Asif Ali Zardari: an anecdote of glory – by Maleeha Manzoor


Some people have such a persona that amazes you every time you are acquainted with them – persona that captivates all the admiration for its varying aspects. Asif Ali Zardari is one of those people who have amazed the world with their brilliance from time to time.
Fumblingly moving towards democracy, Pakistan untimely got deprived of the leader who could get it out of the state of oblivion. However, as out of every crisis emerges a leader, it was the time when first spark of leadership was discerned in Asif Ali Zardari as he chanted ‘Pakistan Khappay’ (We want Pakistan). He amazed everyone by not opting for the most powerful position, the premiership, rather the presidency so that no other force could weaken the institutions and no Farooq Leghari appears to derail democracy. Having the distinction to be the only civilian president to complete the term, he ensured the first ever smooth democratic transition of power while ruling over the Presidency that invariably used to pass orders for dissolution of assemblies. But for ensuring this smooth transition, his journey as the President was never smooth.
Many years old false allegations charged on him, that could never be proven right, were yet again brought into prominence to halt him from running the public office. The champion of democracy Nawaz Sharif who is now afraid of the expected long march in August, held a long march to pressurize Zardari over PCO judges despite the democracy being nascent to afford any latest crisis. Moreover, Memo scandal, Abottabad operation, Raymond Davis issue, Iran-Pak gas pipeline, all these being the major external challenges with thousands of onerous other challenges like terrorism, extremism, political rivalry, unstable economy, natural disasters challenged him to run a state and nurture the very democracy. For the democratic process to flourish, he made hard compromises but not his fault if his farsightedness made him opt for some unfavorable policies in order to gain long term convenient results – which ensued in today’s democratic Pakistan with its constitution in its real form.
With policy of reconciliation, tolerance, political adroitness, he changed the whole political dynamics of the country. History would record his name in golden chapters changing the primitive politics of vengeance into politics of forbearance. Notwithstanding his wondrous achievements as the President,as he moved on despite all odds losing one of his Prime Ministers, never did criticism for the sake of criticism stop. His role as the chairperson of PPP is lambasted even more. But, to denounce their gross distortion of truth, critics need to be reminded of history to envisage party’s future.
When Benazir Bhutto was martyred, the very next minute ears buzzed with ‘Pakistan Peoples Party is over’ – that PPP would cease to exist the same way and will rive apart into different factions like Muslim League did due to internal clashes. As PPP continued to eke out an existence, the credit goes to Asif Zardari, who held the whole party together, as much as it goes to Bibi – for binding these branches of the tree called Bhuttoism with such wisdom that they could not be weaken and fell apart even after the foes attempted to cut its very roots by assassinating Bhutto’s daughter.
Criticizing Zardari has been so trendy throughout that not a single stone is left unturned to denounce the current PPP and term the party led by Asif Zardari as completely different one from Bibi’s.
To the critics who believe a political party fades away from the political realm of a country after it loses the elections, history itself is the answer making their claims invalid. In 1997 general elections, Pakistan Peoples Party, under Bibi’s leadership, could sit on opposition benches with 17 seats only. Did not the party revive and claim back the lost charm? It did. The same PPP won the 2002 general elections – it was not allowed to form the government though! Not even in Sindh. First Ali Mohammad Mahar and then Arbab Ghulam Rahim was appointed as the Chief Minister of Sindh. Nonetheless, at that time, many members left PPP – yet it did not split. For not a few individuals, but the ideology and its true believers run a party of masses.
History also chronicles in its darkest chapters how Zia tried to pulverize PPP. All state power was used to eliminate it. But he failed. Must critics understand that society, political organizations and movements never go in straight line – rather move with ebbs and flows. Not the ideological, but establishment oriented parties always fade away. From Sindh, Balochistan to Seraiki belt, nationalist parties do exist and play a role in fueling political agitation, but those formed by establishment like Qayoom League, Convention League, Junejo League have no future. Now where is the so-called ‘patriots’ group that once claimed PPP’s downfall? It vanished away but Peoples Party survives.
Whether in power or not – the split of PPP is nothing but a wishful thinking of that very mindset which killed PPP leaders when Pakistan needed them the most. Till the day, Zardari’s performance in handling party affairs has been astounding. By losing a wife he lost the dearest one he had but he grasped what was the dearest to her – her PPP; her people. His brilliance is what makes him Zardari. One cannot hate him for he did all that a real champ of democracy could. And 2018 is not far when under his leadership, PPP will once again claim back its charm, prove the detractors wrong and yet again amaze the world.

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