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Mr. Zardari politics of reconciliation by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

Today Hamid Mir of Capital Talk interviewed former President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. Mr. Zardari with Hamid Mir of Geo to view the interview.

In the interview President Zardari stated that during his tenure there were no political prisoners. I don’t know what he means by that. Does he support criminalization of politics? Is it wrong to apprehend a politician that engages in corruption or criminal activity? Is he aware about news that criminal elements are present in PPP?

I always appreciated the foreign policy efforts of President Zardari to improve relations with our neighbors especially Iran and China. But like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Mr. Zardari failed in domestic politics. His politics of reconciliation are actually a systemic process of abuse of public office without being caught or have any fear of being caught. Few days ago famous op-ed writer Irfan Hussain wrote in DAWN that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was very angry when she learned about purchase of Surrey Palace. Now Mr. Zardari has got another brand new palace in Lahore that is considered one of the most expensive house in Pakistan. Another newspaper Pakistan Today reported last week that four sugar mills of Mr. Anwar Majeed were granted Rs. 1.5 billion out of a total budget of Rs. 2 billion from Annual Development Plan (ADP) of Sindh. This fund was supposed to provide support to small business owners and farmers but instead 75% of the fund was spent to facilitate just one person. Mr. Anwar Majeed is the assistant and confidant of Mr. Zardari. I would like to know what Mr. Zardari did about it and did he ask his assistant how he got these funds allocated to him.

Mr. Zardari takes credit for introduction of 18th amendment which granted certain degree of autonomy to provinces. But it is the same 18th amendment that gave sweeping powers to party heads so that they can manipulate their members of parliament. During the drafting of the amendment newspapers reported that head of the committee Senator Raza Rabbani maintained close liaison with Mr. Zardari who was incumbent president at that time. Senator Rabbani recently cried in the parliament for his inability to act based on his conscience. He will cry for many more years for granting extraordinary powers to party chiefs.

Using tools like 18th amendment, Mr. Zardari provid tutelage to politicians in the art of political exploitation which has now become a national issue and has given rise to new levels of corruption. To reap these benefits now all political parties, including PTI, are controlled by status quo. This political elite play games of gladiator with each other. But it is not them that are fighting in the arena. They sit in the galleries while their party activists bloody each other in the arena for the amusement of their party masters who cheer for them from the comfort of their chairs. It does not matter how many poor souls die in these games. All that matters is that the games are controlled by the party chiefs.

I don’t know why Hamid Mir decided to go soft on Mr. Zardari and did not ask him tough questions. But Mr. Mir should know that the democratic system in Pakistan cannot stabilize and deliver to people until people land on top of our heads through the parachute of military rulers, by the accident of birth or back door of a wedding hall. Political leadership has to evolve from the grass roots which is only possible when parties become institutions. PTI grass roots activists are now teaching activists of other parties how to hold their leaders accountable. The voices are rising in PPP jalsas and they will keep growing.

As member of PTI it is not my concern whether PPP remains a family enterprise or not. Actually I am happy that Mr. Zardari is heading PPP because the damage he can do to the party no one else is capable to achieve. Status quo is dying in Pakistan and with it characters like Mr. Zardari who will go to dust bin of history as a bad dream. A new dawn is upon us inshallah and awakening of people that will demand accountability, transparency and delivery from their leaders.

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