Naveed Aman Khan
BILAWAL Bhutto Zardari doesn’t want straight-up slugfests now. He prefers doing what he thinks. His father former President Asif Ali Zardari knows the art of scheming and plotting very well. Bilawal would have turned the narrative around a bit. Right now, it’s about do-gooders v the exploiters, the crusading v the corrupt, those on the side of the people and those against. Bhuttos and Zardaris are at their front toes in PDM Movement. Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are playing political cards at their best ultimately benefiting themselves and their political rival Imran Khan. In politics cards are never shown. Besides Imran Khan turn around policy is equally popular amongst the contemporary politicians.
Having serious stakes in Sindh the stronghold of Pakistan People’s Party why Asif Zardari should be anxious for resignations? During the days of Memogate Hussain Haqqani’s conniving put himself and President Zardari in real danger. For long days Veteran Zardari flew off to Dubai and the country left wondering if it still had a President. The things have been quite different, during relatively new transition to democracy. Hussain Haqqani was kicked off, Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani stood his ground, Nawaz Sharif backed off, General Ashfaq Kayani abided by the second-term deal and General Shuja Pasha was drifted to retirement. In memogate, the repercussions were systemic, national and undesirable. That moment the allies appeared and disaster was averted. In Sindh, the repercussions seem regional, specific and seemingly desirable. Then there were no allies appearing.
Recently, Asif Zardari’s speech at 13th death anniversary of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto has exposed the hidden frailties of PDM. What are the PDM leaders really up to? The baseline is still unclear. The leaders want the orthodox excesses cut out and some semblance of acceptability returned. Multidimensional Asif Zardari has advantages with his baseline. Essentially, one can’t be sure that decapitation isn’t the real goal. If the baseline demand is to cut out the worst excesses, to do a bit of trimming and pruning, how do you jettison yourself, your inner circle or the guys who know all of your secrets and whom you can’t cut loose because they may turn on? On 27 December sharper, better counselled, more alert Zardari has spoken in a different way. What is being demanded is an overhaul of the Zardari way. The ostensibly simple cut out the worst excess is really the profoundly complicated start from scratch of your model of politics. At this stage he doesn’t want to be far from the top of his game in hand. Former President Asif Zardari is snapper, better counselled, more alert than his contemporary ones. Rather than warn the youngsters off, he could have dared them to take him on.
For Pakistan People’s Party undoubtedly, Karachi is lucrative and entire Sindh has coins. Since advancement of PDM, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been taking two steps forward one backwards. The narrative of both PDM leadership and Imran Khan would turn to civ-mil too to worry about the standards of democracy. The fear of it being snatched away again to the generals gaining strength by dismantling a politician yet again. Had Bilawal Bhutto Zardari done it that way dared them to get him. It’s like he would be saved and the narrative immediately be turned. But it would have helped him clamber back on the national stage, out of the provincial hole he’s dug himself into. That’s far better place to mount a defence from. The power center may think about it this way. Are the strong lore going after the PPP now because the political stature of Bilawal and veteran Zardari is out of control or are the boys going after them because they can now? The mythology is that PPP with just one provincial government is managing to out-do PPP with federal government and two provincial governments. If one wants to save oneself regionally, should go nationally.
A shrewed, better counselled, more alert Asif Ali Zardari is different politician of PDM in political approach and procedures. In his speech at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh he has referred his successful Musharraf ousting model. Was he always just a myth that circumstances had made seem real? Zardari would have realised much of that and delivered the speech on the occasion of 13th death anniversary of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto differently. Then Nawaz Sharif lured into taking Memogate to the Supreme Court, but once it was apparent that decapitation was the goal, he quickly backed off. National Asif Zardari had national gains while a Sindh Asif Zardari seems worth helping out so much. Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are equally decisive for the PDM and Imran Khan. Veteran Molana is President of PDM but role of Asif Zardari has become more worth.
—The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.