Is Yousuf Raza Gillani On His Way Out?

Posted on August 3, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

Prime Minister Pakistan GillaniFirst, let me by absolutely upfront and clear. I do not know if Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani is going to be replaced. That is the whole point, I do not know. But, I would very much like to know. Hence, the question mark at the end.

So, please, all rumor-mill mongers, lets not make this into anything more than it is. The rumors I am hearing are exactly the same one that you are hearing. What worries me is that I am hearing them more and more. If they are just rumors, what is the significance of their spreading so fast and furious now? And if they turn out to be more than just rumors, what would that mean for Pakistan?

There is something, of course, in the timing of all of this.

The Prime Minister’s domestic performance has left a trail of embarrassments. The problems of high energy and food prices cannot be laid on his door, but have not helped. A fiasco-ridden first television address to the nation may end hurting PTV’s new management but it has hurt the Prime Minister even more.

The Prime Minister’s international sojourns have been no less spectacular, and possibly more worrisome. An much-touted but uninspiring US trip ended with the US accusing Pakistani ISI to have had a hand in a horrible Kabul bombing on the Indian Embassy. A possibly more important meeting with the Indian Prime Minister at the SAARC summit was preceeded with a statement from India that Pakistan-India relations are now (because of the same bombing) at a recent low.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza GillaniPakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza GillaniPakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza GillaniPakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza GillaniPakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza GillaniPakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani

Having met and heard him speak recently, I can say that one-to-one he comes across as a man full of Southern-Punjab charm and affection, but he really is not someone known for Obama-like oratory. One senses, however, that it is not a lack of oratory skills that he is being grilled for by his critics.

Noises in the air have begun to grow. Writing in The News before the Prime Minister’s US trip, senior journalist Shaheen Sehbai suggested:

For the PPP, the only option left is for Zardari to come back to Pakistan, if he can get over his family problems quickly. He must head for the PM House, get himself elected and assume the charge as PM because Yousuf Raza Gilani cannot deliver anything nor can he be blamed for not doing so.

Upon his return from the trip, Mr. Sehbai’s assessment was even harsher: “the man who represented democracy in Pakistan fell short on many scores.”

Washington was not ready for such a visit and whoever forced it on Gilani did a great disservice to the man, to the party he represents and to Pakistan’s infant democracy. At a time of great internal political, administrative, security, economic and social turmoil, packing him off to Washington as a showpiece, so early in office, could at best be described as a deep conspiracy of sorts.

The prime minister was not ready for the visit as he has yet to learn the basics of the governance, starting with speaking before the TV prompter to the nation, to determining how to handle big or small issues, how to consolidate power and how to demonstrate it. He is only a beginner.

The very independent, but generally sympathetic to PPP, columnist Khalid Hassan’s comments in the Daily Times were even more scathing:

With the uncertainty prevailing at home, the coalition, a partnership in name only, the judges issue still hanging in the air and with the NWFP and adjacent areas slipping out of state control, Gilani should have stayed home and only come when things had settled down. No one in Washington has any illusions about Pakistan, nor people here are unaware of where power lies. It is known that the prime minister exercises little authority and all decisions are taken by others.

There are, of course, others – including in a Daily Times editorial that seemed to be rebutting a column in its own pages – who think that the criticism of the Prime Minister’s visit to the US is overblown. Indeed, it may well be.

What is clear, however, is that it is not just the USA visit, or just the PTV speech fiasco, or just any other single thing. It is all these things and more that are keeping people from having faith in the leadership of Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani.

The real charge, it seems, is that he really is not in-charge and may be asserting even less leadership than he is being allowed to. As one commenter in our recent ATP Poll on this subject suggested: “Yousuf Reza Gillani is to Asif Ali Zardari what Fazal Elahi Chaudhry was to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.” That itself may be a bum rap, but as other readers pointed out, what was most striking – disturbingly so – in the results of the poll was that after 7 days of polling and 411 votes case, not a single reader voted for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani.

Prime Minister Pakistan GillaniIn all the polls that we have conducted at ATP, this has to be teh single most surprising and striking result. What is surprising and striking is not that people do not think that the Prime Minister is truly in-charge of the country. That is not news. But what is striking and surprising is that not even a single person voted in this poll for him.

Of course, our Polls are not a scientific sample. But, although this sample represents all the biases of the select group that visits this blog, it is nonetheless a political diverse community (just read the comments on any political post) and there is nearly never a unanimity on anything. To see such unanimity on Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani is, therefore, noteworthy. One would have expected that maybe he would get a few sympathy votes, or votes from a few die-hard PPP supporters, or from those who keep leaving messages (sometimes asking for jobs) on our earlier post on him. But, no, not a single vote was recorded for him! (Even the proposition, in an earlier poll, that Gen. Musharraf would not be able to get himself elected President got 3 percent of the vote!).

For those who wish to see a stable working democracy evolve in Pakistan the image of a Prime Minister who no one thinks has any power is sad and disturbing. There is clearly something that is leading to more and more people asking: “Is Yousuf Raza Gillani on his way out?” But why is the chorus around this question growing now?

Is it because there are dark and sinister forces who are purposefully creating such an impression? Is it because he really was a bad choice and therefore should be replaced? Is it because we as a people are too impatient and have not really given him a chance to settle into the job? Is it because PPP is now ready for an internal change and all of this is in preparation for that? Or is it because (as 39 percent of our Poll respondents felt) no one is really in-charge of Pakistan and this is just a manifestation of the country spiraling further into chaos?

The sad fact is that in Pakistan today, any and all of the above is possible.

53 Comments on “Is Yousuf Raza Gillani On His Way Out?”

  1. Ali Dada says:
    August 3rd, 2008 10:42 pm

    Among Pakistanis today, there is a depressive attitude prevailing among our media and intellects.

    Zardari won’t be coming back to Pakistan especially to lead as a PM. I am sure part of the deal he signed to clear his name in the eyes of law must have been that he won’t become the PM or something like that. Else why would he continue to stay in Dubai? The guy is in power of his party, he has decent income, has a good and safe life in Dubai, so why come back to Pakistan for?

    Yousuf Raza Gillani might not be much of a talker but that doesn’t mean he is not the PM of Pakistan. In my eyes, atleast we have someone decent acting and decent looking to call our PM.

    Right now, democracy in Pakistan is in its starting state. I kinda understand President Musharraf’s position too now. The guy, believe it or not, is just there to ensure democracy thrives in Pakistan. Just read his statements, he WANTS the currently elected leaders to complete their terms and if he has any powers left – Inshallah that will happen.

    Forget how the next 10-15 years are for Pakistan. We will definitely see some poor leaderships and lots of confusion. However, if the next 10-15 years our democracy ensures that those elected complete their terms and military stays out of the office, it is only then those who are corrupt will be held accountable and public will see the reality of it all.

    It is high time Pakistanis realize that our country just made a huge change … change of Government type. When the mighty Russia (after USSR) changed from being communist to democratic, it took 15 years or so before their economy started rising again and their foreign policy strengthened. Same thing with Romania – the country’s economy was worst performing in the World for around 10 years after communism but democracy thrived and couple of years back, their economy started to give out positive results.

    Have patience and pray my brethren.

  2. M Asif says:
    August 3rd, 2008 10:47 pm

    It is about time somebody broached the subject. We need someone is more than just a nice guy. We need someone like a Mahmood Ahmedinejad and Shah Mahmood Qureshi rolled into one person who is aggressive, eloquent and absolutely sure of himself. Not sure if PK can produce a Ahmedinejad but Qureshi seems a much more energetic, intelligent and suave person. It is a plus that he is a real presence.

    With regards from Newton,MA

  3. Junaid says:
    August 3rd, 2008 11:54 pm

    my vote for shah mahmood qureshi..
    i must say zardari should learn bynow that gerainism wont work at that level..

  4. August 4th, 2008 1:03 am

    Well for one – I think the question should be, is the govt on the way out – Gilani, though elected never had control whatsoever – hes a puppet obeying orders. Keeping the seat warm if Zardari ever wanted to sneak in – Zardari needed a yes- sir stooge who would roll over play dead whenever he needed to capture the Prime Minister’s seat – and my my he seriously choose the right man for the job. Does not know crap – and I bet if we have him any longer we could soon open a book on Gillan-ism’s featureing right next to the mile long Bush-ism’s

    In my opinion we have seen a worse prime minister in 2004 in the form of Ch Shujaat – ;) Lets thank our stars that he did not open his blubbering-muttering-stumbling mouth in Angrezi. That would have been !!! Saturday Night Live !!!

  5. faisal says:
    August 4th, 2008 1:03 am

    I always thought we need someone like Putin. A strong head of state of does not take BS from anyone. That is why I Musaharf always inspired me. He made big decisions in the interest of Pakistan no matter the outcome. I don’t expect any politician to show that much of spine.

    If Zardari wants to be the guy in power than he needs to come to the fore and be that guy.

    You can not blame YRG for not showing the leadership. Our political parties are not structured to groom people into leadership roles. How could anyone expect alternative leadership from a party where Chairpersons and Chairmans (Co-Chairmans) are selected and willed for the lifetime?

  6. Riaz Haq says:
    August 4th, 2008 1:07 am

    Oratory aside, Prime Minister Gilani seemed to be very puerile and robotic in his repetitive, substance-free, responses delivered in shaky English (Pinglish?) to the American audience. He is definitely not ready for prime-time and I doubt if he’ll ever be. He reminded me of Zafarullah Khan Jamali and his visit to the White House. Gilani is a far cry from the urbane and sophisticated Shaukat Aziz or charismatic , celebrity-like Benazir Bhutto. At a difficult time like this, Pakistan needs a really inspiring leader and an effective salesperson to sell the Americans and the world on why Pakistan deserves to be considered a good friend, a moderate, progressive nation, and a reliable partner for world peace. I think the PM’s visit here was a wasted opportunity.
    I felt more pity and embarrassment than pride in watching Mr. Gilani’s mediocre performance.

  7. Mansoor says:
    August 4th, 2008 1:14 am

    If Gillani is not even using the extent of power that he is ‘allowed’ to use then it has to be mere INCOMPETENCE. A man of vision (even a man of sound political ambition) would seize the chance and go all out to do things that would benefit the country and hold him in good stead in future. Would PPP (read Zardari) have been able to fire/replace him for ‘doing things right’!?!?!?! I think not.

    One must not be afraid of getting replaced. Junejo asserted his power and was replaced by Zia for doing that. In th end he earned respect for all.

  8. Afsandyar Alam says:
    August 4th, 2008 1:15 am

    This is a balanced article. You are right that some of the criticism is overblown. Also some of this is propaganda against him. But I think the statements from Shaheen Sehbai who is very close to Zardari show that Zardari himself is going to kick out Gillani and maybe take the PM position himself now.

  9. Rasheed says:
    August 4th, 2008 1:19 am

    I didn’t know about your poll. Count my lone vote for Gilani. He’s not the most articulate. But don’t compare him with Obama’s speeches. Obama almost always reads from a teleprompter – can’t understand why he has to – a professor shouldn’t have to read his speeches, so I, for one, think that he is not all that articulate. About the US trip, I don’t think Gilani was that bad. He was speaking somone else’s tongue and wasn’t prepared by the advisers. I think way too many Pakistanis have learned the masters’ tongue through the bad habit of mixing it with Urdu to the point that when someone speaks so-so English, it comes across as really bad. As to which forces are acting behind the scenes to spread these rumours, can’t say, but could it have to do with Gilani having boldly talked Pakistan’s “sovereign-i-ty” :) in the face of America in a televised interview regarding the predator drone attack? (not an obedient servant) Call me crazy, but one solution is to get Nawaz Sharif (leadership experience) or Itizaz Ahsan (spine), or even Imran Khan (articulate and much spine, even as president) to lead the nation IF and only IF Gilani has to leave. This in response to the poster who wants someone who’s more sure of oneself like Ahmadinejad. Zardari doesn’t make any sense to me. If being a previous leader’s relative has to be the main credential to succeed, then good luck to Pakistan’s democracy. Also, could someone please evict that foreign/CIA agent from the presidential palace. BTW, what’s the deal with Aafia Siddiqui (?), the woman scientist still in custody? – what do they mean by “found alive” – wasn’t she held all along? Seems like Umreeka is going after Pakistan on all-fours. I know Pakistanis have been forced or lulled into subservience and oblivion by Uncle Sam and they will always love and trust Umreeka, no matter how much anger or jest he throws at Pakistan. Remember the thing the neocons like Rumsfeld said about Iraqis — that when we bomb them they’ll respond by bringing us flowers — turned out to be false and stupid in the case of Iraq, but If (Na’oozubillah) Pakistan is attacked by Umreeka (likely in the near future), I wouldn’t be much surprised by such a claim by the McCain or Obama administration. ….. Please don’t delete this awkward looking message – my return key is stuck – and also this is the only yes vote :) .

  10. Steve says:
    August 4th, 2008 1:28 am

    Can we please have Mr. Mushrraf back……before all hell breaks loose…

  11. auk says:
    August 4th, 2008 1:37 am

    Steve, Can you please explain who you are and why would you care?

  12. Eidee Man says:
    August 4th, 2008 1:53 am

    I must say that this is very disappointing behavior from Adil Najam. Adil, this goes right next to your jumping the gun forecasting about who would lead PPP even before anything had been announced.

    “Is it because there are dark and sinister forces who are purposefully creating such an impression?”

    This gem of yours is utterly laughable. This is exactly what Fox News does here in the U.S. They say what they want to say by posing it as a rhetorical questions.

    As far as his performance on the economy is concerned, are you that naive to think that Gilani the prophet has the ability to guide Pakistan out of a 15 years of disastrous mismanagement, and that too in the midst of weekly suicide bombings, trouble on two borders, and a truly global economic downturn. Have you bothered to check how much the Chinese, Indian, and American indices have fallen since the beginning of this year?

    Judging a leader’s worth by his obedience to his American masters, or his ability to read a prompter can perhaps accelerate a few academic careers, but such analysis ultimately has no worth.

    Am I completely satisfied with the way government is operating, and further, with Gilani’s communication and personal abilities? No, not as much as I’d like to be. But to extrapolate that to the level you have is extremely irresponsible. Do I think he’s not going to be taken off the PM seat anytime soon? No, it’s not my place to speculate.

    This post, and the revelatory comments, highlight once again the fact that the urban elite simply does not want to see the PPP in power; they gave Musharraf a good 6-7 years before they started speaking against him. Unfortunately, they think a democratic government does not even deserve 6 months.

    Also, the ATP polls are not relevant at all, on any topic, I’m afraid. Polling a group of people who were, with very few exceptions, against the very idea of elections in the first place, has to be the mother of all ironies.

  13. Anwar says:
    August 4th, 2008 2:39 am

    Dear Eidee Man, maybe its you who is jumping the gun and acting like Fox News. Otherwise you would have given the context and added that the list of questions also includes “Is it because we as a people are too impatient and have not really given him a chance to settle into the job?” You would also have been honest enough to say that the post is actually saying that it is unfair to judge YRG on his speaking skills.

    Also, yaar, I recall that Adil Najam turned out to be correct in forecasting who would be in the new PPP leadership with Bilawal and Zardari. Maybe he knows something on the inside here too?

  14. Uzma says:
    August 4th, 2008 2:40 am

    I actually feel sorry for bechaarey Gillani Shaib. Even more sorry than I did for Shaukat Aziz. He seems like a decent man caught in a job that is beyond him and answering to so many masters that he does not even know what to do.

  15. Hamza says:
    August 4th, 2008 2:46 am

    Very well written and balanced piece. This whole saga is good for no one. I think it really is that no one is running Pakistan and everyone – Musharraf, Zardari, military, and even America – have lost control and we are in free fall. Poor Mr. Gllani is just caught in the cross fire.

    I agree with Adil that it is unfair to judge the Prime Minister for oratory as some Pakistani journalists are doing. But I think the bigger problem is not that he does not speak well but that he seems to have noting sensible to say, probably because he is not in the picture on what is really happening in the country.

  16. Afsandyar Alam says:
    August 4th, 2008 2:52 am

    Adil, if you were to make your ending paragraph into a poll, I would probably vote for the option that PEOPLE ARE TOO IMPATIENT.

  17. Hamza says:
    August 4th, 2008 2:59 am

    The most important question asked in the post is about what his removal will mean for Pakistan. I think it will be really bad, no matter who replaces him. I say he should stay despite all his failings. Either he will learn over time and become better or we will learn over time and elect better people next time.

  18. Aqil Sajjad says:
    August 4th, 2008 5:04 am

    I don’t think it will make much difference either way. Everyone knows that Gillani was made PM for the very reason that he would be like Jamali while Zardari ran the show. For now, I don’t see any reason why Zardari is going to replace him, and even if he does, the replacement will just be another nobody so it won’t change anything.

    However, in case the whole government gets toppled, that’s a totally different thing. But I am not sure that’s imminent, provided Zardari and Rehman Malik do not shoot themselves in the foot by continuing to act like idiots. The ISI fiasco, for instance, is a classical example of what the PPP government needs to avoid in order to commit suicide. Instead, it needs to focus on providing better governance and building up its credibility so that its opponents don’t get a lot of opportunities to strike. Presently, this government seems to be on the path of self-destruction. I hope the PPP soon gets its act together, otherwise not only this government, but democrasy itself will receive a major set back.

  19. Steve says:
    August 4th, 2008 5:17 am

    Firstly, I don’t think anyone should be given time on account of the people of Pakistan, this is a country not an organization, people are losing money and the poor are suffering, so why should any be given time, when they wanted to come into power they said a lot…100 days they needed, that is what we gave them and till not nothing has happen, they only thing that has happened, happened for the worst, food prices are gone up, petrol is gone up, housing is gone up , the only thing that has come down..and to a record the Stock Market.

    To Mr. AUK, this is not a site to introduce we are, but yes, why we care, cause we are all Pakistanis, I had two business there and have shut them down because its not feesable to run a business in Karachi, I have two homes which are rented out to people living who can’t pay the monthly rent. Why I care, is cause I want the government to do something and so something NOW!!…not travel outside Pakistan for meetings with foreign leaders who don’t care about Us ( The people of Pakistan ), I want these leaders to stay in Pakistan and solve the problem we are facing in this country, not live in Dubai where they are enjoying life and leaving us to suffer…I mean come on…people around us are doing so damn well…why can’t they give us that opportunity. I have an office in Dubai and have already met 7 Pakistanis who have moved business from there to Dubai…so this is not right, Pakistan is a great land and has great people who can bring it up, why can’t these people see that…

  20. Aqil Sajjad says:
    August 4th, 2008 5:58 am

    Eidee man yar:
    I usually really like your posts, but what happens to you when the subject is the PPP? You become very angry and totally start ignoring facts.

    “I must say that this is very disappointing behavior from Adil Najam. Adil, this goes right next to your jumping the gun forecasting about who would lead PPP even before anything had been announced.”

    Are you against indulging in polls on ‘what’s about to happen’ type of questions in principle, or is it just the PPP?

    With reference to

  21. Me says:
    August 4th, 2008 6:08 am

    Sorry but Gillani has no leadership qualities.He does everything,whatever zardari tells him to do.

  22. Pakistani says:
    August 4th, 2008 6:17 am

    People who are shouting that we should give mr.gillani some time are over-optimistic.Leadership qualities are evident from the day one a leader takes the charge and gillani say bahtar to shaukat aziz tha..

  23. Aqil Sajjad says:
    August 4th, 2008 6:20 am

    The present economic crisis did not come out of nowhere; it could be predicted at least 2 years back that our economic momentum was not sustainable. Right now, you are expressing your frustration and want the government to do something right away (which is a bit unrealistic), but were you raising your concerns two years back? Were you pointing out that Pakistan’s excessive trade deficit would trigger a serious crisis soon? Or that our low saving rate would prevent us from continuing to grow rapidly? Or were you just praising the Musharraf govt on the economy without looking at the fundamentals closely enough?

    Why should you complain that our stock markets are going down and blame the present govt? When most of our stock market activity is speculative, what else should one expect when a serious trade deficit puts the currency under pressure? As a businessman, were you raising your voice for reforming the stock market and reducing speculative activity when Shaukat Aziz used to boast about it?

    Also, since you are a businessman, you should also have some ideas on what needs to be done to address the present crisis. Why not bring them forward?

  24. Reza Kamran says:
    August 4th, 2008 7:17 am

    His performance at the CFR was an unmitigated disaster. He was clueless about the questions that were being posed by his savvy host Richard Haass. His answers were vague, opaque, irrelevant and was much fodder for amusement and ridicule.

  25. Steve says:
    August 4th, 2008 7:40 am

    Aqil Sajjad
    You are absoultly right in what you say. Honestly, I am not praising the Mushraff Government but I can say that things were better off then. I mean, look at the problems now, we have to close our business just because of the strikes and what not.

    I do understand what your saying, but two years back a lot could have been done, now what can one do, I have made suggestions to various groups but the question is how long will it take for us to see a long can we hang around with this Government, come August, if the judges are not re-instated I can’t even imagine what is going to happen.

    Honestly, it is not realistic for change to happen NOW, its not a difficult task, Dubai does it, and its such a multi-cultural city, you make rules people should follow it immediatly.

    If you are into the economy news you would know that major investments were made from the Middle Eastern Countries, but where has all that gone..? I hear its been pull out or freezed, which is normal for that to happen.

    I don’t mind putting my ideas forward, can you advise me where I can do this…apart from the Ministry of Economy..? Tell me where I can go to make a difference, tell me who do I speak to, tell me who will listen and I will do just that, I have tried but nothing has happened, its easy to question me, but why not you, me and more people do something about it… Your suggestions..?

  26. MQ says:
    August 4th, 2008 8:27 am

    On this blog, since its inception, most of the posts and commenters have been for democracy and against dictatorship in Pakistan. Now that we have truly elected governments both at the center and the provinces — and it has been only 3 months — we have lost patience with democracy. Sometime it seems we have already started missing the “uniform”.

    Democracy is never efficient, nor pretty. It’s always slow and messy. But it is the only sustainable form of governance.

    True, too many mistakes and faux pas are being made by the current government on daily basis. Gilani’s performance has been less than satisfactory. But the only way to change a democratic government is either through a vote of no-confidence or elections. (There is an another way, too. But we have tried it 4 times in the past and it didn’t work. )

    Criticize the government for its failings, yes. But hope that someone would topple it, No.

  27. Democrat says:
    August 4th, 2008 9:30 am

    Dear MQ and Adil Najam, I also worry about what this means for democracy and I agree that democracy is messy and we must give it a chance.

    The question is whether it is better for Pakistan’s democracy to let Mr. Gillani continue as President and then become source of ridicule by outsiders but also by martial law supporters and ISI types who will use every opportunity to make the claim that the military should be brought back because this is what democracy has given us.

    Or is it better for the ruling party to itself learn from the mistake and appoint a new Prime Minister from within the parliament. That happens in democracies everywhere.

    I think the second is far far better option.

    Remember, people voted for PPP in power, not for YRG for Prime Minister. That was the party’s decision and now democracy demands that the party brings in someone else more competent for the job. That would be true democracy.

  28. MQ says:
    August 4th, 2008 9:36 am


    Yes, changing the prime minister by the party itself is also democratic (it is a no-confidence by the party). Margret Thatcher was removed in a similar fashion. But, let’s not start remembering the “good old days”, because they were not really good.

  29. lidaliqa says:
    August 4th, 2008 11:06 am

    Gillani can be someone’s uncle but no the PM of our nation.
    Matter of fact he does look like some uncle I know and we all know.
    Richard Hass of Foreign affairs magazine took him to school.
    There is an online Interview with him. Please don’t see it….its really embarrasing. Its like watching Bashira in trouble in English Version.

    Musharraf is a much better and assertive speaker.
    Gillani couldn’t convince my 2 year old of anything.
    Man , I was so embarrased to see that interview.

    If you really want to ruin your day go watch on and search for Pakistan.

    I think Even Sherry Rehman is embarrased.

  30. Aqil Sajjad says:
    August 4th, 2008 11:14 am

    Sorry if I sounded overly harsh or judgemental. It is indeed true that there are often very good ideas which our governments are not interested in listening to, so it sounds like an exercise in futility.

    But lets look at it another way. The present government is bad (I personally have very little sympathy for it). But even if the PPP is ousted, will that bring a change of policies? Things seemed better under Mush but the seeds of the present crisis were very much sown there. We had started seeing the slide already, and the present decline in the rupee was very much inevitable. It would all have happened even if Shaukat Aziz was around. In fact, he was the one who ignored clear signs of trouble and kept on boasting that we were having sustainable growth instead of taking appropriate steps to prevent such a situation.

    Now, it is certainly true that the PPP govt is not even making an honest effort to address the crisis. But my point is that the toppling of the govt will be helpful only if its replacement brings better economic management.

    We need to have specific ideas on how the present crisis ought to be tackled. Even if the govt does not listen, we need to bring our ideas in public discourse. You never know, there could be fresh elections some time, or some other opportunity where public opinion might count a bit. We want to make the most of such an opportunity whenever it comes our way, and for that, we need public awareness about various issues so that people can make appropriate choices while casting their votes. Feb 18 shows that a government can be booted out by the public. What we need next is that the people’s vote should be in favour of a certain set of policies, instead of being only a vote against a particular govt. So lets talk about specific policies, or at least the broad contours of how the economy should be handled.

    I think an example of a specific demand is the judges issue. We have a specific demand in this regard and the movement has mobilized public opinion around it. Likewise, we need to mobilize public opinion on governance issues and economic policies and then hope that somehow some day, it will count.

  31. Lal Salaam says:
    August 4th, 2008 2:22 pm

    I don’t care if his performance in the US was a disaster or not. This govt must be given a chance…ABSOLUTELY MUST BE… we waited Mush out for 8 years, but cannot even wait out 4 months for this Govt. Was YRG’s performance more embarrassing than Mush’s rape statement to the Washington Post!?!? For the sake of Pakistan, this Govt must survive. We cannot take the psychological blow of another uniform.

  32. Qudrat says:
    August 4th, 2008 3:03 pm

    Adil, you are exactly right. This has to be seen from the idea of what is good for democracy in Pakistan.

    I do not care if Yousuf Raza Gillani stays or not, but he must not become an excuse for the military to take over again. The party and parliament chose him and they can replace him with someone else. That is what should happen. But let us not have this become an excuse for another coup. Please.

  33. Aamir says:
    August 4th, 2008 4:27 pm

    Personally I think Pakistan should be turned into two loosely connected dominions which could be called Northern and Southern Pakistan. All Talibans and religious fanatics can move to north and secularists and moderates can come to south. This way both can live, hopefully without bloodshed.

  34. Aamir says:
    August 4th, 2008 4:57 pm

    Point being there is lot of tension between these two groups, kinda like that between Hindus and Muslims pre-partition. We need to find a way to get these two groups away from each other and give both an opportunity to live their lives their own way. Those who want shariat can move north, those who don

  35. Rasheed says:
    August 4th, 2008 6:40 pm

    Adil, or someone, please write a piece on this Aafia Siddiqui person apparently being detained by the U.S. FBI and open it for discussion. While I have no position on whether or not she had/has any “terrorist” links, I do find it unsettling that a Pakistani national and her young children are being held incommunicado by a foreign nation outside the boudaries of either of the two nations without any charges being filed. Such violations were seen in the past as typical of countries with the worst human rights records. What’s going on?

    The protection of each and every Pakistani citizen is the responsibility and obligation of the Pakistani Government. Apparently, the Gilani administration has not made any public protest regarding the issue. If not anything else, I consider this case alone as a symptom of weakness of the new government.

    Thank you.

  36. Faraz says:
    August 4th, 2008 7:20 pm

    lidaliqa said: If you really want to ruin your day go watch on and search for Pakistan.

    Wow… That’s all I can after watching Gilani’s interview. I can’t believe this guy is the PM. I mean, are you kidding me?

  37. Jam Yasir says:
    August 4th, 2008 8:21 pm

    exactly…what every one thinking is this the man who going to lead this nation know? are we that much lost…..!!! PTV address was the naked example of PM’s intellectuality.

  38. M Asif says:
    August 4th, 2008 9:16 pm

    The only thing that has changed in the topi drama called PK politics is that Musharraf now has a partner in Kiyani with a pathetic Gillani being the front man. Actual decisions are still being made by the serving and retired general. I am more worried about the economic situation. Gillani is wearing biggest topi.

  39. meengla says:
    August 4th, 2008 9:59 pm

    YRG reportedly made even Benazir Bhutto angry when he was the Speaker of National Assembly in BB’s 2nd term and refused her direction to disqualify some opposition MNAs (because the MNAs were, ostensibly, not following some required quorum procedure).
    Then he chose to suffer prison for 5 years instead of being bought off by Musharraf’s NAB Gestapo.
    If we can do that–historic facts–then he sure can stand up against Asif Ali Zardari should his conscience dictate. So let’s not insult the man for being a mouthpiece of Zardari. He may pull some surprises for you impatient lot.
    BUT…It will be a democratic decision for the PPP leadership(sans Benazir, they are still in a shocked state) to replace YRG with someone more ‘articulate’. But, PLEASE: No more damn uniforms!!!
    The ONLY way out for Pakistan is to put trust into the seemingly slow and chaotic processes of democracy. And, in that vein, even if Chaudry Shujaat Hussain is elected by popular will then I will prefer him over the generals.

    PS. Aqil Sajjad’s posts above are correct: The economic woes we see right now have their roots in not only the current global stagnation but also in the live-for-the-moment economics of the Musharraf/Shaukat Aziz era.

  40. Dr Cocopal says:
    August 4th, 2008 11:17 pm

    YRG and our all politicians need training to cope with pressure situations .Media does kill or boost some one political career .We need to understand that our politician are not mature enough to run the country but we do not have any other choice .We have to wait till our nation learn to vote educated people rather then these feudal minded politician.
    I have a strong hope that in a near future a new political party will emerge from educated middle class and bring things on right path.
    We can not afford another marshal law.

  41. MQ says:
    August 4th, 2008 11:45 pm

    This evening Imran Khan was the guest speaker at a meeting arranged by the South Asian Journalists’ Association (SAJA) at Columbia. I also happened to be there. Among other things, Khan predicted the current set-up in Pakistan will not last more than 6 months and that there would be new elections.

    During the Q&A session, I asked him how did he foresee the current set-up would be dissolved? Through 58-2(b) or through an army coup? Obviously he could not, and did not, support any of the two options and categorically ruled out the possibility of their happening. The judges, he said, will be restored soon who would then do away with the current dispensation, and new elections would follow.

    Honestly, I could not understand the logic of his answer. First, who will restore th judges. And second, If the judges are restored and they throw out the NRO, only Zardari and few others might be affected. Why or how would the Assembly be dissolved?

  42. Aamir Ali says:
    August 5th, 2008 12:51 am

    These PPP and PML-N essentially promised the stars to the Pakistani public, without actually having anything to offer. Pakistani public bought the fraud so now we have YRG, a clueless and powerless fellow as a “democratic PM”.

    I say let Pakistanis enjoy their democracy.

  43. libertarian says:
    August 5th, 2008 2:01 am

    Writing’s on the wall. Not only is YRG toast, the PPP is as well. The ISI screwup was the last straw. Now Mush is roaring like he has not in months – and his message is the same India-centric BS used by the faujis to whip up a frenzy. Add a dissolving economy and a howling trio of Afghanistan, US and India to do more … add salt to taste – and the result is tiresomely predictable. Pakistan will be “saved” yet again by the geniuses in Rawalpindi (*groan*) …

  44. Ali says:
    August 5th, 2008 2:11 am

    Rumors are in air because Nawaz has nothing else as bargaining power with him. So his media cronies and ISI fundos, amid losing control are trying to create the confusion to give him some bargaining power. After today, it will either die down or will intensify before dying down.

  45. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    August 5th, 2008 4:23 am

    @ Ab jooton mein daal batey gi,
    PPP’s Zarbhutts are only capable of such “baggage”
    in their ranks. Everybody is now running behind the Pir,
    I can give you the whole list of PPP’s other Jiyalahs even
    worst than The PPP’s Pir.

    PPP had chosen the Pir for he should receive the
    benedictions from the barking dogs of our

  46. RJH says:
    August 5th, 2008 7:46 am

    If he does not leave, he should be booted out.
    He is a poster “boy” for the incompetent and clueless political leadership in Pakistan.
    Good riddance.

  47. Adnan Ahmad says:
    August 5th, 2008 8:52 am

    May be Zardari did give Amin Faheem a favor after all. But that aside people carry weight when they say that ‘what Zia through Musharraf could not do to people’s party in 30 years Zardari has managed just that in 5 months.’ Or when they ask who is Sherry Rahman.. or Rahman Malik.

    It will be a miracle if this party wins half as many seats in Punjab and frontier in the next elections.

  48. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    August 5th, 2008 11:08 am

    @Adnan Ahmed,

    Mian biwi raazi, to kia karey SPANISH QAZI ?

    does it ring a bell ?

  49. tariq says:
    August 5th, 2008 3:52 pm

    Prof. Najam,

    You might be interested to know that Reutors Pakistani Blog is quoting your survey here:

    Keep up the great work!

  50. August 6th, 2008 2:08 am

    It is unfortunate that anyone can become a prime minister in this country. We were hearing about giving more powers to the prime minister. We were hearing about supremacy of parliament. We were hearing that national issues will be discussed in the parliament before formulating any policy. We are seeing that decisions are taken by one individual who does not even lives in Pakistan. The PM has to answer the summons from Dubai and rushes there with his cabinet and party officials to take instructions.

    What difference has it made? Was the military uniform of the president the only problem being faced by the nation? Why is it that important issues are not being discussed in parliament? Is the parliament mere a place to raise hands for passing budget?

  51. akbar says:
    August 9th, 2008 10:55 am

    So educate me, How is all what you listed Gilani,s fault?
    And will it correct if he is gone?

  52. Ammar says:
    August 9th, 2008 4:28 pm

    Reading all these reports about Mr Gilani’s embarrasing performance during his trip to US, I was reminded of a report ( from TIME magazine archives) that I recently read about a Pakistani PM’s trip to Washington in 1957- what a contrast. Time magazine carried the following report about a confident PM from a chaotic land:,9171,862601,00.html

    Pakistan has probably become a more chaotic land than what it used to be in 1957 but now we do not even have a confident prime minister!

  53. Laeeq says:
    August 11th, 2008 4:27 pm

    Seems like he will stay and Musharraf will be out!

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