DR GHAYUR AYUB
The other evening, whilst sitting in front of the television, feeling tired, I closed my eyes and the political uncertainty in Pakistan started going through my mind. I must have dosed off to sleep at one point as I dreamt sitting in a big chair surrounded by familiar but yet unknown faces. I was someone in authority because everyone looked at me attentively with profound respect.
I glanced down at my hands; they were mine but yet unfamiliar. There were two rings on the right hand. One had a stone with a distinct greenish shine to it. It was Feroza, most probably carved in Mashad, Iran. I lifted my hand to feel my face; it felt like mine but yet it wasn’t mine; I had a thick moustache. I’ve never had a moustache in my life. Who was I?
“Sir, you deserve to be the President.” I heard a female voice coming from the right. I turned my face and saw a familiar, elegantly dressed lady, looking at me. I couldn’t help noticing the rings she had on her fingers too. I looked back at my hand, the Feroza in my ring was gleaming. I lifted my head to look at the lady again; this time I saw she was holding a green Tasbeeh in her right hand. My heart started racing.
She said, “you are the most deserving candidate at this crucial time in history.” She sounded different this time. I felt a chill in my spine and cold sweats on my forehead. ‘Do you think so?’ I could hardly speak. ‘I know so.’ She answered with authority. I couldn’t look into her piercing eyes.
I nodded my head and closed my eyes and kept them shut for a long time. When I opened them again, I was all alone in a small dark room with only a dim light piercing through a small round window like a porthole of a ship. Was I in a ship? May be I was. The suggestion given by the lady kept pounding my senses.
Why should I become the president? I asked myself. People don’t speak high of me. They say that my words don’t match my deeds. I have surrounded myself with people who have blemished records. My past record is not that unblemished either. Just a few months ago I was insignificant in the political arena. People ignored me when it came to politics.
Now they want me to become the president? Why? Why now? I am the same old…but old who? Who am I? Am I who I think I am? Am I Asif Zardari? Strange feelings swept over me. I knew I was not him but yet I was. I was now steering a ship; a ship sailing through troubled waters. I didn’t know how I got there, all I knew was that I had to steer the ship through the tempestuous sea; a sea of uncertainty, terrorism, lawlessness, religious fanaticism, poverty, electricity crisis, mounting food prices.
As if this wasn’t enough, my coalition partner left me stranded, at a time when lawyers were knocking violently on my door. I saw nothing but waves and waves of trouble and chaos. What can I do to clear this image that people have of me of being an unreliable, short-sighted person? Can I do something to clear this perception? Can I steer the ship in a way that will earn the respect from political friends and foes? Can I? I heard a voice from within saying “yes, you can”.
Suddenly, serenity overwhelmed me. I knew that the settlement of the judges issue is as important to a vast number of the public as was the ousting of the president. I also knew that before the resignation of Musharraf, people were blaming me for delaying the issue, but in the end he was removed in the most democratic way. People appreciated my efforts. The question is, can I reinstate the judges in a similar way? Yes, I think I can by becoming the president. That way, while protecting my interests, I can fulfil the promises I made with to my coalition partners, with other stakeholders and with the public.
1. I would give indemnity to Musharraf and restore all the judges including CJ to November 2 position. In that way, I would not only fulfil the promise I made to Musharraf and other stakeholders, but also with my primary coalition partners PML-N. In doing so, I’ll kill two, no three, birds with one stone. The restoration of the judges will improve my falling image, like it did when I made Musharraf resign.
2. Then, I’d work with the Parliament to restore the Constitution of 1973 as it stood on October, 12, 1999, keeping intact those articles which pertain to woman seats, woman’s rights, minority rights and increased number of seats in both the houses. This would mean;
— I would play a major role shelving the17 th Amendment,
— Abolition of Article 58(2)b
— Taking all the powers of the President incorporated by General Musharraf and giving them back to the Prime Minister.
3. In addition, I’d add one major article in the new amended Constitution;
— I’ll add important clauses (preferably all) of Charter of Democracy signed by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.
After I completed my task, I would resign from the post and help elect someone else (most probably a woman) for the post of Presidency. And I would go back to the post Shaheed Benazir Bhutto assigned to me until Bilawal reaches the age to enter politics. I would become the Co-chairman of PPP again.
In this way I would prove to the world in general and the Pakistani public in particular that I am not the one that makes and breaks promises easily as is perceived. I would prove to them practically that I am a changed man, a man of honour. They will see me as a statesman who steered the country out of trouble in the most difficult circumstances. As far as my political friends and foes are concerned, they would then understand why I took time to restore the judges. A sudden scream made me jump and I opened my eyes.
It was Davina shrieking in her typical style and telling the participants of The Big Brother not to swear as they were live on the television. I rubbed my eyes and sat up in my chair. Looking blankly at the TV, I asked myself; if I were Asif Zardari would I really be doing what I thought I would do in my dream?
Source: Business Recorder: 31/8/2008