Prime Minister Zardari? President Sharif?

Posted on April 20, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

As one reads the news from Pakistan and looks at the picture below, one cannot but help wonder what are these three gentlemen thinking; about each other and also about their own future?

Asif Zardari Yousuf Gillani Nawaz Sharif

In a land where speculation replaces analysis and conspiracy outdoes strategy, word is ripe that the eventual “unsteady” state might be one where we have a Prime Minister named Asif Zardari and a President named Nawaz Sharif? Could that really happen? And what where would that leave Yousuf Raza Gillani? What does Gen. Kiyani have to say about any of this? And what about Gen. Musharraf? He seems to have been relegated for the moment to attending cricket matches and lighting Olympic torches but one cannot image that to be a permanent occupation for him.

Noises from Islamabad seem to suggest that the musical chairs view of Pakistan politics is becoming dominant again. With the bye-elections around the corner, this is only to be expected.

According to The News, “Asif Ali Zardari has announced that he will be taking part in the coming by-elections and, if need be, he can become the prime minister.” The way this and other news items are worded, one wonders exactly what is meant by “if need be”? However, when one reads and listens to the actual BBC Urdu interview with Asif Zardari it seems quite clear that he is NOT (at least, not yet) stating any intent to become Prime Minister.

Asif Zardari was, in this case, responding to a somewhat badgering interviewer who first asked if the Party Chairperson should become Prime Minister; at which Asif Zardari responded that no, this was not necessary. On a follow-up question he seems to say that the Party Chairperson could become Prime Minister without in anyway signaling his own intent to do so. In listening to the interview and how the questions were phrased, it is not clear to me whether he could or should have responded differently. This does not mean that a “Prime Minister Zardari” may not become a reality. It does mean that the current spate of headlines on this should be taken less seriously than I first too them.

Of course, Aitizaz Ahsan has also filed for a ticket for the bye-elections and – if given the ticket and elected – one has to wonder just what role the PPP woudl actually give him or he would take. His stature in Pakistan politics has changed greatly over the last year and it is notquite clear just how accomodating the PPP may be of this new stature and the expectations it raises.

Meanwhile, the ambitions are much more clear on the PML-N side. Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz are all ready to file their nomination papers and have made quite clear that once elected they will run the show – at least in the Punjab – directly. The issue, of course, is that at least Nawaz Sharif’s aspirations have to be greater than just the Punjab.

31 Comments on “Prime Minister Zardari? President Sharif?”

  1. Anwar says:
    April 20th, 2008 12:19 pm

    And so… so we thought we will outsmart uncle Sam! So far the script written in Washington is getting played to the finest details…

  2. faraz Waseem says:
    April 20th, 2008 12:27 pm

    Asif Zardari these days believe

    “Take it easy! There is enough for every one ”

    I think there are enough bones in foreign exchange, these guys can eats for 2-3 years but energy and food crisis will become worst in 2-3 years. In few years awam will be on roads again for change.

  3. bhitai says:
    April 20th, 2008 12:37 pm

    When Yusuf Raza Gilani was being sentenced by a judge for 10 years or so in jail, Asif Zardari agitated by yelling ‘you are sentencing the future *president* of Pakistan’.. This prophecy might come true if mr 10% wishes to become the next PM. Gilani will simply be ‘promoted’ as the President. Nawaz is not interested in the useless and impotent position of the President. In all likelihood, he’s waiting for the mid-term elections..

  4. Daktar says:
    April 20th, 2008 12:47 pm

    TO your question: “what are these three gentlemen thinking; about each other and also about their own future?”

    Asif Zardari is thinking: “Let them sit up there as long as I am calling the shots!”

    Nawaz Sharif is thinking: “Let him think he is calling the shots, as long as he does what I want him to do!”

    Yousuf Reza Gillani is thinking: “Yaar, kahan phanss gaya houn mein!”

  5. SAEED says:
    April 20th, 2008 1:20 pm

    Anwar, what are you talking about? What American plan?

    Just tbhrowibg out a baseless conspiracy theory is very Pakistani but not very useful. I guess its too easy to blame all our problems on these saazish ideas. Hum becharey Amreeka kay maarey!

  6. April 20th, 2008 2:28 pm

    The other one, who could be the next President is not in the picture; may be the deposed CJP.

  7. April 20th, 2008 2:42 pm

    A senior colleague, and someone whose political acumen I have great respect for, has alerted me to the original BBC Urdu interview from which Asif Zardari’s statement above has been derived. The original story in Urdu can be viewed here:
    http://tinyurl.com/3hbh3d
    The audio recording of the interview can be heard here:
    http://tinyurl.com/4avjp7

    In listening to the interview it is indeed clear that Asif Zardari is NOT saying what most Pakistani news report (and BBC Urdu’s own headline) seem to be suggesting. He was asked if the Party Chairman should automatically become Prime Minister; he responded that this was not necessary. He was then asked if this meant he was categorically promising that as Chairperson he would not become Prime Minister; and he responds that the Chairperson can become Prime Minister if needed. However, there is nothing in the tone or the substance of the interview that suggests that this was a statement of intent on his part. It seems much more of a case of a journalist wanting and “creating” a headline.

    Many have been impressed by the tone and substance of what Zardari has been saying and I continue to believe that he should be afforded every chance to prove that this new look is real and lasting. I certainly hope that it is.

    The discussion on whether he will or will not assume the Prime Ministerial office remains a real and important discussion, but on this one and now I think we need to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think that those in the media, and those like us who live off the media, should also do the same.

    (Some slight changes in the post have been made to reflect the above).

  8. SAEED says:
    April 20th, 2008 4:04 pm

    adil najam, thank you for that candid comment and assessment. I also just heard the interview and agreevwith you entirely.

  9. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    April 20th, 2008 5:26 pm

    @Adil Najam,

    angrezi ki pevandkari pay ma’azrat !!!

    Phansa howa ik Pir, jo”waqq’at” nehein rakhta, (value)
    Har aik ta’awiz ka wo ” gandah” nehein rakhta

    Bus, bakra ne ban ja’aiy, bechara Pir-e-Ghareeb,
    Qable-az-Eid, siyyatda’n kabhi, Roza nehien rakhta (?)

    Jab a’aiy ga samajh mein apki, meharba’n ” Mian”
    Keh ye Zalim to, mehaz, ten percent nehein rakhta

    Jooton mein ab bataiy gi daal, ai’y ma’soom awam,
    keh Feudal, apni dookanon pay, atta nehien rakhta
    Rafay Kashmiri

  10. ShahidnUSA says:
    April 20th, 2008 6:18 pm

    I dont think Pakistani Prime ministry is such a La La land that any person with little sense would salivate for,
    unless you have biggest ego in the world
    or you have no respect for you privacy
    or you wont mind living off the foriegn aid while so many other greedy eyes after it,
    or you are a thick skin and dont mind to rule while economy is a disaster,
    or you dont care the crazy comments, speculations, nonsense conspiracy theories,
    or meeting the foriegn dignitories, who are more alliquent, articulate and speak better english than you
    or able to turn a blind eye on terrorist activities
    or have a magic wand to kill the illetracy overnight,
    or able to avoid the wishes for the religious revolution.

    I think I have more freedom in the world to comment whatever I want unless it is trimmed respectfully. :)

  11. Mus says:
    April 20th, 2008 9:17 pm

    So far Asif Zardari has pleasantly surprised everyone.He is doing what BB would never have done,talk to colleagues and other party leaders.You don’t see her arrogance in him,thats one good thing about him.
    Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari together have brought about a wonderfully pleasant change,a breath of fresh air into the country after the awful last year that we had.

  12. Fahd says:
    April 21st, 2008 12:36 am

    The media is trying to make a story when there is none. Thank you for calling their bluff.

  13. Ed says:
    April 21st, 2008 1:34 am

    I think we’ve come to a point where we should stop wondering what the Generals think. They’ve had their limelight and it’s about time we give them the shoulder.

    I cant wait for the day that our Generals do what they’re supposed to do – wait for instructions.

  14. April 21st, 2008 4:06 am

    It’s all hypothetical ! Islamabad is always a ‘city of all kinds of rumours’. Sherry Rehman has already denied these remarks. Even if he is a prime minister hopeful then I think PM Gilani should have been confidentially told so before taking oath as the country’s PM. As far as NS is concerned, a post without 58-2b and other existing powers, will not atract him anyway. He does not seem to be in a hurry, only waiting for the right opportunity.

    Adil Najam, you are also right about the present incumbant, what surprises are in store for us, GOD only knows !

  15. April 21st, 2008 4:28 am

    To Ed,

    What you said is every one’s wish too and politicians and the civil society must strive in making them do what they are supposed to do but you must have heard ‘chut’ti nahin hay moonh se a kafir lagi hui’.

  16. April 21st, 2008 6:02 am

    It is unfortunate that the high offices of the land have no sanctity. Any one can hope to become PM or the president. Mr. 10% of yesterday is the Mr. Clean of today.

  17. faraz Waseem says:
    April 21st, 2008 11:42 am

    Nasir Jamal what about bhogora. Is he not a convicted kidnapper by supreme court of Pakistan?

  18. April 21st, 2008 5:01 pm

    ATP Friends,

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it seems Zardari is playing a dangerous game once again with the judges issue hence the deadlock Such dangerous flirtations are dangerous, see useful link for another view below:

    http://tinyurl.com/4jnejh

    Feimanallah

    Wasim

  19. Lal Salaam says:
    April 21st, 2008 7:09 pm

    We gave 11 years to Zia, and 8 long years to Musharraf! and we are not willing to wait even a few days for the political parties! For God’s sake, patience, guys, patience.

  20. Hassan says:
    April 21st, 2008 7:10 pm

    I hope that we can finally get some stability.. we certainly need it.

  21. Qureshj says:
    April 23rd, 2008 10:34 am

    I am more and more convinced that Zardari is NOT going to become PM and will play the Sonia Gandhi role in Pakistan.

  22. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    April 23rd, 2008 12:41 pm

    Mera sunder Sapnah toot Gaya,
    Mein Zia kay zamnay mein ai thi,
    Wo Ashraffi saghar toot gaya,
    Wo jawani meri rothe ga’i,
    Hunsnay ka behana chott gaya,
    Aur ” Lala Salaam Gul “,
    Bhutto ka Zamanah bhool gaya
    Mera sunder sapna……………………….

  23. Salim says:
    April 23rd, 2008 3:24 pm

    Lal Salaam sahib PMship twice each is not enough time?
    There is a saying about bent dog tails and another one about ropes burnt but still twisted. My prediction is Zardari will accumulate even more ZAR this time. Sharif will be even less Sharif this time.If you look close it is already apparent from their shennigans.

  24. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    April 30th, 2008 6:16 pm

    @ Once upon a time there was a Chief Justice
    of Pakistan, Iftikhar….something !!
    and there were Pir Mian Zarbhutts defending him,
    then the funny song on you tube :

    Lara lappa, Lara lappa laie Rakhdah,
    Addi tappa addi tappa laie Rakhdah

    aur uskay ba’ad, Kahani khatam !!!!

  25. Steve says:
    May 15th, 2008 4:35 am

    Heres what can happen…MARSHAL LAW…I think Musharraf should just get off his chair..call Marshal Law…and take control of everything.

    Everyone in Pakistan wants to be in the picture…Asif, Nawaz, Shahbaz, Aitizaz and God only knows whoelse..lol…everything is out of control….everyone wants to be right..and look who is suffering…the People of Pakistan. I think we have made a mistake..we have allow this to happen, we have asked for Mushrraf to lose all his powers and now see what happen, everyone wants to be the law and no one gives a shit. When we had Mushrraf everything was okie..we had a future….we could help out..hes a great man and would listen to everyone.

    Once we had a dream…no….we cant even see a foot away from us…..

  26. shahid says:
    May 16th, 2008 10:21 pm

    Speculations abound but lets look at the real picture. Right now the Pakistani ground is set for three persons only, Musharaf, Zardari and Nawaz.
    Pervez Musharaf has batted his innings very carefully till date except one or two loose balls which he tried to pull out of ground e.g the chief justice issue and the circumstances following the chief justice’s removal. (no big deal). Because musharaf knows how to drive the ball.
    I am not trying to defend musharaf and I hate him like any other person might be hating him but facts are facts whether anyone likes it or not.
    Musharaf has been in total control of the situation since late 2005 when he decided to do away with the chaudary brothers and was about to sack the government when the azad kashmir was hit by an earthquake. Chaudaries were being blamed for smuggling sugar, wheat and banaspati ghee produced by their mills to india and other countries.
    Don’t forget the fortune which chaudries have amassed nothing to be compared with the corruption of the past PPP and nawaz sharif governments.
    Parvez musharf himself is a partner to this corruption by giving a total control of the central and provincial Punjab and Balouchistan governments to Muslim league (Q).
    Another factor that consolidated pervez mushraf government is the consolidation of corruption in army. Since 1998 army is enjoying in Pakistan like hell.
    General’s like moin-ud-din haider and Khalid Maqbool were the think tanks for musharaf and these generals by their stupid thinking and crazy imagination created NRB and NAB and other stupid institutions which crashed the basic infrastructure of Pakistan. Through abolishing the bureaucratic system of government and establishing the local government system corruption has become more rampant and the control has gone from the Provincial assembly to the street level where thugs like mian amer mehmood have prospered with impunity.
    This so called creative thinking by the stupid generals has created total chaos in the country and chaos is the “raspberry juice” for musharf. Army is the sole “land mafia” in Pakistan and every army officer right from major upwards owns atleast two plots in some posh residential society in Lahore, Islamabad or Karachi. Not to mention the number of posts on which the army officers have been appointed and will remain appointed irrespective who is in power.
    Musharaf entered into dialogs with Benazir in Dubai and London and succeeded in bringing Benazir back to Pakistan because musharaf was up to his neck with muslim league (Q) and chaudari brothers knew this.
    Nawaz sharif a progeny of the military rule comes back to Pakistan and was treated as hell on the airport and bundled back from the country when the supreme court of Pakistan with chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudary as its head had already given a green signal to Nawaz Sharif.
    Nothing could stop pervez musharaf because he knew that the supreme court was not going to take “suo moto” action on extradition of Nawaz Sharif as the chief justice was under too much pressure and that is what happened. Sharif weeping like a school boy was sent back to Saudi Arabia. One thing really amused me on his extradition when at the airport he was being dragged by the Punjab police, Sharif started shouting at them that ” I am the ex-prime minister of Pakistan and I will see you”.
    Sharif probably forgot that as you shall sow so shall you reap. He ousted the chief justice of Pakistan Syed Sajjad Ali shah, the supreme court of Pakistan was ransacked by “jealas” and he asked Altaf Gohar that “can you tell me how can I put this chief justice in prison for one night”.
    Imagine this sordid state of affairs. The stage was set by Nawaz Sharif to decimate the supreme court of Pakistan, what pervez mushraf did with chaudary iftikhar is nothing astonishing. In the later case atleast mushraf had the courtesy to take action against the chief justice in accordance with the law or something sugar coated with the law.
    Where was aitzaz ahsan when chief justice syed sajjad ali shah was being subjected to the worst personal vendetta by the Pakistani prime minister ?
    It leaves me wondering that how the same Nawaz Sharif is fighting for the sole cause of reinstating the ousted chief justice ( sharam magar tum ko nahin aati).
    Zardari would never dreamt the position in which he in right now. I must say that threat to Benazir’s life was there but there were no signs that she’ll be murdered so brutally and in such a short span. After one attack she was to be killed in the second. Where was her security adviser mr. Rehman Malik ? another character on stage right now. A corrupt FIA officer who was thrown out from his job like a rotten egg by Nawaz Sharif.
    Same is the case with Nawaz Sharif. Did nawaz sharif ever dreamt that he’ll be allowed to go back to Pakistan. I don’t think so. It was Benazir who went against mushraf and mushraf had another card to play. If it was a chaos with Benazir then why not a total chaos with sharif brothers. One day mushraf visits Saudi Arabia and the very next day sharif brothers were allowed to come back to Pakistan.
    It was an intelligent tutoring to mushraf but he never agreed with this in principal. Might be a hasty decision but this was the only way to check Benazir.
    After the gruesome murder of Benazir nobody knew what to do. Mushraf was baffled and Nawaz sharif was making so stupid decisions running to and fro announcing boycotting elections one day and contesting elections the next day. Till some one might have told him to sit down and start behaving.
    Asif Zardari appears as a new pawn on the set stage. Zardari had nothing to offer, all he was doing trying to “cash” Benazir which he could not. Election results speak.
    No one knew that Nawaz Sharif was holding such a big vote bank in Punjab. The election results flabbergasted the biggest political pundits. Nawaz at last made a stage back but how to stay in this political arena. Only through the cause of reinstating the supreme court judges that is what his political tutors told him.
    Mushraf knew that he can take care of Asif Zardari and that is what he did. He asked the courts of Pakistan to take all cases back and now Zardari is a free man. For a person who has been jailed continuously for 11 years and all of a sudden setting him free from all allegations isn’t it a wonder ?.
    Asif ofcourse, has to pay back mushraf and he is paying in a real cool way. He is working with mushraf. Before elections he joined hands with Nawaz and proceeded with Muree sumjotha but right after the election results when he saw that PPP can form government in the center and Punjab with the help of PML (Q) , MQM and ANP he backed out from the judge’s issue, because he never liked Iftikhar Chaudary who refused to hear his case on the pretext that he still had to read about his case. It was Mr. Naik who finally came to his rescue and bailed him out. Iftikhar Chaudary might have given hard time to zardari but right now if the chief justice of supreme court of Pakistan is reinstated then there is going to be real trouble for Mushraf.
    Iftikhar chaudary is the only person who poses threat to pervez mushraf and mushraf is really afraid of him. He has taken all steps to keep him away from the supreme court with a cast iron assurance from zardari. In return PPP is being rewarded by having their own person Salman Taseer appointed as Governor of Punjab. A check for Sharif Brothers who are dreaming of forming their government in the center as well.
    Mushraf knows how to manipulate the pawns and he is playing excellently. Nawaz is looking for taking his revenge from mushraf through reinstating the chief justice, zardari has nothing in particular against mushraf so why should he anchor with nawaz (no point in it).
    Nawaz has been granted a green signal to contest the National elections as member National Assembly and his brother Shahbaz as a provincial assembly member.( a check for PPP).
    Isn’t the whole situation a jigsaw puzzle ?.

    Mushraf is manipulating the entire game with only one reason in mind how to get out of this situation gracefully.
    As they say zero plus zero is equal to zero so nawaz+zardari+gilani have not enough water to drown mushraf, except one person “Iftikhar Chaudary” . Wait for the day when iftikhar will be permanently wiped out from the supreme court by a resolution being brought by the PPP and mushraf feels safe.
    Yusuf Gilani will continue to be the prime minister and Nawaz sharif will be a member national assembly, zardari will keep his low profile till General Ashfaq Kiyani takes over within one to one and a half year.

  27. Malik says:
    August 25th, 2008 11:06 pm

    This may still happen, maybe the other way round.

  28. abdullah says:
    August 26th, 2008 5:33 am

    Everybody got the answer !!! Musharaf left (a real dare devil) no one can think of taking him to the court. Then there are vultures in the arena.
    Zardari (the evil Gid) , what ever anyone can say about this moron is less. He is a shame less idiot and a GUNDA. Now he is going to be the next President of Pakistan. Just imagine a mere matriculate from St. Patrick’s High school, Karachi, mr 10% who looted Pakistan for trillions of dollars is now contesting for the presidential slot. His sister Faryal Talpur is the covering candidate.
    Nawaz Sharif !! this brainless idiot is the dumbest **shole on this earth. Instead of maintaining his own identity he was continuously inserting his head in zardari’s **s. He hardly knows what to do.
    so zero +zero=zero.
    I am waiting when Kiyani hops in. Which he should do before Decemcer, 2008.

  29. Naveed says:
    August 28th, 2008 4:24 pm
  30. Junaid says:
    September 6th, 2008 1:04 am

    I guess you got half of it right and in reverse order. Maybe the other half will also come true!

  31. Ghaus Elahi says:
    September 6th, 2008 11:28 am

    Impressed that this was written in April!

    You were close. Its PRESIDENT ZARDARI. But no chance of a Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yet!

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