Sunday, September 7, 2008

Asif Ali Zardari: the godfather as president

He may be a pliant partner for the west, but with his record of corruption, Zardari is the worst possible choice for Pakistan

By Tariq Ali, Sunday September 07 2008

"Asif Ali Zardari – singled out by fate to become Benazir Bhutto's husband and who, subsequently, did everything he could to prevent himself from being returned to obscurity – is about to become the new President of Pakistan. Oily-mouthed hangers-on, never in short supply in Pakistan, will orchestrate a few celebratory shows and the ready tongues of old cronies (some now appointed ambassadors to western capitals) will speak of how democracy has been enhanced. Zardari's close circle of friends, with whom he shared the spoils of power the last time around and who have remained loyal, refusing all inducements to turn state's evidence in the corrruption cases against him, will also be delighted. Small wonder then that definitions of democracy in Pakistan differ from person to person.

There will be no expressions of joy on the streets to mark the transference of power from a moth-eaten general to a worm-eaten politician......

The country desperately needs a president capable of exercizing some moral authority and serving as the conscience of the country. The banished chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, automatically comes to mind, as do the figures of Imran Khan and IA Rehman (the chairman of the Human Rights Commission), but the governing elite and its self-serving backers in Washington have always been blind to the real needs of this country. They should be careful. The sparks flying across the Afghan border might ignite a fire that is difficult to control."

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