Tag Archive for 'Asif Zardari'

Mad and bad

In The IndependentJemima Khan reacts to Asif Ali Zardari’s election as Pakistan’s new president, calling him both mad and bad. Dogged by allegations of crime and corruption he could lose power to the army if the people get restive, she warns.

Asif Ali Zardari flanked by his daughters, Bakhtawar and Asifa

Asif Ali Zardari flanked by his daughters, Bakhtawar and Asifa

President Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto’s widower, formerly known as Mr Ten Per Cent because of kickbacks received during his wife’s time in office, has become one of the most powerful and potentially dangerous men in the subcontinent. Mad and bad. And now omnipotent. He is head of state, supreme commander of the armed forces, has the power to dismiss parliament, appoint the heads of the army and election commission – and, as chairman of the National Command Authority, has the final say in the deployment of nuclear weapons.

Earlier Zardari vowed to relinquish the executive powers that Pervez Musharraf gave to the originally ceremonial presidency. Now he’s evasive. Despite the fact that he has little public support (14 per cent, according to a recent poll), holds no seat in parliament and has no mandate other than his association with the Bhutto name, he had every right to nominate himself or anyone else as President. His party – inherited from his late wife – was democratically elected in February and has the largest number of seats in parliament.


The godfather as president

Zardari is the worst possible choice for Pakistan. Tariq Ali in The Guardian:

Today, he is the second richest person in the country, with estates and bank accounts littered on many continents, including a mansion in Surrey worth several million. Many of Benazir’s inner circle, sidelined by the new boss (Zardari did rub their noses in excrement by having his apolitical sister elected from Larkana, hitherto a pocket borough of the Bhutto family) actively hate him. Benazir’s uncle, Mumtaz Bhutto (head of the clan) has sharply denounced him. Some even encourage the grotesque view that he was in some way responsible for her death. This is foolish. He is only trying to fulfill her legacy. He was certainly charged with ordering the murder of his brother-in-law, Murtaza Bhutto, when Benazir was prime minister, but the case was never tried. Characteristically, one of Zardari’s first acts after his party’s victory in the February polls was to appoint Shoaib Suddle, the senior police officer connected to the Murtaza Bhutto ambush and killing, as the boss of the Federal Intelligence Agency. Loyalty is always repaid in full.


Family feud: The battle for Bhutto’s legacy

Asif Zardari may have emerged as winner but Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa are pitched against cousins Fatima, Zulfikar Junior and Sassui. The saga will continue, says Anjum Niaz in Dawn:

Mumtaz Ali Bhutto

Mumtaz Ali Bhutto

There is a background to Mumtaz Bhutto’s fiery dissent. He was a founding member of the PPP. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made him famous in his 1971 maiden address to the nation on PTV by calling him his “talented cousin” who had gone to Oxford. He appointed him the governor and later the chief minister of Sindh. Come 1984 and the daughter of ZAB (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) sacks him.

“She felt threatened,” says Mumtaz. “Benazir was power hungry and willing to make alliances with her father’s murderers, opportunists and hypocrites. When I objected, she told me to leave the party.”

During his 18 month exile in London, Mumtaz set up the Sindh Baloch and Pashtun Front. “We had a one point agenda – to set up a confederation according to the Pakistan Resolution.” Sadly the Front fizzled out and Benazir returned to Pakistan as a heroine.


Pakistan waits as Bhutto clan trade blows

Benazir’s husband hopes to become President next weekend, but he faces bitter opposition from within the family. Omar Waraich from Islamabad in The Independent:

Asif Ali Zardari is poised to become President of Pakistan next weekend after inheriting the political mantle of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated last December. But he faces bitter opposition from within the country’s pre-eminent political dynasty.

Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, Benazir’s great-uncle and head of the Bhutto clan, told The Independent on Sunday last week that the prospect of Mr Zardari becoming President was the latest in a series of tragedies to afflict the family – and Pakistan. “It’s unfortunate for the country, and … for the party that a man of his background should become … President,” he said. “He is totally corrupt and utterly illiterate … If he becomes the next President, what will be left of this country?”


After the honeymoon

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is pulling his party out of the new government. The BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad looks at why, and what happens next.

The Pakistan Muslim League-N decision to quit the cabinet has been on the cards for a while.

So when the party’s nine ministers handed in their resignations on Tuesday it did not come as a surprise. The biggest party in the cabinet is the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Its leader is Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto. Since the PPP and the PML-N trounced President Pervez Musharraf’s allies in February’s general elections, Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif have appeared to enjoy an excellent relationship.

And Tuesday’s cabinet split may not be as dramatic as it appears.


Meet the new Asif Zardari

Karan Thapar on a personal encounter in the Hindustan Times

Most people, I believe, grow to fill the responsibility placed on them. Promotions are, therefore, an act of faith. But that said and done I’m flabbergasted by the change in Asif Zardari. He’s literally become a different person.

The Asif I remember was a jovial tease, informal, chatty, fond of the good life and determined not to be boring or even serious. We first meet the night after his wedding. “Benazir’s told me all about you,” he said with mock gravity. “I’m on my best behaviour!” He then spent the evening pulling my leg and, frequently, his wife’s too. Let’s put Kashmir aside for a wiser generation to sort out, he said. Let’s not be hostage to the UN resolutions, Zardari added.

Weeks after Benazir first became prime minister we were together on her special flight from Islamabad to Karachi. It was an aged propeller plane which flew at a sedate speed. Sitting in the prime ministerial drawing room at the front, Asif looked at his watch. We’d been travelling for nearly two hours. “If you’d stuck to PIA not only would you have arrived but you’d be in the hotel pool by now!” I protested I wasn’t in a hurry. “Yeah? Let’s see if you return with us!” I didn’t.


No country for old men

Anjum Niaz in Dawn, Karachi, on the Zardari makeover:

zardari.jpg zardari2.jpg

Forgive me Coen brothers for borrowing the title of your film that fetched four Oscars last Sunday. This column is not about Academy Awards, but the vanity of man. It’s about the makeover of men who can’t make up their minds whether to let their hair and moustaches look grey, white or black.

If they were ordinary people, they would not have cared. But they are our stellar material, who hit the mini-screen day and night and are in-and-out of our living rooms. Put under the glaring lights of cameras, these guys come across as a confused bunch when it comes to personal grooming. They, I’m sure, have enough money to pay super image-makers and pricey consultants to advise them on what colour conforms to the needs of the time.

This VVIP hair-colour-confusion is a tale as old as the hills. In America, a wrinkled Ronald Reagan showed off his boot polish black puff until the last day in office at the White House. Even though the aging president had begun to show signs of Alzheimer’s and quite easily forgot names of dignitaries, once addressing Prince Charles as Princess of Wales at a glittering gala, his unmistakable Hollywood-style hairdo never floundered. It seemed stuck to his head like glue.


Bhutto ghost dominates Pakistan election

In The Guardian, UK, Decian Walsh reports from Faisalabad:

Shielded behind bulletproof glass and surrounded by armed police, the Pakistani opposition leader Asif Zardari told supporters yesterday that his assassinated wife, Benazir Bhutto, had come to him in a dream.

“She said ‘I am with you, and I am with the people,’” he said, drawing a roar of approval from the crowd at his party’s last rally before next Monday’s tensely anticipated general election.


As election nears, Pakistanis fan out to combat vote rigging

Peter Wonacott reports from Rawalpindi in The Wall Street Journal:

Tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians have signed up as election monitors, fostering hope that Monday’s national vote will end a history of rigged elections and restore stability to this jittery, nuclear-armed nation.

Ambreen Saba Khan is one of them. The 27-year-old teacher has been patrolling this army garrison town outside Islamabad with a notepad and camera phone, meeting with politicians and local officials. She’s looking for signs of vote rigging, such as politicians promising money, jobs or gifts for votes.