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Mr Zardari has shot himself in the foot


June 19, 2015

It is sad and sickening. And that is putting it mildly. That the country's once largest political party should come to this pass is sad. That its self hoisted leader should resort to such street talk about the country's only institution that stands firm and disciplined against all odds and in the face of the worst anti-terror challenges facing Pakistan is sickening. That it should come from the party of the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the late Benazir Bhutto who stood for the country even in their worst personal adversity makes the entire episode even more sad and pathetic.
Since my superannuation from the civil service in 2008, I have avoided writing on political issues except on the histrionics of the one and only Allama Tahirul Qadri and the sense of timing of the Captain. But I could not restrain myself from writing these few lines when I heard on the TV channels Mr. Zardari's diatribe or, more appropriately, his street talk about the Pakistan Army and its chief.
A businessman friend from Karachi was my guest over lunch yesterday and he explained how billions were being minted through the Building Control Authority in that city. The raid on that office by the Rangers was the proverbial last straw after the presentation by the DG Rangers of a list of 26 people involved in mega corruption in Karachi whose proceeds were also used to raise and maintain gangs of criminals and terrorists. The treasure-trove of information that the Rangers reportedly seized during the raid would suffice to silence indeed disable many roaring politicians. Zardari's roar, he believed, was an act of desperation and a tactical offensive to ward off the potential threat to his party supremos and favourite bureaucrats in Sindh and divert media attention from what the Rangers and the army is trying to focus on in Karachi. The army rightly believes that politics cannot be separated from terrorism unless it is separated from corruption. It is, therefore, now trying to target

political corruption whose proceeds also help fund terrorism. And that is where the shoe has started pinching badly those who were enjoying a free ride on the proceeds of loot and plunder from the city of Karachi and its institutions.
Be that as it may, Zardari has shot himself in the foot. Today General Raheel Sharif is riding high on the crest of people's popularity as is the Pakistan Army. Both he and his officers and men have earned this admiration of the people through a clear policy of ridding Pakistan of terrorism at all cost and once again make this country a safe and secure land for those who live here. As they fight their way in that direction, we see them cleaning up the country's largest city, its economic engine, so our economy breathes again and breathes freely. As they fight their way in that direction, we see them challenge the corrupt of the corrupt in that city and, by extension, their patrons and real beneficiaries. By daring the Pakistan Army and its chief, Zardari has, perhaps unwittingly, dared the people of Pakistan. Also, perhaps unwittingly, he has joined those who do not rejoice at the prospect of a peaceful, progressive and progressing Pakistan.
At a time when Modi led India is on the offensive against Pakistan, when Afghanistan continues to pose a challenge and when the Pakistani Army is in a full scale war on terror laying down lives for the sake of this country, Zardari has done himself and PPP no favour by saying what he has said about the army and its generals. In my view he has shot himself in the foot, even if unwittingly.
And I pity those in the party, who are not part of the corrupt mafia in Sindh and Karachi. I particularly pity the plight of the party's leaders and workers in Punjab which was once the party's stronghold. They would be in greatest discomfort today as it is from Punjab where the army draws most of its officers and men and it is from Punjab that most of the officers and men have laid down their lives in operation Zarb-e-Azb in particular and in the fight against terrorism in general.
Zardari has surely put his party in the Punjab in a fix. They cannot defend their leader's diatribe in a province where the party has been already marginalised, thanks to the five years of its rule or misrule in Islamabad. They cannot defend him in a province whose sons have been at the forefront in laying down lives in the fight against terror. That this should happen to a party only because a small coterie of its leaders could not reign in their lust for "more" is indeed sad. That it should happen to a party whose leaders, the late General Zialul Haq could not accuse of and prosecute for corruption despite every effort after the coup of 1977 is indeed sad. How long will the party and its cadre defend the handful of its leaders whose lust for "more" knows no limit? When history will be written of Pakistan and its politics of today, those who have been dared by Zardari will stand tall and patriotic. How will history record the one who has dared? Well, I shall leave it to the readers and to the historians to judge.
The writer is a former federal secretary

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