Zardari – Another Perspective

The confessions of Brig Imtiaz have forced other intelligence officers to admit their role in destroying democracy in Pakistan, and establishing that Zardari’s name has been trashed for about 20 years to force Benazir Bhutto out of politics and to destroy the credibility of Pakistan People’s Party, writes Bilal Qureshi in his article Asif Ali Zardari – President of Pakistan, posted at the blog he edits Pakistan Foreign Policy.

“In the light of stunning revelations by Brig Imtiaz as to how the army was dead against handing over power to Benazir, especially the reins of foreign policy towards Afghanistan, India and the nuclear program, it is clear that the army tasked Brig Imtiaz and other officers to come up with a long term scheme that would seriously deflate Benazir’s desire for a moderate, educated and non-hysterical Pakistan.”

Qureshi says he is not a Zardari supporter but saw Zardari as a leader when he refused to compromise with those who wanted him to sign a confession and leave the country, like Nawaz Sharif and his family did after reaching a deal with Musharraf.

“The defining moment was Zardari’s decision to stop those who were shouting anti Pakistan and anti Punjab slogans after Benazir’s body was flown to Sindh for burial. Everyone was crying, the emotions were high, but Zardari stepped forward and directly confronted people from his own province, Sindh and snubbed those who were blaming Punjabi elements in establishment for Benazir’s death. Zardair’s courageous decision to confront those angry workers told me, and millions of other skeptics that Zardari is a man of courage and conviction.”

However, the relentless attacks on Zardari destroyed his credibility and damaged the Bhutto brand in Pakistan’s politics. Benazir Bhutto had to move to Dubai to rear her children because her own country, Pakistan was made extremely unsafe for her. Asif Zardari ended up serving little under12 years in prison on various charges, of which not a single charge was proved in any court of law, writes Qureshi.

Zardari’s decision to take on the Taliban and other terrorists across Pakistan has further enraged right wing politicians, as well as former and current intelligence officers. “Just listen to any television program in Pakistan and you will find people declaring Zardari as America’s agent and working on American agenda… because apparently, working for peace, prosperity, promoting education, attracting foreign investment, solving Pakistan energy and water crisis is somehow American agenda.”

This is how Qureshi sums up Zardari’s achievements:

“For the first time in the history of Pakistan, not even a single dime changed hands during recent Senate elections because Zardari moved in such a way that all parties got their share and there was no need to bribe people to buy their votes.”

“Zardari has also traveled the globe to attract investment and to ensure that Pakistani goods have access to every possible market in the world, but this too is not mentioned. Finally, Zardari is the only high ranking government official who took people with him to Saudi Arabia to perform Umra and paid for their boarding and lodging from his own pocket – first time in Pakistan’s history, but this too is never mentioned, nor is Zardari given credit for this.”

Full text at http://pakistan.foreignpolicyblogs.com/

When Zardari was released from prison, I along with two other journalists met him at Bilawal House. Here is how the piece starts that I wrote then, published in The News – “Corruption,” pronounces Asif Ali Zardari, “is a state of mind. A corrupt person wouldn’t have taken on the establishment, wouldn’t have sacrificed eight years of his life in prison. I could have accepted a deal and got out, and kept them happy — that’s what would have benefited me most.”

Full text at – The Unbearable Lightness of Being Asif Zardari

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