by Quwat Khan Sunny
Recently Mehdi Shah, the chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan wrote an article in a local newspaper in which he has conclusively declared Asif Ali Zardari as Nelson Mandela of Asia. The article was embedded, republished and circulated across social media web sites and different blogs and caught a fair chunk of readers’ attention. The writer says, “Zardari is the benefactor and the hero of Pakistan and the Nelson Mandela of south Asia. He has maintained peace and order in the country and his vision has knit all the political parties together for the prosperity of Pakistan. His thoughts are always based on ground realities….so and so on”
Ironically, the Pew Global Attitudes Project poll has recently revealed that only one in five views Zardari favourably. It is all times lowest ratings of any leader in the country.
There is no doubt in Zardari being the hero of Pakistan, for he who drives maximum of the people up the wall becomes a hero in the country. I remember the day when hundreds of people in Lahore were giving hero’s farewell to Kashmir Sing, an Indian spy agent who spent 35 years of his life in Pakistani jail accused of espionage. He was released and sent back amidst celebrations by some crazy people. The moment he passed the wahaga border he said, “I spent 35 years in Pakistani jails and kept my mouth shut. I gracefully did my duty”. That is how quickly heroes are dressed up.
As a reader of the article I was somewhat cautious to accept the word benefactor too as there is hardly anything that qualifies the president to this heavy weight title. Also, it would look so funny if someone attempts to wrap Zardari in the personality of Nelson Mandela. Remember, Zardari is Zardari, and nobody should be equated with him. In my opinion, even Zardari himself would mind to be called Nelson Mandela, a relatively less handsome black African.
Being a business student, I admire Zardari’s outstanding business capabilities. There are very few people in the world who make career out of nothing. I cannot think of any business guru in the world who knows better than Zardari, about the shortest route to the summit of the wealth. I mean, do you know any one in the world who earns millions of dollars only in commission and kickbacks? He is the president of the country without any genuine consent of its citizens.
And then whom do you know in the world who has got the guts to break tons of promises with his own nation? I cannot remember of any Muslim leader in the world who can dare to hug a lady like Sara Palin in front the public? But please do not insist our president; he can do it in front of hundreds of the journalists. I am always impressed of these and many other things about him.
The sun-shine smile that beams out from the sparsely grown moustaches of our president can lure anybody to make poetry about him and apparently that is what Mehdi Shah has done.
Wherever the article was circulated, it was dumped with thumb-down ratings and solemn disapproval. People have concerns and the concerns are fairly genuine. Mehdi shah was not chosen to be a writer but a representative of a nation. He was supposed to write and fight for the rights of his people. All of sudden, in his bestowed cozy office he decides to be a writer and what a crap he is writing on. Anyways, everyone has got a freedom of speech given by the ultimate rented democracy in our country. But frankly speaking, the article contains information that misleads the simpleton people of Gilgit-Baltistan. He is writing something which he himself does not believe in. Although most of the people know much about Zardari and Mandela, yet the writer of the article looks so naïve that he has attempted to bullfight the truth.
The least asked question in the world would be who is Mandela? And the narration would be: he is the living legend and world’s most recognized personality. An icon of humility, peace, determination and unity, Nelson Mandela has inspired people from across the universe with his untiring political principles to give a voice to his fellow blacks. His inspiration has emitted from the deserts of Africa to the nooks of Himalayas. He is given a respect that he does not ask for. He has earned a recognition that he never sought. He is offered degrees which he never studied. He is invited to places which he does not belong to. Millions of people across the globe considered him the guru of political battle that gives victory only to the powerless.
From his early childhood, Nelson Mandela struggled to alienate the colonial authorities.
His principles were so deep rooted in the hearts of his fellow blacks that they struggled for almost three decades until the apartheid regime was compelled to free their leader. Mandela was a successful lawyer with an LLB degree from the University of North and he holds Honorary PhD degrees from more than 50 best international universities. He was awarded Noble peace prize for his tireless struggle against the apartheid regime within and beyond the borders of his country. He has put on the world’s map, a country which is now known as “Africa on the rise”. It is a country of multi-racial people and recently hosted two of the planet’s most powerful sporting events where millions of international visitors dumped the country with foreign money. To some, Mandela had a near-omnipotent power at the negotiating table, carrying with him an indubitable moral authority and gentle but firm sense of fairness. He is called the leader of the leaders. Nelson Mandela is a living history and this is not a new knowledge. A kindergarten child knows about who Mandela is.
Now who is Asif Ali Zardari is also the least asked question in the world. What is he renowned for, is not as president of Pakistan but something else that poorly qualifies him to the much respected titles which Mehdi Shah has so generously given to his boss.
The major local and international media has extensively written about our president. There are hundreds of reports, books and journals that illuminate this dynamic personality in far more authentic way than Mehdi Shah’s biased and opinionated narration.
I was hardly able to find any good view about Zardari in most of the respected media in the world. His career highlights hardly show any brilliance to inspire someone. About he being a president is viewed by internationally acclaimed prolific writer, Tariq Ali, as the wordst possible choice. He has written in his article published on September 7, 2008 in the Guardian that Zardari may be a pliant partner for the west, but with his record of corruption, Zardari is the worst possible choice for Pakistan.
Unlike Mandela who gave away his law firm money among this workers, Zardari is always alledged to cheat with his country. New York Times, on Novermber 24, 2009, quotes the U.S. Senate Report that says Asif Ali Zardari stole over one Billion dollars from Pakistan
Records show that in 1990, Zardari was arrested on the charges of attaching a bomb to a Pakistan businessman who was planning to build a hospital in Pakistan. Zadari and his accomplice Ghulam Hussain Unar allegedly strapped a remote-controlled bomb to the leg of Pakistani-born British businessman Murtaza Hussain Bukhari, and forced him to cash $800,000 in cheques.
In 1993, Murtaza Bhutto, brother of Benazir Bhutto, confronts Zardari, over bringing the Pakistan People’s Party into disrepute over corrupt activities. The meeting ends acrimoniously with Murtaza Bhutto famously shaving off half of Zardari’s moustache.
In 1995, he is reported to open Citibank account which Swiss investigators allegedly passed some USD 40m in illegal payoffs from foreign companies doing business in Pakistan. Includes a one-time payoff of USD 10 million from a West Asia gold bullion dealer in return for a monopoly on Pakistan gold imports
In 1997, Zardari and Banazir Bhutto allegedly receive USD 2 million in kickbacks relating to the purchase of 8,000 Polish tractors as part of the Awami Tractor Scheme.
He was also imprisoned in Pakistan on corruption charges and in connection with the murder of Judge Nizam Ahmad.
In 1998, Swiss Government gives Pakistan government documents relating to corruption allegations against Zardari and his wife, Benazir Bhutto involving USD 13.7m in laundered money.
In August 2003, Swiss magistrates find Zardari and Bhutto guilty of money laundering, sentencing them to six-month suspended jail terms, a fine of $50,000 and ordering them to pay USD 11m to the Pakistani government
In 1997, Media reports then alleged that Zardari had forcibly acquired 2,500 Kanals of land uprooting 300 families, to set up a polo ground and a riding pavilion in Sangjani, 25 minutes from main Islamabad. This case was under investigation; however, the daily news reported that, Zardari acquired this land using his presidency powers in 2010. The land was worth Rs. 1 billion and it was acquired only for 62 million.
At the will of United States and as a result of the notorious NRO deal, Zardari became the president of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He is now-a-days fighting a war for international powers and teaching democracy to the Pakistani nation. Unlike Africa on the rise, his country is passing through crucible of war and badly hit by poverty, power shortage, inflation, foreign debts and pesters of fake degrees. Mehdi Shah’s article says, he is canoeing Pakistan through the trouble waters of time.
I do no mean to humiliate our president by digging in the bad stuff from the media. Zardari knows all about it and may be he enjoys doing it. Nobody has an objection and concern about that. It is however, clear that the two personalities have no single thing in common to be equated with each other. So yes Zardari is Zardari and Mandela is Mandela. The emotional triggers can make it like Zardari is Mandela or Mandela is Zardari but all is a fallacy of self negation.
Our venerable chief minister might have heard only about the jail thing of Mandela which has coaxed him to compare his boss with Mandela. Sometimes, a full moon up in the skies appear a Chappati (loaf) to a hungry man. So no wonder, if Mehdi shah sees Mandela in Zardari. Above all, he feeds on him. It is fairly understandable that the writer’s intention is to please his masters and to deceive his people¬. I do not know how Mandela would feel if he reads the said article but I am sure had this article been published in Johannesburg or Transkei the black kids would have stone the writer to death.
To the writer, I have a suggestion: If you are so itching to write, write on the small and simple things that impact the people who have entrusted you to represent them. Leapfrogging from Islamabad to Africa, to engage your readers in a falsehood will only dig a grave for your political career. People are hardly in a mood to hear your next tilte for Zardari’s kid, which I guess would be the “Gandhi of Pakistan” May God give you courage to overcome the obsequiousness!
The writer is a Canada based freelance contributor hailing from Yaseen Valley, Ghizar.