I remember a man who was tortured inhumanly; who had spent a decade of his life in jail but emerged victorious and became the most powerful President of the country yet adopted a policy of reconciliation instead of revenge.
Asif Ali Zardari- a much charitable man, whose image was deliberately marred by the jealous elements, who was kept in jail, away from his children for almost a decade on false charges, magnanimously presided over the country for five years. Many advised him to make counter moves against those who tortured him, and those who were responsible for wasting the prime of his life in jail, but he always shunned these suggestions with a smile saying that “rivals are unwise, but I am not”. Near him only a debase man will take revenge when comes in power.
Today he is retiring from the post of President of Pakistan but without carrying anything bad with him while his worst enemies enjoyed full freedom and liberty during his tenure. Even as President of Pakistan he listened to all criticisms with a generous heart and never tried to shut the mouths even of those who spoke against him just for the sake of the malice they had for him.
He saved Pakistan from break-up by raising the slogan of “Pakistan Khappay” (Long Live Pakistan) when the enraged political activists raised the slogan of “Pakistan Na Khappay” in reaction to the assassination of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi. Despite being armed with tremendous powers as he took the oath of President of Pakistan, he never exercised them against his rivals. He always despised these powers that a dictator had given to the slot of President by snatching those from the parliament of Pakistan. Willingly one by one he transferred all the powers to the parliament in order to restore true democracy in Pakistan. Throwing out a dictator from power, amending the constitution of Pakistan as per the demand of the people of Pakistan and restoring the constitution to its original form, Asif Ali Zardari proved himself to be the guardian of democracy in the country.
In 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari took office with critical challenges at hand. Among them “making democratic institutions stronger and more transparent”, “stabilizing the country’s economy”, “creating a government of inclusion”, and “combating extremism and creating a culture of moderation” were his top priorities. Thus President Asif Ali Zardari followed and implemented Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s policy of reconciliation taking all the parties, opponents and allies, on board to combat the current challenges and to work together for political stability in the country. Under the wise and visionary leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari it happened for the first time in the history of Pakistan that all political parties were gathered on the same table to convert Pakistan into a democratic federation; a peaceful, prosperous and tolerant society; and a viable State capable of establishing the rule of law, and delivering basic services to its citizens.
Swat was in the hands of terrorists, FATA was bleeding and suicide bombings were taking place almost daily from Khyber to Karachi. None was safe even inside the Mosques, Imam Bargahs, Schools, Hospitals and markets – a situation of agony was looming, the dictator had turned the country into a hub of terrorism and extremism. President Asif Ali Zardari gave a strong political will to Pakistani forces and encouraged them in fighting against terrorism and extremism for the stability of Pakistan. Rule of law soon was restored in Swat, and the dream of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, who had pledged to bring peace and flag of Pakistan back to the valley of Swat and FATA, was fulfilled.
From the very beginning, before Zardari had any opportunity to make any political mistakes at all, cynics affirmed “the Asif Ali Zardari-led set-up” will not last long. Five years of the elected democratic coalition government completed making futile, all notorious efforts of mischief-mongers. The non-state actors as Zardari used to call them or “Pseudo political analysts” sitting in televisions talk shows were giving dates for the termination of his political government but all were proved incorrect. Democracy became more stronger than ever before in Pakistan and it delivered much, though it would have delivered better if the PPP government was not surrounded by multiple conspirators and the country was not confronted with the evil of terrorism
Surely the credit goes to President Asif Ali Zardari that for the first time in the history of Pakistan a publically democratic government completed its constitutional tenure of five years. It would not have been possible without the visionary and farsighted policy of reconciliation of President Asif Ali Zardari. For a better, democratic and peaceful Pakistan, Zardari put his ego behind and never inflicted harm on those who had caused him much harm his life. He respected his opponents for the sake of Pakistan and forgave his enemies only for the cause of strengthening democracy. In his five years, it was for the first time in Pakistan that there was not a single political prisoner behind bars. If there was a single instance, it was the minister of his own government and MNA from his own party PPP.
In very true spirit President Asif Ali Zardari loved and treasured the democracy. He proved himself to be the leader of a party which is the single voice of the working class, oppressed section of our society and poor men and women of our country. Through Benazir income support program he strengthened the poor women and snatched the beggar’s bowl from their hands. The tribesmen were given freedom by bringing amendments into FCR and to Gilgit-Baltistan he gave powers and autonomy. To Pashtun he gave the identity by naming their province as per their desire since making of Pakistan. To the people of Baluchistan due respect was given. In his five years of government the salaries of working class were increased by more than 200 % in order to bring happiness and joys in their lives and to ease their burden.
President Asif Ali Zardari ignored all pressures from the West and inaugurated the Pak-Iran gas pipeline in order to cater to the country’s energy crisis forever. Many projects were initiated for catering Pakistan’s energy crisis that would be completing in the tenure of this government and cashing its credit.
In the history of Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari’s era shall be written in golden words for his services for strengthening democracy, federation of Pakistan and the poor oppressed sections of Pakistani society. His era shall be remembered for compassionating the poor women and serving orphaned children, empowering small provinces, respecting minorities, and for reconciliation, tolerance and political harmonization.
PPP former MNA and President adviser on media Ms Farahnaz Ispahani commenting on fresh elections in the country said “President Asif Ali Zardari’s era not only heralded fortification of democracy but also symbolized a strong federation wherein he had the support of every province and the mandate of all political schools of thought, in stark contrast to the present support of one single largest province of the country.”
Bravo Mr. President, you up righted our heads in five years as President of Pakistan.
The writer is a citizen of the tribal areas- an expert on FATA and a worker of PPP. He can be reached on email@example.com and on twitter @RiazToori