in defending Zardari? Did the presidency’s release of the Ishaq Dar’s confession of helping the Sharif Brothers launder money have anything to do with it? You bet! (And I am glad I am not the only one seeing it that way. And further proof of that is Nawaz appearing on GEO TV to cleanse his name. He did anything but. You can watch it here.)
Another interesting read is the Anjum Niaz aptly titled “Exposed!”. It begins:
Today President Zardari and the Sharif brothers stand exposed. The moment of reckoning is upon them. Proof of their allegedly stealing billions, from what rightfully belonged to the people of Pakistan, is before us in black and white. Washington and London, with the blessings of our establishment, have finally decided to let the skeletons in the politicians’ cupboards come out. The politicians tried to outsmart the military by flirting with the Kerry-Lugar Bill cleverly scripted by our ambassador in Washington. The army threw in a monkey wrench and thwarted it. Husain Haqqani has since gone into hiding while his boss in Islamabad is hunkered down in the Presidency….
Any one still surprised then at PML-N coming out to bat for Zardari?
So what Ayaz/PML-N are basically saying “Yes, we know Zardari is corrupt to the core and had it not been for us, he’d be history.” What is even more repulsive is the glee with which Ayaz states it instead of being embarrassed. There could be no bigger confession of their own guilt as being part and parcel of this current setup.
Who’s ‘Perverse’ Now, Ayaz Amir?
Musharraf’s Ghost: PML-N Gets in Bed with PPP/MQM
Ayaz Amir Zardari – Apologist for Thieves
How Low Can Ayaz Amir Go?
The Death Wish of Pakistan’s Journo Class