ISLAMABAD: The “dual” personality of Asif Ali Zardari which surfaced in Monday’s coalition meeting on the restoration of the judges, was taken with a pinch of salt by various sections of society including political leaders and activists, civil society members, media gurus and lawyers.
These sections of society admire the deposed judges as their heroes who unlike today’s political leaders preferred to get themselves detained along with their children at their own houses instead of living in exile in comfortable flats costing multi million dollars.
Zardari time and again claimed that he had undergone massive “transformation” after being incarcerated for eight long years. People’s perception about him was changed from Mr 10 percent of the 90s to a contemporary advocate of reconciliation.
However, he is not ready to accept the similar transformation of the judges who refused to take oath under PCO on November 3. The majority of Pakistanis knew that leaders like Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and even Zardari could not have dared to return to the country, if judges would not have defied the illegal steps taken by President General Pervez Musharraf.
The judges started to assert their independence in deciding cases at a large scale only after deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said a historic ‘no’ to Musharraf. These judges, the people believed, had unleashed a revolution in Pakistan, which resulted in the defeat of pro-Musharraf political forces on Feb 18.
On the one hand Zardari referred to his long ordeal in the jail courtesy “impotent judiciary” as an excuse not to restore them. On the other hand, like a shrewd politician, he is continued to negotiate the restoration of judges with political forces led by Nawaz Sharif, who was responsible for his long years in jail. He was even tortured in jail and his tongue was cut during the second government of Nawaz.
To the much surprise of many, the same Zardari is not ready to forgive those judges who according to him did not bail him out in corruption cases, when he was languishing in jail. But, when someone asks him that why did he not apply the same formula on Nawaz? he smiles and says it’s a “political reconciliation”. Here he shows double character of a politician and stands fully exposed.
It is now becoming clear that these popular honest judges don’t fit in Zardari’s future scheme of things which is fast becoming clear after several recent appointments including that of Salman Farooqi, Rehman Malik, Mahmood Durrani, Siraj Shamsuddin, Hussain Haqqani and others. They all left the country to escape the wrath of the Musharraf government. But, they all returned to grab their own share from the “booty” after taking the first available flights from abroad once after long struggle of judges, lawyers, media and civil society democracy was restored and Musharraf confined to his Army House.
No one asked these “new honourable guests” of Islamabad that where were they when these judges, media men, lawyers and civil society members were being brutally beaten, tear gassed and dragged on roads by furious cops.
Now the very people who remained in exile are spending hours and hours in convincing the media men that how it was important to forget about these judges because they could not afford annoying the presidency and their American bosses.
After the deadlock on Monday, many insiders believe Asif Zardari has finally said something on record in his meeting with Nawaz Sharif, ahead of the fast approaching deadline fixed for the restoration of the judges.
Those who know Zardari well do admit that despite his tall claims of following the policy of “forgive and forget”, he could not think above his personal biases against the judges. Many are shocked and disappointed to see Zardari creating hurdles in the restoration of the defiant judges but those, including this correspondent, who were keeping tabs on his frank discussions on the issue of restoration of judges in the recent weeks in private meetings are not surprised at all.
Before the general elections, Zardari used to make calls from abroad to Pakistani journalists to explain why the PPP was against the restoration of the judges sacked after the declaration of Emergency on November 3.
After allowing his Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to seek vote of confidence from the PML-Q whom he named “qatil league” in Naudero on December 30, and exchanging traditional caps with MQM at 90, Karachi, a smart Zardari is making it clear that he would not care if Nawaz walks out of the alliance. This is a political price that he seems ready to pay simply to settle his own scores with those judges who did not bail him out in corruption references.
Source: The News, 22/4/2008