The three stooges around the presidentDecember 29, 2009
ISLAMABAD: The question everyone in the country and abroad is asking after President Asif Ali Zardariís defiant Naudero speech on Sunday is who are his close advisers who have pushed him into this state of mind. At least three close associates have been identified as those poisoning the top man against the Pakistan Army and the superior judiciary.
They are also said to be encouraging him to play the disastrous Sindh card. Sources confided to The News that two doctors, one from the interior Sindh and the other from Karachi, and a PIA pilot, hailing from Sindh, are the three characters, who have been heard by different sources while telling President Asif Ali Zardari that the Pakistan Army is all out against him and would target him anytime.
This group of three, the sources said, usually surrounds the president and keeps on poisoning him with the kind of ‘threats’ that do not exist in reality. However, it makes the president fearful of his fate and leaves him with no option but to say strange things publicly like that no one would force him to quit and that he could be removed from the Presidency in an ambulance.
Some journalists too have been approached by the president, sharing his serious fears about the Pakistan Army. President Zardari has been made mistrustful to the extent allegedly by this group of three that he does not hesitate to tell people even on phone that the Army is coming to target him (Zardari).
Presidency spokesman Farhatullah Babar when approached denied this and categorically said: ‘This is absolutely wrong.’ He said that he never saw or heard anyone to have been saying any such thing to the president. ‘I completely deny this’, he said, adding this is all rumour mongering and propagated by those, who are against the Presidency.
When asked to identify such elements, he said: ‘I would not like to pre-judge.’ Babar said one of the doctors, blamed to be the member of ‘a gang of three’, did not visit the Presidency for the last 15 days and is not the kind of soul that could do what is associated with him. About the other doctors, who is a permanent resident of the Presidency, Babar said he was also never heard of talking such things.
Babar, however, did not say anything about the PIA employee. Sources, however, said the president is told that besides the Army, the superior judiciary is also against him. The government reluctance to follow the Supreme Courtís judgment on the NRO in letter and spirit is also said to be the consequence of the unfounded fears that the judiciary has made up its mind to remove Asif Ali Zardari from the presidency.
A military source said the top military command is also concerned over the unsubstantiated and baseless apprehensions that suggest that the Army intents to remove the president. The source said there is a dire need to remove such misconceptions and help build a better understanding between different state institutions.
Although President Zardari has never publicly supported the Sindh Card, it is discussed in the Presidency quite often than seldom. The provocative statements issued by Dr Zulfikar Mirza, Raja Riaz and other PPP leaders are said to be part of a strategy to pre-empt the fear-based future happening.
The Sindh Card came into play after the Supreme Courtís judgment on the NRO. However, looking at the facts of the case, there seems no rationale of using the Sindh Card vis a vis the apex court.
It is, however, generally believed that the conspiracy mantra of the Presidency is an effort to divert the people’s attention from the the serious implications of the SC’s judgment that has left the President really worried as the reopening of Swiss cases would possibly lead to his political death.
No matter what the president and his associates say, there is hardly any one to believe this, as judiciary is performing in a wonderful manner whereas the military has shown no sign of disapproval to the democratic system rather has been fully supporting so far. Many see President Zardari and his style of governance as the major threat to the system.
Irrespective of the impression that was being created, Punjab was the most irrelevant in the NRO case. Not only that two petitioners – Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Roedad Khan — who had challenged the NRO were from Frontier. Dr Mubashir Hasan lives in Lahore, he is not Punjabi but an Urdu speaking.
It is worth mentioning here that the 17-member bench of the Supreme Court that decided the fate of the NRO included the representation from all provinces with three honourable judges from Sindh. The bench also included three honourable judges from Balochistan, four from the NWFP and seven from the Punjab and all of the judges with consensus held the NRO void ab initio. During the proceedings of the petitions against the NRO, the judges made it clear that the court was not hearing the cases against any particular personality.
Moreover the lawyers who argued the most against the NRO, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, also hailed from Sindh and is considered more Sindhi than Asif Ali Zardari. The counsel who represented the federation, Kamal Azfar also did not defend the NRO before the Supreme Court. Kamal Azfar is also from Sindh. Advocate General, Sindh Yousaf Leghari, who is also from Sindh, was given opportunity to explain the position of his province in the apex court but he did not defend the National Reconciliation Ordinance.
Additionally, the three-member bench constituted by the Supreme Court to hear the appeals of NAB cases and the ex-beneficiaries of the NRO does not include any judge from the Punjab. It is led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is from Balochistan, and include Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Anwar Zaheer, both of whom are from Sindh.