The PPP CEC comedy – by Fasi Zaka

From The News Archives, April 08, 2010

One of the staples of comedy is the relationship of someone in power with a sycophant. “Yes Minister” on the BBC, “Guest House” on PTV and numerous others did a good job of satirising this.

I wish there had been a comic at hand to see the workings of the CEC by the PPP. He or she would have had enough material to make a funny, but tragic, play. We blame Asif Ali Zardari a lot, but if truth be told his CEC bears a lot of responsibility for continuously misguiding him.

In their recent meeting, someone had the gall to suggest that the Swiss cases against the president were the equivalent of desecrating Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s grave. Whichever member said this probably had others nodding in solemn agreement. How exactly they made this relationship is unclear. I am sure no court has ever suggested that Z A Bhutto was corrupt and hid money in Switzerland. Or are they suggesting the law takes its course in a way Z A Bhutto would disapprove of? I think not.

Comically, while talking to the press, the prime minister said that the PPP respects the courts, presumably he also meant the courts he thought were desecrating the grave of the founder of their party. But again, according to reports, in the CEC meeting they went on to grandiosely phrase an ongoing (sic) “judicial murder” of Nusrat Bhutto (who is very much alive) because old cases have been reopened.

Then of course, a major punch line. They all agreed that after the 18th Amendment is passed and the president stripped of his powers, they would still want everything to be decided by Asif Ali Zardari. Again I am sure everyone nodded their head in solemn agreement, as if something holy was being said. So much for the sincerity of the proposed reforms.

In addition, a news report also mentions the desire of some CEC members to give a “big title” to the president for bringing the Constitution back to its original form. Have mercy on us, please.

If anything, Asif Ali Zardari has the unfortunate distinction of having a CEC that in its gutlessness is hurting him. In the two years of this government, the multiple instances of backtracking on ill-thought-out initiatives should have wizened them up by now.

It won’t happen if their meetings are like this with CEC members feeding his ego and trying to outdo one another in flattery. If anything, they should learn from the example of their arch-enemy Musharraf. His last three years in power were immensely damaging to the country, so much so that the current government’s corruption and mismanagement are still an improvement over what he was doing.

But what undid him was not some CEC of his own, but the industrial and agricultural giants of Pakistan who fed his ego in slavish obsequiousness. They are called the PML-Q.

Again, it’s important to note what the PPP has achieved. A reasonable NFC Award, taking terrorism seriously, thinking of the provinces and, most recently, the constitutional reform package. But to sustain itself, and prevent being thoroughly routed in the next elections as a provincial party, this is not enough.

We have three years to go. Nothing has been articulated for them. It’s as if the vision made for the country is done so on a month-to-month basis. Major moves in energy have not panned out, in fact even been proven corrupt. Ministerial members who do come forward for the party do a terrible job.

With the population growing, what’s the only thing on the mind of Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan? Making sure Sania Mirza has birth control pills? Actually, yes.

It’s true there is a witch-hunt in some parts of the press against the PPP, partly motivated by journalists who have become mouthpieces for the PML-N. That being said, the PPP has made it incredibly easy for them by giving enough ammunition for their charges to hold water. Partisanship is easily proven by an innocent party. That luxury is not available to the PPP. They have three years, time to step up.