Don’t Call It A Comeback Today’s Dawn asks, “A comeback?” about President Zardari and the rumours swirling for months about possible attempts to either remove the President or force his resignation. Despite the doom-and-gloom scenarios predicted almost daily by his detractors, Zardari remains in office and it looks like he will serve the term to which he was elected. Is this really a ‘comeback’, though? Actually, I think perhaps what we’re seeing are the first signs of stability in our nation.
The American newspaper Miami Herald published an article by Saeed Shah that says,
Pakistan’s U.S.-backed president, Asif Ali Zardari, appears to have survived a campaign to oust him, a storm that had threatened to sidetrack the country from its battle with Islamic extremists.
Although there were predictions in the last few months of 2009 that he was finished, Zardari has defended himself aggressively in recent days and won some political allies. The news media and the judiciary had appeared to be closing in on him, but in a world of political shadow boxing, many analysts and politicians think that Pakistan’s powerful military has been behind the drive to force the president out of office.
“I think he is fighting back admirably,” said Abida Hussain, a senior member of Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party. “He threw down the gauntlet, fair and square, and the conspirators, if any, seem to be backing off.”
The confrontation had sparked fears that the army, which has ruled Pakistan for most of its existence, would intervene again, perhaps to force fresh elections when the country is under pressure from the Obama administration to launch an offensive in North Waziristan, a vital Pakistani refuge for al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Many of us have felt that democracy was teetering on the brink of instability. But was this feeling of instability based in reality?
Let us remember that the Army very clearly stated that they were not planning any coup. In fact, President Zardari and Gen. Kayani have been working closely on matters of national security. Certainly there may have been some tensions between the two men, but this is not uncommon for any nation or any government. Both have their responsibilities, and sometimes there will be disagreements between powerful men. But the fact remains that each leader continues to work together, despite the dire predictions to the contrary.
Even this week Nawaz Sharif has issued support for the PPP govenrment. This is obviously not because Nawaz is considering closing down his PML-N, but because he understands that a healthy democracy must first and foremost be able to rely on stability.
“Pakistan today is facing several challenges. Terrorism, poverty, unemployment, price hike and loadshedding are major issues inherited from eight years of dictatorship,” he said, adding that the problems could have been solved if mandate of all political parties was respected.
“The country can progress only if it is run on democratic lines. The Charter of Democracy should be implemented, the 17th Amendment done away with and parliamentary democracy should be taken forward.”
The PML-N chief urged all political parties to work jointly to steer the country out of the present crisis. Criticism should not be for the sake of criticism but for constructive purposes, he said.
“If we sit together like we are sitting here today this should be meaningful. In many countries leaders of different parties sit together and consult each other on important issues,” he added.
In reply to a question, he said: “We will have to work jointly to stop conspiracies.”
The NWFP assembly adopted a resolution on Tuesday reposing confidence in the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari and his policies and called upon various state organs to avoid interfering in each other’s domains.
The assembly praised the role played by the president in the announcement of the unanimous agreement on the NFC award, acceptance of NWFP’s demand on net hydel profit and introduction of Nizam-i-Adl in Malakand.
The resolution was passed by a majority with 76 members voting in favour and four members belonging to the PML-Q, PML-N and PPP-S against it. The JUI-F members left the house when Speaker Kiramatullah Chagharmatti put the resolution to vote.
The resolution was jointly moved by PPP’s parliamentary leader Abdul Akbar Khan and ANP’s parliamentary leader and Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour.
The resolution said: “The legislators in this assembly respect all the democratic and constitutional institutions in the country. They deem that all institutions should work within their parameters and avoid meddling in the domain of each other”.
“Whereas the office of the president is constitutional,” the resolution said, “its respect and sanctity is binding on all institutions and masses.
“We the lawmakers resolve that we are united under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari and have full confidence in him as President of Pakistan. We assure Mr Zardari that we would stand by him for the sake of democracy,” the resolution said.
There is a growing trend that promises great hope for the future of Pakistan. Leaders even of opposing political parties have faced a crisis of stability and have joined together to protect and defend the democratic process. This is a great testimony to the soundness of our leaders and shows the maturity of our governmental system.
Additionally, this unity across political parties to defend the democratic process will help strengthen our democracy. President Zardari has stated before his intention to revoke the 17th amendment and implement the Charter of Democracy. By showing that this greater democratization will not be exploited for political gain, opposition parties open the door for these improvements. Also, it will be in their interests as well because it will give them more security in the future if they are able to get elected.
I think it is wrong to say that President Zardari has made a comeback this time since, actually, he never went away. Zardari is the democratically elected President, and he has been serving out his term. Yes, there has been controversy and rumour. But I think the British PM Gordon Brown has had a much rougher time of it.
Don’t call it a comeback. Instead, the headline should read: “Military and Political Parties Unite, Our Democracy Grows Stronger”