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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who will we be defending ourselves from on THIS September 6th?

For many years Pakistanis have observed September 6th as the National Defense Day (also dubbed Army Day), albeit with decreasing fervour. The decline in excitement, other than one that any joyous escape from school a holiday brings, has been caused, partially, from the passage of time from the 1965 war: most of the readers of this blog had not even been born then, while others now have a better understanding of the misadventure. Another factor, however, is also the growing disenchantment with, and opposition to, the political role of the Army. This September 6th, again, if the Presidential Election takes place, the Army may be on many minds - or at least in the warped minds of those who continue to look upon it as the only possible political saviour. Let us hope, however, that politics is not on the Army's mind - an oxymoron, some would argue - and General Kiyani (despite the warning bells that the letter quoted Ardeshir's column today echoes) will continue to depoliticize the Army. But, hey, there is such a thing as pushing someone too far! And we may be leaning too hard on him already. President Zardari? asks the headline in today's Dawn, announcing the acceptance of the proposal (to contest the presidential election) by arguably the most controversial figure Pakistan's politics has ever seen.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Saturday formally named its Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari as its candidate for the office of the president. “Being the party’s deputy secretary-general, I am pleased to announce that PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has accepted the will of the party to become Pakistan’s next president,” said the Leader of the House in the Senate, Mian Raza Rabbani, while announcing the decision of naming Zardari as the candidate for the office of the president.
The News, another national newspaper, featured a story yesterday, spelling out why many are afraid of such a possibility. Here's how it ends:
Zardari’s nomination has generated a stir among the political, social, bureaucratic, and security circles of the capital. It would be for the first time that a single person would run the state, the government and all its organs, as well as the country’s biggest political party. If elected, president Asif Ali Zardari will also be Chairman National Security Council, who will be armed with the authority to appoint the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, provincial governors, Chief Election Commissioner, Attorney General, and the powers to dissolve the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies under Article 58-2(b). Compared to Musharraf, Zardari as president will be much more powerful as he will also control Pakistan’s biggest political party bequeathed to him by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto along with all her political and monetary assets. After having a hand-picked, “yes” prime minister, compliant judiciary, presidential powers under 17th Amendment and the biggest political party which would wait for his nod for any action, Zardari is set to become more powerful than Musharraf or any politician in Pakistan would ever have dreamt of.
[Aside: Does no one at The News know that a preposition is not something you end a sentence with?] Dawn's headline proved really disturbing for a dear friend, Tony Afzal, living in the USA. He was horrified enough to write a letter to the newspaper's editor, suggesting things I wouldn't suggest. I cannot quote it in full, since it has not yet been published - though he did send me a copy. This is what he asks all of us: As a people, have we now come to this? Are we all collectively deranged? My short answer: Yes! (Based on my conviction that the majority is always wrong. After all, when everyone thinks the same, no one really thinks. And those that try to do so, loudly, get shafted!)

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Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

26 August, 2008 14:08


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