Tagged with " Asif Ali Zardari"
Jan 27, 2012 - Shahbaz Sharif    2 Comments

The buffoonery of Shahbaz Sharif

The buffoonery of PML-N leadership is well documented in Pakistani media but the Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s interview last night with Javed Chaudhry was so gallactically stupid, it makes one want to cry – literally. 
A few gems from this epic interview are:
“All conspiracies against Punjab government and corruption schemes are designed in the President House.”
 If the staff at President House managed to find some time off from fighting one case after another from a very partisan judiciary, they would’ve loved to hatch a scheme or two against Chotay Mian Sahib. Sadly they are busy fighting battles for the survival and finishing the term. Mian sahib should look closer to home if he wants to pin the blame – his own government.
“President Asif Ali Zardari is the responsible for everything that ails the country.”
Seriously? Is that your argument? Is that how you are gonna win next elections? By pinning the blame on a man who willingly gave up his presidential authorities to the parliament? Of course Asif Ali Zardari – the co chair of PPP – has control over the party and the government but you cannot blame his office for it.  

“CNG shortage is artificially created by the federal government to sabotage the public transport system introduced by PML-N’s government in Punjab.”
Gas is an exhaustible natural resource, and you would do well to remember that. No government, no matter how suicidal it is, would want to face public’s wrath during election years by making basic utilities unavailable – even if it is trying to make Chotay Mian sahab’s life miserable. 
“I don’t consider this person [Asif Zardari] the president of Pakistan.”
Errr …. All legislative bodies including the one you lead unanimously elected that person as your president. You may hate his guts but you can’t deny the fact that he indeed is the democratically elected president of the country. What makes it more ironic is that this statement was issued the same day when PML-N offers conditional support to the President.
“I am willing to take responsibility for the security of Mansoor Ijaz.”
I am so glad that Rehman Malik plans on filing a request for a ‘contempt of court’ notice against the chief minister.

Because jumping the ship is en vogue

In an innovative move yesterday, PPP co-chair and President of Pakistan Mr Asif Ali Zardari announced that he is switching parties and has now joined Mr Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf.

While the general public is baffled and speculators are speculating about the probable reasons behind this unprecedented move – no party chair has ever voluntarily vacated his position and decided to move to another party as a junior member – this scribe managed a few precious quotes from the erstwhile PPP co-chair, who at the time of the interview was vacationing in Scotland with his children.

When President Zardari was told that his move to PTI is being viewed with suspicion, he was astounded. “I don’t know why there is such a brouhaha over my membership in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, it is but natural that Imran and I should come together. We have so much in common we could practically be BFFs, like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.” When asked to elaborate, he pointed out that both he and Khan had lived it up in their youth, unlike some other politicians who spent their younger days politicking and working on their public personas. “We are two single dudes whose children live away from home; we get lonely in the evenings and can now keep each other company, watch Capital Talk together and mock Hamid Mir’s hair, mustache and sartorial choices. Besides, both of us were astute enough to marry way above our station.”

When asked about the future of Pakistan People’s Party, Mr Zardari said that the party was left to Bilawal by his mother; Mr Zardari himself was just the caretaker waiting for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to grow up and take over the reins. “Now that Bilawal and Aseefa are all grown up and geared to go, I have to step aside and let them take the lead, that’s what any good father would do,” said the president.

PTI chairman Imran Khan, also vacationing in the United Kingdom with his children, welcomed Mr. Zardari’s move to his party and said that Mr Zardari’s modesty is the perfect foil for his posturing. “I can point fingers and accuse every one of all kinds of misdeeds,” said Mr Khan, “and Mr. Zardari will go and placate everyone afterwards.” When asked whether or not Zardari’s inclusion in his party goes against the PTI rhetoric – such as the stance against hereditary politics – Khan said that no member of Zardari’s clan has ever been part of PTI; Zardari is the first person to have joined the party. “As his children hold key positions in a rival party, chances of them jumping in are slim,” Imran Khan added.

While both the leaders appear to be at peace with each other, naysayers are pointing out that Mr. Zardari had no intention of joining PTI, but a recent attack by NATO forces on Bilawal House made him change his mind. He would have let it go as collateral damage in the Global War Against Terror, but he changed his mind when he found out that Secretary Clinton had denied any knowledge of the existence of either Bilawal Bhutto Zardari or Bilawal House.

While Imran Khan seems happy with the stag-party-in-progress, another former jiyala (who was also a member of General Zia’s Majlis-e-Shura) does not seem too happy with the development. Shah Mehmood Qureshi thought he would be the only jiyala to cross over party lines and believes Mr Zardari will spoil his camaraderie with Mr. Khan.

“I thought it would be a party of good-looking men only,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi said. “Granted that Mr Zardari’s new teeth have made his smile the brightest one in Pakistan, but he still has to catch up with me when it comes to being called a good-looking man.” When it was pointed out to the former foreign minister that his party is not limited to good looking men – it has Shireen Mizari in a senior position – he declined to comment. Sources close to Mr. Qureshi later said that he was shocked when he found out that Shireen Mizari was not a good looking man.

First published in The Friday Times  

PS: Before anyone lynches me, let me point out that it is a spoof and Mr. President is still very much a jiyala.

Dr Babar Awan – What’s not to like?

The twittervesre is outraged at Dr Babar Awan, not because he had one of his usual bouts of tweeting with caps lock on, but because he was awarded the post of Vice President of Pakistan People’s Party. I can’t understand the animosity his appointment has garnered. Not only is he an educated man, he is also an astute lawyer, a good orator, a TV presenter par excellence, a  writer and man who speaks the language of our masters (no silly, everyone speaks English, he is fluent in Arabic). Seriously; what’s not to like? 

One can be a little perturbed at this development because how can a political party have a vice president when it does not have a president – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Daddy Zardari share the chairmanship of the party – but this much anger on an appointment is a little misplaced. 

The appointment of the good doctor is quite befitting; after all, who else could have matched his towering personality and his innumerable accomplishments. The cynics think that party has other stalwarts who could have been better suited for the job, but no one comes even close. Named after the Mughal king, Zaheer-ud-din Babar, the new Vice President is a man amongst men. Aitezaz Ahsan and Sherry Rehman may have written an odd book or two about Indus River and Kashmiri shawls, but the esteemed barrister has authored several books. It is besides the point that no one seems to know the titles of the books and what those books are about. Unfortunately, a hurried Google search about his penmanship yielded no conclusive results. 

Rehman Malik may have been awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Karachi University, but Dr Babar Awan is heads and shoulders above his fellow party man. He does not wait for local universities to confer doctorates upon him; he invents a university as delicately named as Monticello – which perhaps reminds one of a high end spaghetti sauce or Thomas Jefferson – and bestow a doctorate upon himself.

Dr Babar Awan is also not a serial party hopper like some other dudes whose final destination seems to be PTI these days. He only jumped the ship once and has been with Pakistan People’s Party since 1990s. Wikipedia reports that his brother is part of a Mutahidda Qaumi Movement in Punjab but that is only to spread brotherhood and good cheer. I don’t see him joining Altaf Bhai any time soon.

Not just politicians, Dr Babar Awan can give TV personalities like Amir Liaquat and Sahir Lodhi a run for money. Unlike Amir Liaquat who carries the show on the basis of sheer verbosity and Sahir Lodhi who only moonlights as a religious presenter in Ramazan and is known more for his dance moves and questionable wardrobe, Dr Awan is a genuine bona fide religious scholar who used to present a show on religious laws on a local tv channel. The ratings of his show were however not available to be compared with the other two gentlemen.

What the naysayers do not get is that vice president ship of a party is a very significant post and cannot be given to just anyone. The reason this important post was given to Dr Babar Awan is that if there ever was a declamation or an oration  contest between vice chairmen and presidents of Pakistani political parties, Pakistan people’s party would not want to lose it to its erstwhile member and the new, asli tay vada and very senior vice chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. 

A slightly edited version was first published in The Express Tribune 

Things we learned from the Wikileaks Pakistan cables

Most people do not know that the Baboons living in South Africa barter their food. They exchange a banana for a bag of crisps they steal from an unsuspecting tourist. Just like those baboons, Pakistan’s rent seeking elite barters power and privilege. Unlike baboons, who barter among themselves, our political elite barters with an alien foreign force and when they are not bartering with that alien foreign force they want it to play the guarantor; at least that is what latest Wikileaks Pakistan Papers tell us.
While the newspaper reading drawing room analyst types (that’s almost all of us) already knew or suspected whatever goes in the corridors of power, we learned a few new things from the cables. Take this particular cable from 2009 for example, US considers PML (Q) to be the asli tay vadi PML because they have been referred to as plain and simple PML – with no ABCD affixed to it. PML-N, on the other hand, was referred to as such which must have rankled Khadim-e-Ala Punjab a lot. If the pattern of his belligerence is consistent, he must be reciting Habib Jalib’s Main Naheen Manta in his Raiwind mansion since the cables came out.
Some people are drawn to adventure and some are destined to play with fire. In Pakistan,  anyone who takes over the president’s office is predestined to become obsessed with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry or so says wikileaks.
If Pakistani political circles were an American high school, then CJ Iftekhar Chaudhry would have been the fat geeky nerd who would not be touched with a barge pole and all cool kids would stay away from him. US Ambassador Anne Patterson very clearly stated that “no leader in Pakistan really wants an activist and unpredictable Chief Justice.” Poor CJ, if he had to attend a prom, no one would have agreed to go out with him.
The cables also reiterated what we already knew – that PML-Q (yes, I continue to use this moniker because I am not a US diplomat) is the biggest mercenary of them all and would switch sides for a provincial chief minister ship, a senate chairmanship or to get the party leader’s son (as it eventually happened) out of trouble.
Anyone who thought that MQM is a small time party interested only in naddi nalay ki siasat (read elected local government bodies) had another think coming, Amreekis do consult them in matters of governments and coalitions. Apparently Altaf Bhai is as thick with the US envoys as the rest of them and wanted to know which way Ms. Patterson and her bosses move before coming out to support the presidential throne.
What we also learned from the cables is that no matter how many speeches Farooq Sattar would give in the parliament and take part in legislative processes, he would always be called the “in country” leader of MQM and not just the leader. We also learned that stormy relationship of MQM and PML-N is as apparent to the Americans as it is obvious to us.
The cables, sent out by the US embassy in Pakistan, lamented the fact that the US had no leverage over Mian Nawaz Shareef. If only they knew about a certain Ms. Kim Barker and her influence over Mian sahib, things would have been much easier for them. All they needed to do was to convince Ms Barker to accept that iPhone and viola, things could have been different.  
We also learned that General Kayani is as adventurous towards Afghanistan as his predecessors and wanted “tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) to cover wide regions such as the whole of Afghanistan and Pakistan through remotely stationed operations rooms.” Seriously, Kayani sahib is not really a mean guy, he just wants to play Battlefield or Mortal Kombat through UAVs across Afghanistan and Pakistan. So what if it costs us peace in the region, the big boys would get to play the ultimate game.
PS: The cables were classified by Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)or reasons 2.8 (c). I would seriously like to know what those reasons were. 
Originally written for Dawn.com 
Apr 5, 2010 - Uncategorized    8 Comments

Double jeopardy anyone?

For a president who is willing to surrender his powers inherited from his predecessors – civil and military – who used them ruthlessly, Asif Ali Zardari is not getting his due share of appreciation. Between the Chief Justice who is asking the Swiss courts to reopen the cases and meeting leading witnesses on the side and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), it is quite obvious that they are making sure that it remains that way.

Last week when the everyman and his dog was heaping scorn on Nawaz Shareef’s U-turn on 18th amendment bill, Chief Justice very conveniently took a suo motu notice on non implementation of December 16,2009 verdict declaring the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) null and void and asked the NAB to implement the NRO ruling in letter and spirit in – get this – 24 hours.

This week, NAB apparently has decided to reopen cases against politicians, including those disposed of recently by accountability courts. Now I am not defending anyone who is corrupt and all but can it be done legally? As far as my limited knowledge of law goes, no person can be tried for committing the same crime twice, even if they happen to be Salman Farooqui!