Who is Embarrasing Pakistan? Mr. Zardari. Pakistan Media. All of Us.

Posted on August 9, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Media Matters, People, Politics, Society
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Adil Najam

It has been hard not to notice the embarrassment that has been Mr. Asif Ali Zardari’s ill-fated, and decidedly ill-advised, trip to the United Kingdom. That embarrassment has risen as fast and as high as the waters of the floods ravaging Pakistan while the President is not there. But our electronic media’s reaction – really, obsession – with this trip has itself been embarrassing, as indeed, has been the reactions of too many of us.

But even more than an embarrassment, Mr. Zardari’s trip and our obsessive reactions to it has proved to be an all-too-costly distraction from the far more real disaster at home. A disaster than neither the President nor the media could have averted, but the response to which required political leadership from the President and civic enterprise from the media, and a sense of national purpose from all of us. Unfortunately, all have been been conspicuous by their absence this last week.

And now there is the fiasco about the shoe hurling. It is still not clear what really happened. But the fuss created around it is huge. As is the embarrassment: not just for Mr. Zardari, but for Pakistan itself. If ever there was need for proof that we are all purveyors of tamashbeen politics, this is it. Within hours of the news a clearly fake ‘picture’ was being touted by a supposed ‘journalist’ on a media email list. Indeed, the supposed photo of Mr. Zardari being hit by a shoe was so clearly and nauseatingly a fake that one had to wonder about the deprivation of the mind which would even offer it in this age of the magic of Photoshop.

Democracy is meant to be a messy thing. Nowhere is it messier than in Pakistan. But maybe those of us who worry about national embarrassment should, maybe, worry a little more.

Mr. Zardari’s trip was clearly a bad idea. It was a bad idea made worse by his insistence to go ahead with it even after it became clear to everyone that it was a bad idea. Mr. Zardari is not in the habit of choosing good advisers, but if ever he needed one, now was the time. His desire, as he explained in Birmingham, to have Benazir Bhutto’s fans say ‘dua’ for her may well have been real, and it is also probably true that his physical presence in Pakistan would have made no difference to the flood or how it was handled. But neither argument holds because his absence clearly did make a difference, whether his presence would have or not.

There could possibly not be a worse time to highlight this crisis of leadership. I have often wondered if Mr. Zardari realized just how the personal disaffection with him is amongst too many Pakistanis. If he does, he has never acted to change that perception. He should, for Pakistan’s sake. Being seen to be out of touch with his own country is embarrassing for him, but it is also embarrassing for his country. Indeed, it can also be dangerous for the future prospects of democracy in the country.

But at some point one also starts getting tired of the relentless badgering by some in the mainstream media. Government actions, such as the reported closure of GEO and ARY in certain areas, are to be condemned and condemned unequivocally. But those in the mainstream media need to realize that even as they create public opinion, the media is itself being judged by public opinion. The line between news and entertainment has long been erased as has been the line between fact and opinion. Now we find ourselves trespassing into the realm of slander.

As one of the institutional that many Pakistanis – including this Pakistani – has been proud of in recent years, this slide is disturbing to watch. Vigilance and transparency for those in power – as for example on the fake degrees issue – is the media’s duty. But ultimately the media will be judged – within Pakistan and abroad – for its sense of balance and fairplay. A sense of media integrity is a precious commodity for any society. A society as precarious as Pakistan’s can ill-afford the embarrassment of that integrity being questioned.

As for shoe-hurling as a means of political commentary, there are still too many things that we do not know about the incident (including the government insisting that it never even happened). But this we know: Pakistan’s name is being further ridiculed because of it, as if it was not ridiculed enough already. We should all be embarrassed and ashamed for having created a polity where someone would be compelled to throw a shoe at the President of the country while on foreign soil and where some (maybe even many) at home would celebrate this act! Those who might wish to give Pakistan a bad name could possibly not have designed a better demonstration (on foreign soil too) of just how dysfunctional a polity we have become.

I have long lamented the lack of civility in our political discourse. But the act of hurling a shoe at someone is not just badtameezi, it is an act of political violence. Protest is a political right. And when one has strong convictions, it can even become a political duty. But violence in the name of protest, no matter how ‘minor’, must never be justified. Maybe hurling a shoe is ‘minor’ violence, but it is only steps (no pun intended) removed from acts of more ‘major’ violence (maybe think of recent events in Karachi as a template). It only demonstrates on international soil what too many have long suspected: there is something terribly wrong with this polity.

You can choose whoever you wish to blame for this one. For me, there is no ambiguity whatsoever on this one. Mr. Zardari deserves blame for having created a politics where at least one person would contemplate such an act and many more would find it defensible. The individual who supposedly committed this act is an instrument of national embarrassment. He is certainly not the ‘hero’ that some are making him out to be. He is anything but. And those who find this act either funny or deserving, should maybe think again. If there is any laughter you hear in the background, it is at the expense of your country. And if it is deserving, then let us extend the logic to its obvious conclusion: we have all created the polity we lament and, therefore, we must all ‘deserve’ the same!

51 Comments on “Who is Embarrasing Pakistan? Mr. Zardari. Pakistan Media. All of Us.”

  1. Lubna says:
    August 9th, 2010 1:22 am

    I dislike Zardari very very much. But the guy who threw the shoe is doing no favor. He just made Pakistan into an even bigger joke.

  2. Mike says:
    August 9th, 2010 1:22 am

    Any doubts?? Your army and its rogue spy agency… Refer to Wikileaks…

  3. Haroon says:
    August 9th, 2010 1:39 am

    Very well said, Adil.
    Tough words from you, but honest words.
    We have all embarrassed our country. And we do so in so many ways, that it even becomes difficult to respond to people like Mike here, who have no idea what they are talking about!
    Indeed, we are our own worst enemies.

  4. ASAD says:
    August 9th, 2010 1:46 am

    Adil, I fear your honesty and sincerity will be rewarded by brickbats by your commenters, but I hope people will think seriously about what you are saying.

    Pakistan politics has become a circus, but really it is we who have made it a circus.

    Like this shoe guy. He comes out looking like a psychopath. Pakistanis come out looking like violent fanatics. And Zardari comes out looking like a victim. What a joke!

  5. Gardezi says:
    August 9th, 2010 1:52 am

    Very true indeed. But also sad.

    In this time of crisis, if we had come together the way we had after the earthquake we all could have been changing the whole conversation on Pakistan. Instead Zardari, media and all of us have let the country down again by focussing on our petty politics.

    Meanwhile, Pakistanis keep dying!

  6. Qaiser says:
    August 9th, 2010 2:02 am

    No, Adil, I do not think Zardari understands at all how much he is personally disliked. I think he has no idea because he is surrounded by chamchas. he has no interst himself in Pakistan nor do those around him.

  7. Sikander Hayat says:
    August 9th, 2010 4:22 am

    @ Mike,
    Wikileaks are based on the documents written by American Intelligence agents.This is the classic case of judge, jury & the prosecution being the same person.
    You can’t seriously call it a proof.


  8. Capri5315 says:
    August 9th, 2010 5:41 am

    Shoe thrower has been named as Mr Sardar Mohammed Shamim Khan, 57, of Coventry and was released by the police after cautioning him

  9. Imran Ali says:
    August 9th, 2010 6:16 am

    Let’s be clear that the protestor was a **British** citizen and the assault took place on British soil; though of course the protestor was of Pakistani origin.

    As a British-born Pakistani, I’m proud that one of our citizens stepped up to assert the frustration of millions around the world, against the odious Zardari. Regardless of the method, he gave voice to many of us.

    I’m ashamed that our new British PM hosted Zardari in such high-profile circumstances, also providing a platform for his son Bilawal, but grateful that Zardari couldn’t leave our shores without a message from the British people :)

    Pakistan has only itself to blame in enabling the ascent to power of Zardari; if you don’t like him, get rid of him at the next election.

    There’s an interview with the protestor at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JURFXh0ezKI

  10. Nihari says:
    August 9th, 2010 8:07 am

    All these leaders are from our ranks, they grew in our system…We as a whole are an embarrasement. We have failed. Nobody else….

  11. SM says:
    August 9th, 2010 8:22 am

    Pakistan cant survive as a democratic nation, as we do not know what the democracy is. At least not untill we know how to and to whom ……. cast our VOTE properly.

    But if we keep insisting as being a democratic nation, we will be just playing cards for looters. And we feel proud to be played.

    ‘Momen’ never gets stung by the same hole twice, but we do … how shameful. But more over ….. we intend to get stung once again since two times is not enough. Thats funny

  12. Aamer Aziz says:
    August 9th, 2010 9:42 am

    I think Pakistani Qaum as a whole is the most baysharam qaum in the world .. Whose fault is it ? Zardari ? No – he is born with a golden spoon which turned into pure gold by marriage and even more gold by death of his wife – he gives a damn about the Qaum .. Press and Media? No – they are opportunistic vultures who feed on the misery of the others – the world over .. I dont blame Pakistani press – all media the world over make a buck out of misery and death and sensationalism .. Government ? who is government ? No – cos it doesnt exist in itself .. it is a group of individuals who thrive on the blood of the commoners .. so then who is to blame .. ahhh .. the Pakistani Qaum – as a whole .. every child woman man and old .. every commoner and educated .. the civil society .. what is their crime ? to live with (and accept) people like the President.

  13. Asghar says:
    August 9th, 2010 10:38 am

    Depressing situation.
    But you are right, after all the hopes we had invested in the new media of Pakistan, it too is letting us down. Zardari no one had any hopes for, but the media we did. Sad.

  14. Farhan says:
    August 9th, 2010 10:56 am

    To the guy who is proudly proclaiming that the badtameez she thrower was a British citizen. I am glad he was, because I would be even more ashamed of his violent act if he was a Paksitani.

    People of Pakistani origin in Britain have brought nothing except shame to Pakistan. They breed crime and violence and extremism which they then export to Pakistan and fund in Paksitan. They are just a plain bad influence on Britain as well as Pakistan and have always been an embarrassment. Most recently this vile act. If he is a Briton, why is he throwing shoes at a Pakistani President and bringing even more disrepute to Pakistan

  15. HMD says:
    August 9th, 2010 11:51 am

    First of all, this “quam ki badnami”/national embarrassment thing is too cliched now. Unfortunately Adil is getting in to the same trap of thinking about national embarrassments as the rest in Pakistani media. If you think about it, there was really no dignity left with “Pakistan” that could have been reduced by this incident. As nations go, Pakistan is at THE rock bottom by any standard you can care to choose. I understand some people are still in denial about this, but as the “five stages of grief model” goes, they are just in the first stage with the last being _acceptance_.
    Now forgetting about “badnami”, Zardari’s humiliation could also be blessing in disguise: this could be the herald of politicians’ public accountability in Pakistan. I would certainly welcome that.

  16. AHsn says:
    August 9th, 2010 11:57 am

    On 14th. December, 2008, an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes to hit the President George W. Bush of the United States. Both hits were avoided by Bush and he continued his press conference. The journalist was sentenced to three years in jail for this assault.

    This event gave birth to many jokes and video games. Americans never considered it as an insult to the nation or any insult to the president. The whole matter was ignored by the American public.

    Mr. A. A. Zardari got some similar treatment from a Pakistani Origin U.K. citizen Sardar Mohammad Shamim Khan.

    Now, the Pakistani Intellectuals feel very much insulted as a nation and also that their President (the representative of the nation) has received a shameful treatment on a foreign soil.

    Mr. Bush was elected by direct vote of the people as well as of the states. He was representing the whole nation and the states of U.S.A.

    Mr. Zardari had been never elected to his post by the people (nation). So he has no right to call himself the representative of the nation. He has been elected by the national assembly to this post. He can represent only this electoral college.

    To attach the whole nation behind Mr. Zardari (fake President!) is a big lie and a good joke of the Pakistani Intellectuals. They will do any thing to be in the good books of the rulers of the country.

    In any case Mr. Zardari only represents himself. He works only for his interests and assets.

    There is no need of “making a mountain out of a molehill”. or
    بات کا بتنگڑ بنا نا

    KhudA HAfiz

  17. ASIM says:
    August 9th, 2010 12:09 pm

    Dear AHsn, I do not know where you live. I live in New York. Most of the people I know never liked George Bush, most of them hated him as much as most of my friends now hate Zardari. My own feelings are not different. But when that shoe incident happened, most of them did feel sorry for George Bush and angry at the shoe thrower. I had at least a few conversations with Americans where they asked why all Muslims are so violent even when making political points. Whether they felt insulted or not, I felt insulted by that idiot throwing a shoe and making me and all other Muslims looking like violent idiots. My feelings for Zardari are equally negative, but I do not want some British psycopath projecting my country as a country of shoe-throwers and bomb-throwers, who can only speak the language of violence.

  18. Farrukh says:
    August 9th, 2010 12:35 pm

    I just cannot understand why it is that every time one of these things happen, perfectly reasonable people come out to defend these acts.

    So, it is OK to throw a shoe to show political dissatisfaction.
    What about throwing a little pebble. I guess if a shoe is OK then a pebble would be OK too.
    How about a stone. If a pebble is OK then a stone would also be OK.
    If a stone is OK, then maybe throwing a knife is also OK. After all, we have to show our dissatisfaction!
    If a knife, then why not a grenade.
    Actually, why not just shoot or have the person we do not like politically shot.
    Oh! Actually, we DO that all the time. Only last week in Karachi.
    Actually, we go one better. Why throw shoes. Why not just have a bomb blow up. Do that too!


    (p.s. if you think this is a stretch, just think about what we did to minorities. A little law would be harmless, right? Go and ask the people of Gojra about how harmless these things are!)

  19. Zulfiqar Ali says:
    August 9th, 2010 12:46 pm

    The planted and paid protestors mainly from Hizb, PTI and N –league. Doing these cheap protests in your right and no one stops you from doing so but hey, how much did a placard cost? a pound or 2 pounds? That was your money right! so why didn’t you remitted that money collectively to Pakistan in order to help the flood victims? Why didn’t you stage a protest outside 21, Downing Street right after Cameron gave the statement against Pakistan?

    All in all, President’s visit to UK made it clear that a pocket of our society is in fact dual character and they will continue to bash their country’s name with cheap stunts like this. PPP will InshaAllah gather even more popularity and strength.

  20. Manny says:
    August 9th, 2010 12:47 pm

    What a bunch of jokers you guys are.
    No one is surprised that you are throwing stones at your President. Violence is the only thing you are good at.
    You throw shoes, blow bombs, burn flags, and just kill and blow up even your own people and make a mess of the world. That is what you do. So, why be surprised.

  21. Nihari says:
    August 9th, 2010 1:23 pm

    The guy who threw the shoe at Zardari. does he have the balls to throw the shoe at Cameroon for his statement…

    Coming back to the topic. Our elders used to tell us a story…Once a begger entered a town….he was the first one to enter the fort in the morning. He was surprised to see the people waiting for him with garlands. They told him as they didnt decide the name of the new king, they decided to make anybody who entered the city first …their new king….They new king asked them to store his begging bowl, his stick and his old clothes at a safe place. Then he became a king…He enjoyed life to the fullest. The city was going to the dogs and he didnt care. The neighbors were about to attack and when the cabinet approached him, he said not to worry, he has a plan. And he kept his merry ways. So when the city about to be ransacked by the invading armies and the elders approached him again to know about the PLAN, he asked them to bring him his bowl, stick and clothes. He changed his royal clothes with the old ones and bid them farewell…The astounded people questioned him and he replied. When you guys are stupid enough to make the first person entereing the city your king…you desrve this destiny…

    We as a nation deserve this destiny…

  22. Kaliwal says:
    August 9th, 2010 1:45 pm

    First of all, we need to find out if the guy who did that was a genuine protestor or a hired one, was it his own personal decission and circumstance or the one dictatated by someone else……..only then we can talk about the implications. If he was a genuine protestor who did the act out of his own frustration backed by whatever cincumstances then we do not have any right to judge it, right or wrong. He has suffered, he wanted to show that and that’s the way he chose because there was no other way to speak loud enough that your voice is heard in the Paki corridores of Power………….it is a wrong act if it was paid or somehow arranged by someone just to bash Zardari or PPP. I personally think, it was that guy’s own frustration and we can’t say it was a wrong decission on his part, who knows why he is living in UK, what’s his background, how long has he been out, what he has done in Pakistan, why he left the country, what are his complaints about the country and how has he been treated while he lived there………..I am away from home for 10 years now and I have not met a single person from Pakistan living abroad who has left the country out of pleasure or on choice……….there’s more to just judging someone by a small act of “not recommended behavior”. I know for sure, that because of this president and because of all our politicians and leaders, 100′s and 1000′s of homesless Pakis are living in almost every corner of the world, no matter how hard it is to make a living and send money back home to support families. Acountry without any social and economic justice is bound to create these scenarios, I just don’t want to blame the guy entirely for this incident.

  23. August 9th, 2010 1:51 pm

    Some comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “news channels.”
    - “News channels are reporting what is happening out there. Shoes hurled at Zardari was a news which they telecast. Is that wrong? I know channels sometimes go over-board but tell me any news which has proven wrong so far?”
    - “ALL OF US, well some a little more!”
    - “Pakistani President reached England dressed embarrassingly, appeared high on Battuoism in his speech and totally unconcerned with the dreadful situation in Pakistan. Yes the fault lies with people of Pakistan who have elected such leaders to represent them. Media should carry on good work regardless…”
    - “zardari himself is embarrasing pakistan cause he is a kuta, harami,kamina,salaa,pchood”
    - “I think you are also out of line.Please stop embarressing us. Keep your langguage civilized..”
    - “yupzz well said keshef….
    i fink m havin no wordz 4 him bcz mai wordz use karky wasta ni karna chati aisy admi pe…..P”
    - “Zardari tum ne Pak Watan ki behurmaty kihai.Allah hi tumhain is ki saza de ga.”
    - “ALL OF US”
    - “all of us”
    - “Of course Zardari.Just listen to his ‘speech’ for 5 min.does he sound normal.its v.obvious that he is completely shallow and an idiot.M not saying this coz i hate him.just watch him talk for 5 min and u’ll feel lyk crying that he is our president and is representing us:(“

  24. Kashif Bukhari says:
    August 9th, 2010 2:12 pm

    With all this fiasco and mismanagement going right and left be it floods be it plane crash or the riots in Karachi….. I just wonder…. Is Democracy for Pakistan or we deserve danda and Army rule..

    You be the judge how the government responded for earthquakes under Army rule and what its doing now.

    I assume 90% of ATP readers r in favor of democracy but that means 10 monkeys and 4 men will be ruled by monkeys… first we need to increase our literacy rate to more than 60% before we go that route. In whole political brass not one guy would have ever risked his life for the country… atleast in Army institution there are so many who sacrificed ther lives and who are willing to do that always. ….peace…

  25. H Saqib says:
    August 9th, 2010 2:17 pm

    We all are embarrassing Pakistan and Islam. Did you hear that Americans have allowed construction of a mosque near ground zero. Great triumph for core dictates of religious freedom. Can we reciprocate. More at: http://fmeducation.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/america%E2%80%99s-core-dictates-of-religious-freedom-honored-finally%E2%80%A6/

  26. Paki says:
    August 9th, 2010 2:55 pm

    This is a difficult issue. i am not so concerned about what other people think of us. our focus on image and not substance is at least a part of our problem as a people.

    what’s worse: a political elite that continues to plunder and destroy the country year after year, a media that is usually manipulated by different factions and caters to sensationalism or an ignorant public that gets its jollies from cheap stunts?

    all of the above. the fact that zardari is a crook is no surprise. his party, the PPP, is crooked as are most of the parties in pakistan. most pakistani bureaucrats, politicians and senior military officers are crooked based on what i’ve seen. none of this is going to change because a guy threw a shoe, or the media covered one way or the other or because of this blog post.

    Pakistan needs serious social change – either forced down from the top or the result of widespread unrest a la the taliban. the top down scenario is unlikely and the grassroots/civil war scenario is going to be very greusome with painful results.

    meanwhile, all you elites and intellectuals keep living the good life. perhaps you wont be around to see the reckoning.

  27. Sam says:
    August 9th, 2010 7:28 pm

    Well reasoned piece….

    But this is the ONLY Language Zardari understands and treatment he deserves. Unfortunately, even this will not be enough.

  28. Jabeen says:
    August 9th, 2010 9:12 pm

    Well said, Adil Najam. Very well said. We need to ask OURSELVES some tough questions.

  29. Fahim says:
    August 9th, 2010 10:41 pm

    The President can start by putting his trip on his personal account. With a chateau in France amongst other properties, he can afford it. This was more a personal trip than an official one. It reminded me about the fun people made of Sara Palin who was trying to get govt to cover for personal trips of family. You may have noted that Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain has been criticized for her spending. She too spent some time with the Spanish Royal family.
    Pakistan needs an emergency management body.

    An island nation: Millions of villagers marooned on tiny patches of land as floods devastate swathes of Pakistan

    About the shoe thrower:
    Meanwhile Fatima Bhutto adds some details about govt spending…
    Zardari’s Katrina
    Why is Pakistan’s president junketing while his people drown?

  30. Neena says:
    August 10th, 2010 12:51 am

    Pakistan is at war so President Zaradari abroad trip is more important than his being in Pakistan. How else we get millions of pounds and dollars in flood victim funds and not to mention continuous flow of funds for Army for crushing Talibans. FYI, that donation by President Zardari never aired on Geo.

    As for protest almost every democratically elected leaders face it. Looks like unlike Pakistan, PTI has organized political wing over there and we know PML(N) are profiting on every opportunity to fame whether it is how unethical. All is fair in politics especially if one’s fear the downfall.

    Lastly, we all know who is behind this media criticism. Media criticism of Zardari hides a political game.

  31. Amna Zaman says:
    August 10th, 2010 4:05 am

    It took us almost a decade to get rid of dictatorship and now this question is being raised again. It is important we get rid of militancy in this democracy tenure. Out of 60 years in Pakistan 32 have been ruled by army. A bitter fact.

  32. atta rasool malik says:
    August 10th, 2010 5:31 am

    We may believe it or not Muslims are one nation. Muslims all over the world are concerned about one another problem all over the world. Lot of Muslims I found, in many countries, concerned about other Muslims. Pakistan is special country for Muslims because subcontinent was divided in the name of Islam, (division of Punjab and Bengal refer). All Muslims of the world want to know, in true sense, is it true that Islam is complete code of life? In that case Pakistan and Iran become the prime examples to gauge aforesaid claim, made about Islam. Pakistani community is most vibrant and Islam loving society, though most of the time they have been decieved. Now oversee Pakistanis are positively and enthusiastically participating in Pakistani politics. I find it very healthy signs. Throwing of shoes over Zardari sahib is not bringing bad name to Pakistan on foreign soil. That scene was very much Pakistani. Our rulers should be ready to find bigger resistance abroad. Because of war of terror, and ill-treatment of Muslims in many European and USA, Pakistanis are becoming more patriots. They want to keep their option open, of going back to Pakistan, a reformed and better Pakistan

  33. citizen of the world says:
    August 10th, 2010 6:43 am

    Mr. Atta,
    The problem with morons like you is that you cannot think above religion.Religion shows us a way of life,but does not feed us,cloth us. Are you sure all muslims think about every muslim around the world? Do u know any one who has worked in Saudi,Kuwait just to name few places.
    Apportunity,love for money,agenda and power has taken over religion.

  34. AHsn says:
    August 10th, 2010 9:07 am

    Dear ASIM,

    Concerning two human beings, I have the same reaction against the culprit and sympathy for the victim. I condemn the throwing of a shoe by any body towards another human being (Bush and Zardari included).

    But Adil in his post is not talking of two simple humans; he is talking of two representatives of the two nations. He considers that any act of insult towards Zardari is an insult towards the whole nation of Pakistan.

    In my earlier comment I have described why Bush does represent the Nation and Zardari does not.

    Of course there were many American individuals who, very rightly, considered the Shoe throwing as an insult to the president.

    But how many of them came out in the streets to show their disgust in a public rally. Not only that, can you cite any media show of any American journalist in defence of the honour of the Nation as Adil is doing here?

    The people of Pakistan do not care what happens to Zardari. For them Zardari is not the nation. It is only Adil and his intellectual friends who are trying to establish Zardari (fake Democratic President) as the TRUE like Obama or Sarkozy.

    BTW: Obama shows where you live and Sarkozy indicates where I live!!!


  35. Anjum Amin Siddiqui says:
    August 10th, 2010 9:34 am

    God forbid after Allah & Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) pakistani politicians are the most honest & Truthful people in the whole world that is what every political party claim. For all of us the masses we are here to encourge them to do what they are doing. This country will not change nor the people living here niether the politicians so why worry.

  36. Aqil says:
    August 10th, 2010 11:18 am

    Throwing a shoe is not a good way to protest and in that sense I do think the person who did so does not deserve to be praised.

    However, if we are talking about who is embarrasing Pakistan, then this incident is small in the bigger picture. Pakistan was not embarrased by its leadership only in this tour but Zardari is a national embarrasement to begin with.

    As for our media, it is irresponsible and loves to sensationalize. But if we are talking about Zardari, then the media’s bigger sin is that during the Musharraf period, it gave PPP an open platform for presenting Zardari as a poor victim of political vendetta and running BB’s campaign for returning to the country. Now that Zardari is in power, the same media has suddenly rediscovered the fact that he is very corrupt and is now going after him. This is lota journalism.

  37. Aqil says:
    August 10th, 2010 11:26 am

    Throwing shoes is not a good way to protest and the person who did so does not deserve to be praised or lionized.

    However, if we are talking about who is embarrasing Pakistan, then this incident is not that important in the bigger picture. Zardari is a national embarrasement to begin with, regardless of this tour.

    As for the media, it is irresponsible and loves to sensationalize. But as far as Zardari is concerned, its bigger sin is that during the Musharraf period, the same media gave the PPP an open platform for presenting Zardari as a poor victim of political vendetta and running BB’s campaign for an unconditional return to the country. Now how come the same media has suddenly rediscovered the fact that Zardari is thoroughly corrupt now that he’s in power? This is lota journalism.

  38. Watan Aziz says:
    August 10th, 2010 3:10 pm

    Prime Minister Vladimir Putin climbed into a firefighting plane Tuesday and dumped water on two of the hundreds of wildfires sweeping through western Russia and cloaking Moscow in a suffocating smog.

    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Sunday set up a State Council temporary headquarters for rescue work aboard a plane heading for landslide-hit Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern Gansu Province.

    President Obama has made four trips to the Gulf region, including one overnight stay, since an underwater well exploded and began spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico in April. First lady Michelle Obama is making her second visit to the area on Friday.

    President Asif Ali Zardari and the British Prime Minister met over dinner during which assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto was remembered.

    One person’s act will never be a cause of insult for the honest, decent, and hard working Pakistanis.

  39. Neena says:
    August 11th, 2010 3:49 am

    Zardari really deserves a shoe since instead of running away (like other leaders ;) to foreign land when times were tough he stayed in his “homeland” and went to jail.

    PS. ATP is deleting my comments, may I ask why?

  40. AHsn says:
    August 11th, 2010 7:44 am

    “Zardari really deserves a shoe since instead of running away (like other leaders ;) to foreign land when times were tough he stayed in his “homeland” and went to jail.”

    Dear Neena,

    You are right, Zardari could have run away, as so many others, to foreign land.

    But he could not do it, simply because, during the major part of this period, the poor chap was languishing (comfortably?) in a Jail or was under investigation. Otherwise, I assure you he would have been the first one to escape.

    “From 1997 to 2004, Zardari was kept in jail on various corruption charges and accusations of murder. “[Wikipedia]

  41. Salman says:
    August 11th, 2010 1:36 pm

    Nobody ever threw shoes at ‘General’ Musharraf ..

    zardari doesn’t deserve any respect.. as a leader, president or even a man..

    but only if our media was not army’s spokesperson, we would not have celebrated this embarrassing act..

    a bad leader should be criticized, but NOT forgetting that we had CHOSEN him democratically.. we never have to stoop so low ourselves ..

    if you really want to throw shoes.. throw them at Army officers… who do not regard the constitution or the judiciary to be of any higher status than their boots.. EVEN NOW ..

  42. Meengla says:
    August 11th, 2010 2:57 pm

    1) I bet had Zardari stayed back in Pakistan then there would be criticism about Zardari’s security detail and that, just to protect him, there is a lot of public expenditure. Or that Zardari’s presence was detracting from the rescue effort? Or that Zardari’s mere face would make so angry that they would be distracted from the rescue effort and lynch Zardari?
    2) You bet there is nothing Zardari can do which will prevent people from hating him. His giving up on his powers via the 18th Amendment–a landmark in Pakistani history and change of immense importance–is not talked about. Or the NFC Awards–after about 19 years of delay. Or the Gilgit-Baltistan reforms. Or the relative political stability where–despite Jang Group’s methods–there are FOUR coalition govts. in the four provinces of Pakistan. Or that, starting April 2009, there is finally a national consensus against the Taliban. Or that, Baluch nationalists are a little calmer since the Baluchistan package by the new parliament.
    3) Zardari is now a figure-head after the passage of 18th Amendment. PM Gilani has all the powers and he and other ministers–to varying degrees–are involved in flood relief. Zardari was able to secure $24 million after meeting UK PM Cameroun for flood relief. Was that such a bad thing? Or was that any worse than an ineffective Zardari wading in waist-deep waters of the flood just for some ‘photo ops’ and PR display? Was Zardari’s presence really going to inspire people for a massive rescue effort?

    I see hypocrisy, opportunism, and blind hatred all over Pakistan’s media and blogspace against Zardari. What these people have achieved is not to make Zardari’s own image any worse–if that was possible–but to have distracted from the great calamity afflicting Pakistan. Imagine the usefulness of mental resources and vigor wasted here if that were directed to raise awareness about the flood victims, about the need for better water management, and about raising funds.

    Good job!!

  43. Neena says:
    August 12th, 2010 2:30 am

    Well said Meengla. Karachi and other parts of Pakistan are still intact due to great President’s leadership.

    You, I and “others” knows “Criticism of Zardari in Pakistan hides a political game” http://tinyurl.com/2u4b8a9. But we aren’t ready to call spade a spade.

  44. Aamir Ali says:
    August 14th, 2010 4:53 am

    Zardari’s visit to his chateau in France and lunch at Chequers was a gross insult to drowning Pakistanis and prove that he indeed is the scoundrel that Pakistanis consider him to be. He deserves to be criticized and condemned and only a few PPP drones are supporting so-called “democratic” President of wadera-party.

  45. Meengla says:
    August 14th, 2010 1:35 pm

    I agree that the visit to the chateau was stupid and insensitive. There can’t be any explaining away of that.
    However, the lunch with the British PM managed to get about $24 million for the flood relief–something far, far more than all the hateful blogspace can manage to achieve. Also, the British PM is now less likely to criticize Pakistan the way he did in India.
    Not for bad for a mere ‘lunch’.

    About people up in arms against Zardari, so what’s new? He was hated before he even became the president. He was hated when he was in prison and tortured. People hated Musharraf too by the spring of 2008. Next in line PM is Nawaz Sharif: People will hate him with a passion again.

    But we, who believe in democracy in Pakistan, would rather be called ‘drones’ than be the boot-lickers of the military rule. I don’t care who comes to power next. Most likely Nawaz Sharif. So long as that person can be removed via ballot box through constitutional ways.

    Once again: The amount of energy wasted by media pundit and blogspace over the ‘shoe’ incident could have better spent in flood relief.

  46. Aamir Ali says:
    August 14th, 2010 3:07 pm

    The comments by British PM were meant to curry favor in India, it meant nothing beyond that. I doubt the luxurious lunch with David Cameron is the reason British aid is flowing, Musharraf did not have lunch with Blair yet the British still helped.

    It is the British who deserve credit for helping Pakistan and not the thief Zardari, who with no education and no assets still owns palaces in UK, Pakistan and France. Democracy merely on paper is not appreciated.

  47. Neena says:
    August 15th, 2010 12:51 am

    “Musharraf did not have lunch with Blair yet the British still helped. ”

    British and other Western powers trust Pakistan and its Army at that time, this is not the case anymore. There are no more blank checks.

    As for wealth you seemed quite informative care to share Nawaz Sharif, Gen Musharraf and Altaf Hussains property details too. ANd while we are at it can you tell why these leaders ran away when times were tough instead going to “comfy” jails?

    President Zardari doesn’t need any degrees to prove his credentials, life has taught him what no institute can teach. Admit it so called educated class isn’t ready to accept Pakistan’s majority is rural and illiterate and support PPP and its leaders.

    Why Expat Pakistanis support liberal democratic governments in foreign lands but prefer dictators back home, why this hypocrisy?

  48. Bangash says:
    August 15th, 2010 3:07 am

    Western leaders still trust Pakistan Army more than PPP, which is why they include visits to GHQ in every tour, with appearances with Zardari and Co just for photo-op purposes.

    The only lessons Zardari has learned is to illegally collect wealth and hide in his palaces. He doesn’t care for Pakistani awam and his junkets abroad, while Pakistanis drown, proved it. Zardari’s callous and dismissive view of Pakistani suffering is among the reasons for the lack of aid from international community.

    PPP drones are blind to all of this, but nation and media rightfully condemned the non-performance of PPP in this crisis and sheer disrespect to national suffering shown by PPP feudal lords.

  49. amk says:
    August 15th, 2010 7:53 am

    i was a little lost in my own thesis of mind but coming out of it was not pleasant. i had the news of flood, the president’s tour and shoe throwing incident. i feel it very inclined to agree to Owais on this

    “We should all be embarrassed and ashamed for having created a polity where someone would be compelled to throw a shoe at the President of the country while on foreign soil and where some (maybe even many) at home would celebrate this act!”

    but, this is where all the things come to a dead end. you talk about the polity having reached its ‘death’ time due to elements like corruption, lack of understanding of the mission by both, media and politicians. i wonder, if this polity ever got a start?

    in a country like ours, where we have diverse cultures and variant demographic polities, a more academic approach is needed to understand the problems. do you believe that a nation can really be forced to act like a nation under our constitution which itself fails to define the concept of nation? the constitution which declares who muslims are and who aren’t? i wonder which way are we moving? have our constitutional experts failed to understand the fact that they need to come up with the originality keeping the demographic variance in mind?\

    i know my ideas are not well jolted at the moment but all i wanted to say was that i’ve loved pakistaniat.com over the years and i’d appreciate if you can address the core issue of constitutional failure in the future posts. this is huge and the readers need to understand what has caused this polity to fail.


  50. Meengla says:
    August 15th, 2010 8:51 am

    A couple of points lost in all this: Why the Pakistani population did not mobilize en mass the way they did post 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan?

    Sure, it must be Zardari’s fault. He probably demoralized the entire country by going abroad at this time.

    It must also be Zardari’s fault that, come the holy month of Ramadan, prices of food items go through the roof in the Land of the Pure. Contrast that with what happens around Christmas in Western countries and you will see that Zardari is no exception or exceptionally ‘corrupt’ in the Land of the Pure.

    The ‘whole’ media and blogspace may be unanimous against Zardari but what then is new?! The fact is in the recent by-elections the PPP got tens of thousands of votes from the poor of Pakistan even in Punjab. Surely, you can’t fool all the people all the time?

    Other than the visit to the Chateau I see no problem in Zardari going abroad especially considering that his presence in Pakistan would have hardly made a difference; in fact, to provide him the ‘security detail’ against Taliban would have very expensive and hindrance to relief effort.

    PS. Having followed the blogspace, I can tell you that since someone threw shoes at Bush there are plenty of Pakistanis wanting to do the same on Zardari. So what’s new?!

    PPS. Good question by @Neena: How come the expats are so hell bent on supporting dictators in Pakistan?

  51. Pakistani says:
    August 16th, 2010 8:09 pm

    All the cynical idiots who think they are Oo soo kool because they can bad mouth their own country and spread negative feelings about their own country should now feel real good. Because of them now the international community is reluctant to help flood victims in Pakistan.

    “No, Pakistan cannot be trusted,” they all say.
    “why?” you ask. “Who told you so.”
    “Hey, every Pakistani I have ever met told me tale after tale about how bad Pakistan is, how corrupt its leaders are, how dispicable its society is.” They say, “So, if Pakistanis don’t trust Pakistan, how can you expect me to.”

    Prof. Najam askes “Who is embarrassing Paksitan.” I say all of us. BUt now we know what the cost of this behavior is. Enjoy your shoe throwing everyone. because of YOU some child who could have been saved, will not! You think THAT is kool!

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