'ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari began his tenure as a popular head of state in an ideal setting, with all his political friends and foes strongly supporting him and the entire bureaucratic and military establishment ready to give him a chance.
For him it was a great day, the best day of his life, but somehow the new president did not let the people of Pakistan celebrate the day with him, as he chose not to make any major announcement, did not address any of the burning issues which have divided the society and offered them no hope on his debut, though he may try to do so later. ...
[T]he country and the nation are waiting for President Zardari, PM Gilani, Speaker Mirza, their chief ministers in Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP, to come up with something which the people can celebrate. They say Zardari has got his Big Day, when will the people, in whose name he rules, get their break.'
"A horse-drawn black chariot, decorated with the national flag, then carried the new president a short distance before he disembarked to inspect the troops. Zardari kissed his son Bilawal - the chairman of the PPP - and bowed at the feet of his father, Hakim Ali Zardari, before being embraced by his daughters, Bakhtawar and Asifa. ...
The president was given a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent of the three services at the main gate of the Presidency when he arrived for the ceremony in the traditionally decorated buggy. Present at the gate was his father Hakim Ali Zardari, son Bilawal, daughters Bakhtawar, Asifa, sister-in-law Sanam Bhutto and personal staff received him.
Like a deferential son he touched the feet of his father Hakim Ali Zardari, an elderly politician of Sindh who kissed Asif Zardari on both the cheeks and then shook hands with him. Asif Zardari’s son Bilawal was clad in dark blue shalwar and long kurta while both his sisters were wearing shalwar kameez. President Zardari kissed his son and daughters affectionately. Pakistan High Commissioner in the United Kingdom Wajid Shamsul Hasan was also present at the main gate of the Presidency. Asif Zardari inspected the guard of honour gracefully with confidence visible on his face."
'IN his finite wisdom, the most powerful man in the world, President George W. Bush of the USA, has maintained, as I and a few others have done for over eight years, that the president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, under the given circumstances, is the best of the worst available lot to lead this country.
Apart from the fact that it is an impossible country to successfully lead, it has to its credit a population of some 170 millions, totally uncontrolled and galloping off into the rising sunset.
To quote once again my old friend, former police person turned historian, Zafar Rathore, to control hundreds of millions of ‘subcontinental monkeys’ is a nigh impossible task – though it has to be admitted that over our southern borders our very large neighbour has managed it to an extent that is admirable when compared with us. That success, it is universally acknowledged, lies in the fact that India has never been subjected to the slightest form of military intervention.
Now, yesterday, on a cloudy cool Saturday morning, we read that President Musharraf in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America has informed the informed world that, as far as he and Pakistan and its elections go, “If the situation develops in a manner which is absolutely unacceptable to me, I have a choice of leaving.” He has always had the choice, and of course always will have the choice at any time convenient to him.
But at this stage of the game is this not a somewhat ridiculous statement? Under the guise of an emergency, he virtually promulgated martial law — and what is this in the words of a far greater statesman? It is “no law at all. Martial law is brute force. Of course all martial law is illegal, and an attempt to introduce illegalities into martial law, which is not military law, is like attempting to add salt water to the sea.”
The general brought in his own provisional constitution order, rid himself of the meddlesome judges of the Supreme and High Courts, deprived the people of what little law was left to them, shed them of their fundamental rights, and rode rough shod over all and sundry – and now, after he has retired from the post of chief of the army staff, become a civilian president, had himself sworn in as one, given a date for the lifting of the emergency-cum-martial law, with elections scheduled, he opts for a ‘choice’ if circumstances become more unacceptable. How much more unacceptable, one must ask?
At the moment, the legal fraternity is up in arms, some students have risen with them, and the minority that has recently become known as ‘civil society’ has joined in. The beloved awam remain supine and comatose. For them to rise the circumstances will have to be extraordinarily dire and, importantly, there will have to be some sort of leadership. Right now, there is no leadership, there is not one man or woman who can (even employing the renting, feeding, enticing, threatening methods) persuade the larger mass of the masses to get up and protest (though heaven knows they have more than enough against which to protest).
Apart from the admitted undesirability, can this country once again afford the leadership of Benazir Bhutto? Can it afford to be sat on by a man, who wishes to declare himself an Amir-ul-Momineen? Does it need the Pir of London and his strange ways, or the unintelligible Chaudhrys of Gujrat, or, heaven forbid, the Fuzzy-Wuzzies of the Frontier?
As for other remarks and home truths made by Musharraf to ABC, we must stand firmly with him. “We are fighting terrorism everywhere…We have gone through 30 years of turmoil. We cooperate very well. So if there’s a failure, it’s not Pakistan’s failure.” And on bin Laden, “Please don’t accuse us. We handled the situation up to 9/11 for 12 years all alone. Nobody else. And when the Osama bin Laden factor came in and the world wanted him to be shuttered out of the place, who was doing anything?”
And one cannot deny that “You have to understand, we don’t want agitation here…Agitation means breaking down everything, burning things. That cannot be allowed. So, therefore, if anyone is trying to do that we will stop it. That is the way it is in Pakistan.”
Sensible also is his plea to the western powers that they should understand that the imposition of their mores, traditions and democratic credentials upon the nation that is Pakistan is, right now, somewhat unrealistic and impracticable. For a decade, the governments of the US paid Pakistan to train the Taliban, to produce violent bigots, and they armed them for us. Then one fine day, they upped and left us, drowned in a sea of bigotry and violence. Now, post 9/11 with a world largely in turmoil this government of the US wants turmoil ended in Pakistan and they want Musharraf and his men to transform the violent bigots into rational human beings. This is hardly an easy task.
But yes, we too want an end to violence, hatred, intolerance and all that goes with them. We want stability, economic progress and democracy. But we will not get them through street fighting, through breaking and burning, through killing and maiming. The end can only come through reasoning with each other, by talk and discussion rather than unintelligible shouting.
Like it or not, as we find ourselves today, it is the retired General Pervez Musharraf who will have to do the balancing act, not of a dictator, but also not quite that of a democrat – somewhere happily between the two until things settle down. Despite hanging up his uniform, his hold on power, whatever his detractors may say, remains undiminished and unchanged. He still, for the time being, has the support of a very powerful army. There being no visible available alternative, he needs support from somewhere.'
'Accords not holy Quran or Hadith, says Zardari' http://www.thedailystar.net/news-detail-51713
'Agreements with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) "are not holy like the holy Quran and the Hadith" and can be modified if circumstances change, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said in an interview with BBC Urdu on Saturday.
"Political parties do not make promises, they only arrive at understandings," Zardari said, adding that political understandings are "sometimes 50 percent successful, and sometimes more than that, but are still considered successful."
To a question on the future of the ruling alliance, Zardari said Nawaz had stayed away from democratic forces for a long time and that "we will try our best to take him along." '
Also: The News, Jul 13, 2014, 'Zardari had assured US, UK, Kayani of Musharraf’s immunity' https://www.thenews.com.pk/archive/print/639128-zardari-had-assured-us,-uk,-kayani-of-musharrafs-immunity
'ISLAMABAD: Former army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had played the most important role in brokering an immunity deal for former president General Pervez Musharraf in 2008, according to which Asif Zardari gave a firm commitment to the US, UK and Gen Kayani that indemnity for Musharraf would be forthcoming if he stepped down.
According to at least two leaked American diplomatic cables which had made their way to the international media on December 7, 2010, a series of political and strategic blunders by Musharraf had given cause and justification to both Asif Zardari and the then army chief General Kayani to work separately for his honourable exit.
In two separate cables written by then US ambassador to Islamabad Anne W. Patterson, details were given about how General Kayani (who had just been elevated as the army chief after Musharraf took off his uniform to retain the presidency), and Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the majority party in the new National Assembly (after the 2008 polls), had systematically started to distance themselves from Musharraf.
In a ‘brief’ and ‘talking points’ prepared for Admiral Mike Mullen during his early 2008 visit to Pakistan, Ambassador Patterson states:
“As expected, Gen Ashfaq Kayani is taking slow but deliberate steps to distance the army from now civilian President Pervez Musharraf.” In a separate cable about a meeting of US Representatives Adam Schiff and Allyson Schwartz with Asif Zardari in May 2008, the American ambassador had given details of how the PPP co-chairman (who later became president following Musharraf’s exit) advocated an ‘honourable exit’ for Musharraf.
According to the cable, “Zardari blamed Musharraf for not taking enough responsibility for the war on terrorism in Pakistan”, which resulted in a marked increase in anti-US sentiments in the country.
“Anti-US feeling will go away when the old faces go away,” the leaked cable noted, adding that the American government should no longer rely on just Musharraf in fighting terrorism. In her own assessment of Musharraf’s public standing, Ambassador Patterson wrote in the cable that a year ago, his popularity was high. But “beginning with his decision to fire the Chief Justice (Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry) in March 2007, Musharraf has made repeated blunders culminating in a state of emergency and temporary suspension of the Constitution”. A detailed reading of some of these cables suggest that by this time all three major players, Asif Zardari, General Kayani and the American ambassador, had made up their minds that time was up for the former military ruler who had already been accused of involvement in the tragic assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto.
According to one of the leaked cables, the US ambassador wrote on August 23, 2008, during her meetings with Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and General Kayani, immunity for General Pervez Musharraf was discussed besides some other issues. The US Ambassador met with Pakistan People’s Party leader Asif Zardari on August 23, 2008 with then prime minister Gilani on August 21 and with then army chief General Kayani on August 20, 2008.
“In separate meetings with Asif Zardari, PM Gilani and chief of army staff Kayani, the ambassador pressed for quick action on immunity for former Musharraf. Zardari and Gilani said flatly they were committed to providing immunity, but not until after the presidential election (now scheduled for September 6, 2008). Pushing immunity now, they believed, could jeopardize Asif Zardari’s candidacy. General Kayani expressed concern that if immunity becomes tied up with the ongoing debate over the judges’ future, it may never happen. Zardari plans to continue to slow roll action on the judges’ restoration but remains confident that Nawaz Sharif will not walk out of the coalition.
“Nawaz’s deadlines for action on the judges continue to pass unfulfilled; the next one is scheduled for August 27, 2008. The August 20 decision by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to back Zardari for president has strengthened Zardari’s hand against Nawaz Sharif. Nawaz is left with the option of walking out of the coalition, but having little prospect of forcing a new general election in the short term.
“Asif Zardari is walking tall these days, hopefully not too tall to forget his promise to General Kayani and to us on an immunity deal.”
According to the leaked diplomatic cables, “Asif Zardari told the US Ambassador that he was committed to indemnity for Pervez Musharraf.
The ambassador stressed that only the promise of indemnity had persuaded Musharraf to step down as president. We believed, as we had often said, that Musharraf should have a dignified retirement and not be hounded out of the country. Zardari (subsequently) cited a British anecdote about the Spanish empire and said: “Tell the most powerful man in the world that there is no way that I would go back on what I have said.” Zardari noted that he already had firmly committed to the US, the UK and chief of army staff Kayani that indemnity for Musharraf would be forthcoming.
As the ambassador urged him to do it quickly, Zardari said flatly that to do it before he was elected president would lose him votes, but he would pass both the legislation and a presidential pardon as soon as he was elected. Zardari then revealed that Musharraf had approached chief justice (Abdul Hameed) Dogar about issuing a restraining order against the impeachment motion, but Justice Dogar had refused. Zardari also alleged that Musharraf had planned to replace General Kayani as COAS if Dogar had blocked the impeachment. Zardari said he was trying to keep Nawaz in the coalition and was candid that he planned to tie up the judges’ issue for a long time. He added that parliament would debate the restoration of the judges; chief justice Dogar would then submit some rulings on the restoration of the judges; all this could take months. In the meantime, he was trying to persuade former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to become Governor of Balochistan.
Going by the same leaked cable which was written by the US ambassador, Zardari said he did not think Nawaz would leave the coalition, but he admitted the Pakistan Muslim League had become increasingly testy. He said that he had already agreed with Nawaz Sharif to curtail the powers of the president and then allow Nawaz to be eligible for a third term as prime minister; both measures would require constitutional amendments. Zardari said he also had leverage over Shahbaz Sharif, who through paperwork snafus, had been technically elected illegally for a third term as the chief minister.
This, too, would have to be resolved in parliament, Zardari said. “So I can give them something they want,” noted Asif Zardari, “that’s what politics is all about.”
According to the leaked cable, after an August 20 (2008) meeting with the visiting S/CT Coordinator Dell Dailey, General Kayani asked the ambassador to stay behind and discuss his concerns that Asif Zardari was delaying General Musharraf’s immunity bill. Kayani had heard the large meeting of coalition partners (chaired on August 19, 2008 by the newly returned Bilawal Bhutto) had discussed the judges primarily. Then they decided to take a 72-hour break to consult the party members.
General Kayani said he took Asif Zardari’s commitments to now ex-president Pervez Musharraf as the most important argument in persuading him to resign. Asif Zardari made very specific commitments to Kayani. Now, for Asif Zardari to delay makes him (Kayani) look bad within his own institution “and I have to take the Army along with me.” Kayani also noted that the delay does nothing for Zardari’s reputation for trustworthiness. If this issue gets conflated with the judges and with Zardari’s own desires to be president, it will become too complicated to pass, Kayani said.
The US ambassador met with Prime Minister Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik for 30 minutes on August 21, 2008. Gilani said the PPP was going to provide immunity to Musharraf, but the timing was important.
They were afraid that putting forward immunity legislation would lose them votes for Asif Zardari‘s presidential campaign. The ambassador pressed on this issue, saying that Musharraf would never have agreed to resign without the promise of immunity. He assured the ambassador that he and the party did not want vengeance. Regarding immunity, Gilani said “many will say that we have done a deal with America, but I still understand that we have to do it.”
Six years later, Gilani revealed on Friday that an understanding had been reached with the establishment that Musharraf would be given an honourable exit if he resigned, instead of going through impeachment proceedings.'
'ISLAMABAD: The public commitment made by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was not honoured on Tuesday when Asif Ali Zardari took oath of his office from Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, instead of Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry whom the martyred PPP leader had termed the "real chief justice of Pakistan".
After the imposition of emergency on November 3 by Pervez Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto had categorically rejected the elevation of Justice Dogar to the post of chief justice. She had declared in front of the official residence of Iftikar Chaudhry that he was the real CJ and if she returned to power she would hoist the national flag at his residence.
For many who saw a smiling Zardari taking oath from CJ Hameed Dogar, this was a breach of public promise made by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.There were unconfirmed reports that prior to swearing-in ceremony Zardari might ask the prime minister to restore the deposed chief justice.
The message given by Asif Zardari was quite clear - that the people and the media should now forget the defiant chief justice who had actually triggered the movement against Musharraf which enabled the exiled leaders like Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto, Shahbaz Sharif and even Asif Zardari to come back to Pakistan.
In exile, Benazir Bhutto was opposed to the judicial activism as she thought it might impede her return to Pakistan through NRO, particularly when Iftikhar Chaudhry had objected to such a law. That was why Benazir Bhutto had criticised Iftikar Chaudhry in her press conference, which she addressed a day before she landed in Pakistan on October 18 last year.
But once she returned to Pakistan she swiftly changed her position as she came to know the ground realities. The same Benazir Bhutto who had blasted Iftikar Chaudhry in her press conference in Dubai was seen leading a big political rally of her supporters to the house of the deposed chief justice. In her defiant and emotional speech, Ms Bhutto had told her workers that Iftikar Chaudhry was the real chief justice and that one day she would hoist the national flag on his residence. It is hoped that those who claim her legacy would fulfill her promise.'
'Widower Of Bhutto Takes Office In Pakistan', http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B05EEDC1731F933A2575AC0A96E9C8B63
'Mr. Zardari, 53, took the oath of office from Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, a controversial start to his rule because Mr. Dogar was appointed under an emergency decree by the former president, Pervez Musharraf, and has remained in place with Mr. Zardari's support.
The role of Mr. Dogar at the ceremony appeared to definitively signal that the former chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was fired twice by Mr. Musharraf, would not be invited back to his old job. Mr. Zardari has refused to reappoint Mr. Chaudhry despite pressure from his former coalition partner, Nawaz Sharif, who left the government over the issue.'