Tag Archive | "Zardari"

A Clear Case of Isolating and Targeting the Jang Group

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A Clear Case of Isolating and Targeting the Jang Group

Posted on 06 February 2011 by PakBee - Total hits: 2,870

KARACHI: A spokesman for the Jang Group of newspapers on Friday expressed deep sorrow and regret over the release of a legal notice, said to have been issued by the authorities against the Group, a copy of which has not yet been officially delivered, but it has been made public on TV channels and media within the country and worldwide.

The spokesman said the notice appeared to be part of a trend to gain cheap, free publicity and claim innocence without pursuing the case in any court of law. Previously also the authorities had resorted to the same tactics by issuing notices against the Group when reports filed among others by Kamran Khan, a senior journalist of the Group, which were never followed up with action. The spokesman said it was interesting to note that the government had not reacted to hundreds of reports and stories about the corruption, loot and plunder of the rulers to prove its innocence but it had taken up a matter of huge public interest to target the Jang Group, as part of its continued policy to inflict financial losses to the Group. It would have been a matter of satisfaction if such prompt notice had been taken against reports of loot and plunder.

It was observed by the spokesman that the Jang Group has again been singled out while the same public interest story was already being widely circulated in the media worldwide, on websites and internet blogs and no one took any notice. It would be seen now whether only the Jang Group is targeted or others also are served with similar notices. What the Jang Group had done was to make an honest attempt to quash these widely circulating rumours and stories and had followed the strict principles of professional ethics by not only very prominently highlighting the denials issued by the spokesman of the President’s House and personal aide of the President Farahnaz Ispahani but had also approached the lady concerned, as it should be done in all such cases, by calling her and talking to her directly so that complete facts could come out once for all.

It should also be noted that the headlines of the Jang Group stories focused on proving that these rumours and web-stories were incorrect. Two particular headlines read as follows: “Presidency rejects Zardari’s marriage reports” (The News, Feb 4, 2011) and “Dr Zamani denies wedding Zardari”, Says she never met the president (The News, Feb 5, 2011). These reports did not reproduce any of the material which was circulating on dozens of web sites including many specific details. The numerous videos and speeches of Dr Zamani, available on the U-Tube and Internet containing many emotional references to President Zardari and “Son” Bilawal were also not used in any of the stories.

It is unfortunate that Dr Zamani, when contacted by Group Editor Mr Shaheen Sehbai, refused to deny or confirm the truth of the story. Her evasiveness gave rise to more questions as in such personal matters a simple no could have ended the matter there and then. That Dr Zamani was evasive even on the second day was confirmed when another senior journalist of the Jang Group, Mr Azim M Mian, who knows her personally, tried to contact her and get her viewpoint. She was again evasive and after a lot of persuasion, and later intervention by some Pakistani officials, she ultimately gave her version. It was also reproduced prominently in the Jang Group.

The Jang Group emphasises that in dealing with these stories, complete professionalism was used, all norms of ethics were observed, all versions were prominently printed and frivolous details which had been circulating for days and weeks were ignored. There was absolutely no malice and ill-intention but to bring out the truth about the whole issue which concerned a duly elected President of Pakistan. It may not be out of place to mention that public office holders, elected politicians and celebrities continue to remain a subject of great public interest round the world and there are numerous examples, from President Bill Clinton, to President Sarkozi to Lady Diana, to Prime Minister Berlusconi, and many such world figures, who have come under media scrutiny on matters of their personal life. Just two weeks ago Italy’s prime minister faced a prostitution investigation in Milan over a teenaged nightclub dancer who attended parties at his private residence. All these reports do not mean that the media is targeting any leader for personal malice or deliberately slandering him or her.

The Jang Group believes that the case is just the reverse when targeting the Group by the Presidency is concerned. There have been many attempts to stifle the voice of this Group by various government tactics and we had to seek the ultimate justice from the Supreme Court of Pakistan to get our rights in the World Cup rights case recently. It should be noticed that while several media outlets and newspapers have published the same stories with great details, notices have only been issued to the Jang Group. It is a clear case of using this subject to victimize the Group for reasons other than this particular issue, including the fact that the Group has relentlessly exposed corruption and bad governance of the present rulers.

The latest notice is also a part of that vicious campaign to try to inflict losses on the Group. While there is absolutely no reason to object to the stories published in the Group newspapers, as these were balanced, professionally handled, objective and true, the issuance of the notice asking for $100 million (Over Rs8 billion) is nothing but another show of contempt and hatred against the Group and its dedicated professionals who have done a remarkable job of exposing corruption at the highest level and have brought numerous cases to light, in many cases forcing the corrupt politicians and officials to pay back billions to the national exchequer.

People should remember that during the tenure of military dictator Pervez Musharraf the Jang Group and its professionals exposed his wrongdoings. In consequence the Jang Group was targeted by dictator Musharraf causing loss of billions of rupees to the Group. The Jang Group, however, refused to submit to the dictator’s pressure. As always, Jang Group is today committed to stand against the wrongdoing of anyone whatever high status he may enjoy. This has tremendously increased the respect and credibility of the Group among the people.

The Group is proud of its highly professional journalists who have shown remarkable courage and commitment despite the use of high-handedness and at times brute use of force to silence them. The Group spokesman said some people in the Presidency would gain no benefit by using those media elements who had remained their business partners and one of whom fled the country because he was wanted by NAB (National Accountability Bureau). To let our readers make their own independent judgment on the two stories on the subject of Mr Zardari and Dr Zamani, we are hereby reproducing the full text of both the stories so that anyone who has not read them can judge whether there is any intention to slander or cause damage to any one’s reputation:

The News, Feb 4, 2011

Presidency rejects Zardari’s marriage reports

WASHINGTON: Dr Tanveer Zamani, a practicing surgeon and a PPP activist in the US, and Farahnaz Ispahani, PPP MNA and a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, have commented differently on a flood of reports and blogs on the Internet which refer to the possibility that Mr Zardari may have secretly married again.

The Sindh Medical College graduate, in her late 40s, who did her PhD in political science from Ireland in 1996, before moving to US for practicing is of Mediterranean descent and reportedly lives in Gramercy Park, Manhattan, New York. Many websites claim that she owns estates in London, Dubai, Islamabad and Manhattan. She is also a known Democrat and supported Obama’s 2008 election campaign. She actively participated in Obama’s Healthcare reform bill to make it a law. Talking to me on Thursday morning when I called her on her toll free phone, she responded to my questions in a rather roundabout way. I confirmed twice that she was Dr Zamani. Her voice was the same as in many U-Tube videos. I introduced myself and asked her one simple question: “There is a lot of buzz on the Internet about a personal matter about you, would you like to confirm or deny it.” I did not mention the subject. Dr Zamani said she would not say anything but she had sought legal advice on the matter. I then asked directly that this was about her alleged link to Mr Zardari and a very personal matter, so what was illegal about it and why she had sought legal advice?

She said: “Personal matters are a very low priority. We have to handle the Egypt situation, the prices situation (in Pakistan), introduce Bilawal as the PPP leader, and many other issues. Personal issues come very low on my priority.” After this strange response, I asked her again: “Are you Mrs Zardari.” She said: “I would not comment on it.” I again said was it anything illegal that she had done. She said I have sought legal advice on how to handle the situation. “So you would not deny or confirm,” I asked. She said: No comment. I thanked her, wondering whether I had just completed the first interview of Pakistan’s prospective First Lady.

Reports circulating widely on the numerous blogs say recently she has been prohibited to attend public political meetings due to her security issues. In one such report it has been alleged that President Zardari in a meeting with Obama on 14/1/11 in DC, requested his help in acquiring security for Dr Zamani. No one would confirm this information. But on Thursday a categorical denial on this subject came from the Presidency and PPP MNA Farahnaz Ispahani, who also has been a spokesperson for the president and the PPP at same time.

Presidency spokesman Farhatulla Babar rejected the reports about president’s marriage. He said these speculative reports were the figment of a sick imagination, showing that the president’s opponent’s had chosen to target his personal life.

In a brief message posted on a blog Farahnaz posted from her email (fispahani@gmail.com) at 7:03 pm Pakistan time: “President Asif Ali Zardari is the widower of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. His marital status remains that of a widower”. “This is another nasty, pernicious rumour started by opponents to hurt the president, his family and the party. It is a baseless rumour”.

The News, Feb 5, 2011

Dr Zamani denies wedding Zardari

Says she never met the president

NEW YORK: Dr Tanveer Zamani on Friday denied her wedding with President Zardari and also claimed that she has never met President Zardari either in US or elsewhere. “I have never met President Zardari and the only reason, I have refrained from commenting on an Internet hoax involving me is because I deemed it against my dignity to respond to such a hoax. Bloggers and journalists do not have the right to make up stories and disrupt the lives of people,” she said in an email message.

She explicitly and clearly denied being married or being subject to a proposal or notion of being married to the president, whom she holds in high esteem. Tanveer Zamani said in her email that this is her first ever denial on the matter while rumours and emails about her wedding have been in circulation for the last three weeks. Some Pakistanis in the community regarded the silence of Tanveer Zamani over her wedding rumours as “her own ploy to seek attention” of President Zardari. Why and how a dignified and educated Pakistani woman can ignore, keep silent over all such emails and rumours about her wedding with the president of Pakistan. She has been avoiding to make any categorical denial to journalists, when she was approached for her version or denial.

How this story of Pakistani community in US got to Islamabad and other capitals needs to be explained. Since her active participation in local PPP in USA, Dr Tanveer Zamani has been a highly vocal “jiyali” of President Zardari and PPP. She invited hostility from some of her PPP co-workers, who started a campaign of nasty emails against her. This email war has been on for the last five months. Some Internet surfers sent emails/comments about her passion for the personality of President Zardari.

During the last visit of President Zardari, her tireless efforts to meet the president failed. Factually, during her activism, she has never met Asif Zardari. Her meeting with Farhatullah Babar and few other PPP ministers can be seen on her Facebook page. She spent a lot of money on her websites, interviews and statements to publicise her pictures and speeches.

The story about the reported Zardari-Zamani wedding is not new to many New Yorkers and Internet surfers. It has been on Facebook and some other websites for the last three weeks. Even some emails were circulated when President Asif Ali Zardari was in Washington on January 14. When the president left the US after his short visit, an email was circulated that Dr Tanveer Zamani has also left for Dubai where arrangements for a quiet wedding were in place for Dr Zamani and President Zardari. Since then some emailers and Internet surfers added more to this wedding episode and wished a peaceful and happy life for the couple.

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Why Cameron should count his fingers after shaking hands with Pakistan’s Mr Ten Per Cent

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Why Cameron should count his fingers after shaking hands with Pakistan’s Mr Ten Per Cent

Posted on 05 August 2010 by PakBee - Total hits: 20,565

Fairly or not, Pakistan is synonymous with angry men who bomb people or take to the streets in protest.
An effigy labelled ‘Cameroon’ was burned in response to the Prime Minister’s comments about the country ‘looking both ways’ when it comes to fighting the Taliban.
Nonetheless, Pakistanis have a good sense of humour. There are many jokes about President Asif Ali Zardari, who this weekend plans to tackle Cameron about his comments when the pair meet at Chequers.

Handshake: David Cameron with Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari last year

Here’s a typical example: Pakistani robber: ‘Give me all your money!’
Zardari: ‘Don’t you know who I am? I’m the president.’
Robber: ‘OK. Give me all my money.’
Such a quip illustrates perfectly how the Pakistani leader is viewed by his people: corrupt, venal and materialistic.

However, the joke runs thin when you realise censorship laws ban anyone from emailing or texting jokes about the President (with the threat of 14 months in jail) and, as part of a crackdown on opposition groups, 500 websites including YouTube, Facebook and Google have been outlawed.
Zardari has been nicknamed Mr Ten Per Cent (and more recently, Mr Hundred and Ten Per Cent) for his rumoured habit of skimming off millions in kickbacks.
Indeed, before winning power he spent more than a decade in jail following corruption charges.
A typical story about Zardari relates how a businessman who owed him money was allegedly seized by thugs, who strapped his leg to a remote-controlled bomb and forced him to go to a bank to withdraw the cash.
Zardari’s powerbase derives from the political reputation of his wife Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007.
She had carried the torch for her father Zulfikar, the one-time prime minister who was hanged in 1979 for authorising the murder of a political opponent.
Benazir was a charismatic figure who championed Pakistan’s poor, becoming prime minister in 1988 and 1993.
In much of the Third World, political power is about dynastic entitlement, and the Bhutto-Zardari alliance was no exception.

Jet set: Mr Ten Per Cent arrives at Heathrow accompanied by his son Bilawal, seen scratching his head, and daughter Aseefa, who's holding his hand

Indeed, the Pakistan Peoples Party, which Zardari took over after his wife’s death, is referred to as the Permanent Plunder Party. Not only dogged by a reputation
for corruption, the president faces accusations of gross insensitivity for failing to return home to help tackle Pakistan’sworst floods in its history, which have so far killed up to 1,200 people and forced two million to flee their homes.
Critics understandably say he should be ‘trying to support his people, not swanning around in the UK and France’.
But the truth is that Zardari seems more concerned with self-aggrandising meetings with Cameron and the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, and advancing his family’s political future rather than tackling homegrowntragedies.
Indeed, it seems that a priority on his trip to Britain is to attend a rally in Birmingham to further his 22-year-old son Bilawal’s fledgling political career.
This mummy’s boy Oxford graduate, often seen in jeans and nautical themed T-shirts, is being groomed as his parents’ successor.
With opportunistic filial piety, Bilawal bears the Bhutto as well as the Zardari name.
At least there is proof Bilawal did graduate from Oxford — unlike his father, who claims to have studied at the non-existent London School of Economics and Business (a claim made just after a college degree became mandatory for Pakistani MPs.)
Another mystery is how the ruler of a country with desperate poverty and rampant illiteracy seems to be worth a rumoured £1.2 billion, despite having spent 1997 to 2004 in jail while corruptionand murder charges against him were investigated — and then dropped.
And there were the unsavoury episodes when one of his wife’s brothers was poisoned and another murdered after prolongedrows with Benazir and Zardari about hidden assets.
Originally from a minor landowningfamily, Zardari’s boat came in through an arranged marriage in 1987 with the Bhutto political clan, who have huge landholdings in Pakistan.
Though they occupied a £30 million official residence in Islamabad, with 110 acres, money was immediately diverted from funding urban parks to acquire a further 11½ acres of protected woodlands for a private polo park and parking for Zardari’s friends.
At this point, it’s worth pointing out that most Pakistanis live on just £1.25 a day.

Flood horror: Soldiers assist a boy out of a boat after he was rescued from heavy floods in a village of Deira Din Panah, in Pakistan's Punjab province

Though Zardari had no official position other than as consort to his imperiously liberal wife, he was always at hand whenever government defence contracts, broadcast licences, projects to build power stations and sugar mills, or export licences for textiles were up for grabs.
Among the reported scams is one in which a Swiss company paid 9 per cent commission into offshore accounts linked to Zardari in return for inspecting the Customs duty of all imports to Pakistan.
In a country where just one in 100 people pays income tax because of poverty, duty receipts are critical to maintaining the government’s income. This move is alleged to have netted Zardari nearly £7.5 million.
Another arrangement allegedly involved giving a Dubai merchant a monopoly of the gold imported from the Gulf into Pakistan.
According to a New York Times investigation shortly before the monopoly came into effect, £6 million was allegedly sent from the gold dealer’s company in two tranches to Citibank deposit accounts linked to Zardari.
Money is said to have been recycled via front companies in the tax-friendly British Virgin Islands into numerous overseas properties and many more in Pakistan, as well as a string of Pakistani sugar mills.
Land deals seemed to involve controversial valuations. For example, one plot worth two billion rupees was acquired for a bargain 62 million rupees.
The Bhutto-Zardari property portfolio includes a country club and polo ranch in Florida; a country estate called The House of the White Queen in France (where he stayed this week); and luxury apartments in London’s chic Pont Street in Belgravia.
Part of the portfolio is a 355-acre estate in Surrey called R Rockwood, which is up for sale for £7.5 million, though when he bought it, Zardari’s declared wealth was just £300,000.
Lavish home improvements have been made to the property. Tiny LED lights over the four- poster bed in the master suite mimic the stars in the night sky.
Bizarrely, Zardari has recreated the interior of the local Dog and Pheasant pub in the house after he tried to buy it, but the publican refused to sell. The house’s 30ft Lalique glass dining table alone cost £120,000, not to speak of the tiger-skin rugs and crystal chandeliers.
Such opulence is grotesque, particularly in light of the questionable circumstances surrounding the way the president obtained his wealth.
Now this controversial figure has arrived in Britain, apparently to lecture Cameron about how serious his government is about combating the nests of terrorists who lurk all over Pakistan.

Karachi in turmoil: Pakistani men queuing to buy fuel after the second night of violence in the capitali yesterday

By refusing to cancel the trip and return home to his flood-ravaged nation, he’s clearly made the decision that his presence in Europe will guarantee that the West will continue to pour huge amounts of aid into his venal swamp.
And, no doubt, much of this financial support will be diverted to the country’s powerful army — which is rumoured to be even more corrupt than Zardari.
All British governments have had to deal with unsavoury characters.
Apparently, this is the price we must pay for preventing any other Pakistani-related bombers, like those who stalked our transport system on 7/7, from hitting Britain.
Indeed, Pakistan is fast becoming the breeding ground for much terrorism and when we do eventually pull out of Afghanistan, ensuring Pakistan’s support will be vital to the stability of the region.
Not that he needs me to tell him, but when Mr Cameron entertains this dreadful fraud at Chequers, he should sup with a very long spoon.

MICHAEL BURLEIGH is author of Blood And Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism


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Zardari using Google Earth to check land encroachment

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Zardari using Google Earth to check land encroachment

Posted on 24 July 2010 by PakBee - Total hits: 11,027

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari Friday said that the government has initiated a drive against the encroachers and ordered a survey of all those areas which had been encroached upon, adding, all the encroached areas would be cleared of the encroachers.

He suggested the authorities to use the Google Earth to check whether the Goths of Karachi were old and not encroached upon.

“We welcome all those who are coming to Karachi, as it is their constitutional right, but not in the form of ‘Qabza groups,” he said.

Speaking at the ceremony of 11th draw of Waseela-e-Haq and Smart Cards programmes of Benazir Income Support Programme here, he said, the government would fulfil the vision of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto of women empowerment.

The president congratulated the gathering that the Parliament has unanimously passed the Benazir Income Support Programme bill as all the political parties, under the reconciliation policy and showing maturity has acknowledged that it should be continued in future as well as it is in the best national interest and benefits the downtrodden section of the society.

“Government is committed to steer the country out of the present crisis and we all will together give a better Pakistan to our coming generations,” the President said.

He said that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has done his B.A Hons and got the same marks which Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had obtained. He said, “now we will start his training-the politics is in his genes”.

“We will give the youth of Pakistan in his hand and he (Bilawal) will make progammes for the coming generations,” he said.

President Zardari said that presently the users of internet in the country are 20 million and in coming years they would reach to 200 million, adding, the present government wanted to provide internet service and a laptop to every home.

He said that now the time has come that the son of a ‘Hari’ in Sindh should know the outflow of River Indus.

The president said that he had raised the issue of water with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the UN summit two years back and he (Singh) had said that Pakistan can take the issue to the World Bank.

He said that the government had hired an international arbitrator who would talk with India on the issue.

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Zardari in the Crosshairs

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Zardari in the Crosshairs

Posted on 20 November 2009 by PakBee - Total hits: 2,076

Afghanistan’s election crisis has temporarily abated, but Pakistan could soon face a volatile political transition of its own. President Asif Ali Zardari is under ever-increasing pressure to resign. His influence and power is dwindling and will likely continue to diminish in the coming months. By this spring, the Zardari presidency could meet its end.

There have been several waves of pressure on Zardari this year, coming primarily from the Army and segments of the private media — both see Zardari as inept, corrupt, and unpatriotic. And it appears that the Army is entering into a decisive final stage in its power struggle with Zardari, which began with the latter’s attempt last year to put the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the military’s chief spy service, under civilian control. Until now, Zardari has called his opponents’ bluff, and they, lacking the constitutional means to remove him, have faltered in their attempts to oust him. But cracks in Zardari’s political coalition are emerging and he is more vulnerable now than ever.

Pakistani politics has historically been marked by extreme bandwagoning around an ascending power broker. Smaller parties ride it to the top, but once the political peak has been reached, they vacate their defensive positions and join the attacking side.

Zardari is fast falling prey to this dynamic. In a recent television interview, for instance, Altaf Hussain, head of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a second-tier political party and member of Zardari’s coalition government — asked the president to resign. Hussain has since backtracked after MQM parlays with Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). But the MQM and other parties successfully prevented the PPP from renewing the 2007 National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), an amnesty bill that benefitted Zardari and other members of the coalition government.

Without this parliamentary protection, Zardari and his allies are now exposed, wounded, and the sharks smell blood in the water. Some would like to leave him limbless — without meaningful constitutional powers to impact the political process — but alive enough to make key concessions and serve as a figurehead. Others are aiming for the jugular.

The Pakistani Army, by all indications, would like to see Zardari go, having tried to push him closer to the exit door in March and August of this year. Zardari’s accidental presidency, which was produced by his wife’s assassination and political deal making to secure an indirect election, was never quite accepted by the Army, which sees him as overly dovish, if not “traitorous,” on security issues, like India, and is on edge about the president’s attempts to impose civilian oversight over the military.

The scheduled retirement of Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani in November 2010 is likely to add further strain to this relationship. Zardari, as president, has the power to appoint the head of the Army and other military services. His dysfunctional relationship with the Army could create a sense of uncertainty within the institution and fear that its corporate autonomy and monopoly over shaping national security policy are under threat. As Pakistan battles a hydra-headed insurgency in its Pashtun belt and the United States seeks an endgame in Afghanistan, healthy civil-military relations in Pakistan are critical.
Most political elements — including Zardari’s own prime minister and his party’s vice chairman, Yousuf Raza Gilani — would settle for him to be constitutionally neutered, ending the president’s ability to dissolve parliament and appoint military service chiefs. Gilani seeks an empowered premiership. And toward this end (some Pakistani commentators speculate, with good reason), he has been colluding with the Army and elements of the opposition to weaken Zardari’s position.

However Gilani is playing his cards, he has a difficult balancing act to maintain, for he could be discarded if and when Zardari is ousted by the Machiavellian maneuvering of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who covets a third shot at the premiership. Gilani could, at least for the next year, be an asset for Sharif — serving to neutralize Zardari and constitutionally empower the presently weakened office of prime minister. It would make political sense for Sharif to then push for midterm elections just after the economic and security climate bottoms out and once the prime minister’s office is fully empowered. (One can almost hear Sharif’s advisors saying, “Let Gilani, Zardari, and the PPP do the dirty work.”) To serve as prime minister for the third time, Sharif would need a constitutional amendment passed by a two-thirds majority in parliament to lift a two-term limit on the premiership. Sharif can only get this passed via deal making with other political parties, but the Army can also get in the mix, make some deals of its own, and shut out Sharif.

But when it comes to Zardari’s fight for political survival, it’s the second-tier political parties, such as the MQM, that are the true wildcards. Since no party in Pakistan currently holds a parliamentary majority, the smaller parties have a veto power on parliamentary votes (such as for impeachment). Not surprisingly, these parties are using their wild-card status — coupled with Zardari’s vulnerability — as a bargaining chip in order to influence his actions to their benefit. The MQM, for example, would like governorship of Sindh and to retain administrative control over urban areas of the province. But it and other small parties generally side with the dominant or rising power broker. The recent MQM push against Zardari signals, at least, a political consensus in favor of a weakened Zardari.
If these parties continue to successfully manipulate Zardari he will become a ceremonial president, which would result in nothing short of a political prison. It would deny him tangible power and delay his eligibility for a run for the National Assembly, and thus for the premiership, until two years after his presidential term ends. What’s more, internal divisions within the PPP are sure to increase as Zardari’s capacity to influence events declines and alternative power centers grow in his place.

Zardari’s decline has serious implications for U.S. policy toward Pakistan. His political neutralization would deny the United States a local civilian lever against the Pakistan Army. Restraining the Army’s praetorianism, some in Washington argue, will markedly reduce its support for militants in Afghanistan and India, as Pakistan’s major political parties (particularly the PPP) are far more inclined toward normalizing ties with neighboring states.

As the challenges in Afghanistan grow and Zardari weakens, Washington becomes increasingly dependent on the Pakistani Army. In fact, U.S. success or failure in Afghanistan will, in part, be decided by the Pakistani Army, which can influence the tempo and trajectory of the war with its control of supply routes from the Arabian Sea into Afghanistan and unparalleled access to Afghan insurgent groups.
Although the United States could try to use Sharif — a vocal advocate of civilian control over the military — he has a long history of leveraging anti-American sentiment and has been unwilling to adopt a firm position against the Taliban. Furthermore, if Washington indelicately shifts its patronage from Zardari to Sharif, the Army could intercept the telegraphed pass.

Within the next few years, Zardari’s political demise could also impact Pakistan’s ideological balance of power. Without meaningful internal reform, the future of the PPP — Pakistan’s largest center-left party — is at stake. Zardari’s unpopularity and inability to legitimately lay claim to the Bhutto name has weakened the PPP in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province. But he, at least, provides some nominal continuity from the Bhutto era as Benazir’s widower.

Internal elections and a reinvigorated push for social justice could bring the PPP back to relevancy. But without that change, the PPP could be reduced to a feudal strip in southern Punjab and rural Sindh, and of declining importance in an increasingly urbanized Pakistan. Indeed, for Zardari, the greatest challenge is not to save his presidency, but to save his party.

The PPP is both a family enterprise dominated by the Bhuttos and Zardaris and a national institution that anchors Pakistan’s secularists and leftists. If the PPP sank along with Zardari, Pakistan would be without a truly national party — the remaining major parties are ethnic or regional — and the odds of ethnic and political fragmentation would increase dramatically. A leaderless left would also embolden the nationalist and Islamic right as Pakistan confronts jihadis at home and debates whether to continue supporting them in the region. And so as Zardari ponders his political future, let us hope that he does not bring down his party, which is critical to his nation’s stability, in a bid to save his imperiled presidency.

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