Army and Zardari: A handshake, not a Fistfight!
Daily Times, December 24, 2009
Pakistan’s security establishment should have no problem in coexisting with a president who co-chairs the country's largest political party. They must admit that losing political calm in these crucial years is not an option
‘Coup’ is the most popular four-letter word in Pakistan these days. It is on everyone’s lips. An outright military takeover, a sudden political change, ouster of President Asif Ali Zardari, formation of a national government – all sorts of scenarios are being debated in all four corners of Pakistan. It is almost as if a military-backed change has become an inevitable, imagined reality. The only question that remains is its shape and form.
Seemingly what has triggered this flight of analytical imagination is the Supreme Court’s verdict against the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). But at a deeper level, the issue is not about 17 judges’ judicial slant against a sitting government – the allegation that is so rife in the PPP’s inner circles. It is about a complete breakdown of trust between Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence establishment and President Asif Ali Zardari.
The history of this mistrust is well known. It is born of the peculiar circumstances that threw up Mr Zardari as an accidental choice for the highest office in Pakistan. While the election of the president was beyond reproach and procedurally correct, concerns were common in the military establishment about Mr Zardari’s competence and qualification for the job. These in part related to his inglorious record, and in part his exceptional closeness to the American power brokers – something he did not hide, and in fact wore on his chest as a badge of honour.
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