Dubai Challo: Pakistan’s New Political Center?

Posted on July 14, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Pakistanis Abroad, Politics
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Adil Najam

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We know that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari prefer Dubai as a ‘neutral’ meeting ground. Last week Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani and his entourage, including Information Minister Sherry Rehman, made a very public stop-over in Dubai to meet Asif Ali Zardari and family and (presumably) discuss important policy issues. Now, one reads that national security chief and de facto Interior Minister, Rahman Malik, is rushing to Dubai to discuss even more important policy matters.

One doubts that these are just “routine” meetings. One expects that there are many other important political meetings that one does not even hear about. Deservedly or not, this leaves one wondering whether Dubai, and not Islamabad, is the new center of Pakistan politics.

Dubai has long been central to all things Pakistani (!). And not just because of the large and increasingly influential Pakistani diaspora that resides there.

Economically, more and more Pakistani ‘transactions’ now happen in Dubai. Its just a short flight away (short enough to feel like a domestic flight), foreigners who feel more comfortable meeting in Dubai, economic transactions are easier and safer to make, and more and more Pakistani companies (and, actually, Western companies) are setting up shop in Dubai.

Politically, it has been home to key political exiles from Pakistan and it seems that even politicians not (yet) in exile set up home there… just in case! It is also a convenient and comfortable “negotiating ground”, whether it be for Musharraf-Benazir negotiations or Zardari-Sharif ones. Indeed, Dubai is a major ‘Pakistani’ news center, not just because our important TV channels are located there, but because so much actual political news happens there!

Yet, while the PPP, as a party, being run out of Dubai was understandable while Benazir Bhutto was alive and unable to be in Pakistan, it feels distinctly odd when it seems that the PPP is running the government of Pakistan from Dubai.

I am quite convinced that this is, in fact, not the case. I sympathize with the fact that Mr. Zardari is in Dubai for personal, and reportedly health, reasons. He has as much right to do so as any other Pakistani. More, maybe, because he has homes in Dubai. I can also appreciate his wanting to be near his children over their summer break and can understand a fatherly concern about not wanting his children to be in Islamabad in the midst of the political limelight, intrigue, pressures, and insecurity that would be lavished on them. There is plenty of good reason for him to be in Dubai, even for long periods. Especially, since as Party co-Chairman, he is not really compelled to sit in a government office in Islamabad.

Having said that, however, the frequent and very public visits of those of his party colleagues who are now public servants (e.g., the Prime Minister, the Information Minister, etc.) to meet him in Dubai to discuss matters of political urgency leaves a bad taste and a palpable impression that matters of importance to the Pakistani public are far removed not only from the people, but even from the country’s Capital.

Whatever else it may be, it is not good politics. For that reason alone, it should be avoided.

47 responses to “Dubai Challo: Pakistan’s New Political Center?”

  1. Aqil Sajjad says:

    Someone told me that a Geo reporter once said that there was very tight security and reporters were not allowed to go near the rooms where the meetings were held. However, just from outside the security cordon, he saw two foreigners with Zardari.
    So one possible theory is that some foreigners (usually American) participate in these meetings, and Dubai or London are chosen so that the participation of these outsiders does not get widely reported.

    Another theory of course is that they want to avoid being heard by Pakistani intelligence agencies. However, this is strange because how do they know they are not being bugged by some non-Pakistani intelligence agencies? If these meetings really cover something very sensative, then is it a good idea to have them outside Pakistan and run the risk of it being heard by other countries?

  2. Aamir Ali says:

    Khilafat!! the new fantasy now being chased by Pakistanis. First Pakistanis were sold the idea that dictatorship is good for them, they bought it. Then they were sold the idea democracy is good for them, they bought it. Now they are being sold the idea of Khilafat and Pakistanis are buying again.

    One day Inshallah, I will sell Pakistan to the Pakistanis. I hope I make lots of cash!

  3. Jaffar says:

    Dubai – The New Pakistani Capitol
    Is it official? If not? When? At least all the Pakistani State decsissions and business is run from Dubai ny King Shah Zardari. It does have major Pakistani TV channels. Lets merge Dubai into Pakistan and call it West Pakistan as it lies West of Pakistan(i.e East Pakistan).

  4. Shafiq says:

    MHC Niazi says that the only solution is the Khalafat.

    Maybe but then who would be the Khalifa?

    Regrettably our masses would choose another Musharaff, Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, Ghilani, Leghari, and the list is endless or it could be one of their children!!!

    The reality is there is no-one who has the qualities to be a Khalifa!!!!

  5. fatima says:

    well i was talking abt that Mahater muhammad

    and abt that happeneing again
    well i dont think u remember wen musharraf made trips to foriegn countries with alot of people
    and telling eveyone about the excessive use of petrol by our chief justice

    i m not saying that this gov is better than musharraf’s
    they are the same
    musharraf did no gud to us
    and he is still sitting on the president seat(wonder y)
    and this govt is definately not doing any gud

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