Mr Asif Ali Zardari, you have done it!

Published: September 9, 2013

Mr Zardari embodies that collective survival instinct of the 21st century Pakistan. Good Bye Mr president! PHOTO: AFP

September 8, 2013 is a day for both history and headlines in Pakistan. A historically unprecedented and smooth transfer of presidential power has taken place in our constitutional and political history. There has been no coup d’état by a general, no declaration of emergency, no suspension, abrogation or subversion of the constitution and no declaration of a fifth martial law in the country.

A democratically elected head of state has completed his full term and has vacated the office in line with the theory and practice of constitutional provisions. All the headlines emanating from former president Asif Ali Zardari’s completion of term are unusual because they possess none of the usual political theatrics and shenanigans associated with the vacation and ascension to the presidency of Pakistan. This too, has been a breath of fresh air.

Mr Asif Ali Zardari has epitomised the phrase ‘against all odds’ in our chequered political history.

We really didn’t see him coming; he had nothing from the start that could have elevated him to the highest office of the land. He did not have the backing of khaki guns and boots; he did not have a feudal or urban constituency, or a family career in politics to have elected him to our assemblies; he did not have the vision of Jinnah, the genius of Bhutto or the inherited political legacy and personal aura of his late wife Benazir Bhutto. The only thing to have sealed his fate in politics was matrimony with the most influential political dynasty in the country and with that, he achieved what has previously been unheard of in Pakistan.

Having analysed the situation, it is evident that Mr Zardari possessed just about everything that could guarantee career failure in the cut-throat world of Pakistani politics.

He had to endure massive reputation laundering engineered by his political opponents and the establishment. Moreover, he had to spend years in jail without being convicted of a single charge that was held against him in the court of law. It was only the wave of sympathy following his wife’s assassination that made him a presidential candidate, more by chance than design and when he finally tasted victory, that was only the first glimpse of a deep abyss.

He became the captain of titanic just before it spotted the giant iceberg.

The Pakistan of 2008 was an absolute nightmare; we had a dysfunctional economy and a fractured society bleeding internally from secessionist insurgencies and terrorism. Additionally, we were an international outcast with terrorists trying to take over Islamabad and a belligerent India post Mumbai attacks threatening our eastern border.

Then, added to this were the constant media trials and the massive unpopularity with the masses that didn’t help former president Zardari’s cause either. The opposition lurking in the shadows was always baying for blood with memo gates and NROs and a prime minister had to be a sacrificial goat to keep the ship afloat.

Yet, with his remarkably balanced leadership, legendary political acumen, revolutionary political reconciliation and shrewd statesmanship Asif Ali Zardari made the unusual seem usual. He presided over the first civilian transition of power in the country’s history and lorded over elections that brought his party’s arch rivals back into the saddle. Slowly yet surely, the opposition and the controversy ebbed away until he outplayed every trick of his opponents and is vacating his office in the most normal and legal manner possible without a single hiccup.

The puzzle is now complete. That surely is a monumental political achievement by Pakistani standards.

Yes, I for one can freely admit that the man has no embellished governance record to his credit. It takes no genius to see that he did not preside over an economy with  magical GDP, investment and employment numbers, he did not envision structural reforms for our institutions and society, he did not vanquish terrorism and crime on Pakistani streets and he did not pursue a prolific foreign policy. Moreover,Zardari neither restored our dignity nor our  image in the international arena.

Having said as much, did we ever have an independent foreign policy? Were we ever free of law and order problems? Did we ever see a time where there were no insurgencies? Have we ever had a copious economy that gave the common Pakistanis an equitable and respectable living standard?

Zardari made something happen that should have happened way back in 1951, 1958, 1969, 1977 or even 1999; a constitutional transfer of power from one civilian government to another as ‘elected representatives’ of the Pakistani people.

Mr Asif Ali Zardari embodies that collective survival instinct of the 21st century Pakistan that makes every Pakistani move on even after going through injustice and catastrophe on a daily basis. His legacy is an elected ascension to power, its legal handling and a constitutional transfer of it. He deserved the guard of honour. Goodbye Mr president!


Bilal Mustafa

A law student at Szabist, a proud Karachiite and a cricket buff who loves reading and writing.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Kappa

    Zardari, A President by NRO, started presidency with typical political adventurism by toppling Punjab Government and imposing Governer rule but salute to Nawaz Sharif/ Shahbaz Sharif for the long march which caged Zardari to President house for 5 years.
    Last 5 years will be remembered for the destruction of every institution in Pakistan with levels of corruption never heard before be it PIA, Steel Mills, Railway, Wapda, OGDC, etc etc…Recommend

  • Pappu

    Had Punjab fallen to Zardari (PPP), history would have been completely different.Recommend

  • Sane

    Zardari is among the worst person Pakistan ever had. he promoted corruption and nepotism in Pakistan and destroyed the infrastructure so badly that it would take years to address. In his tenure he assured his best that people of Pakistan must have a miserable life to a maximum. Recommend

  • csmann

    September 8, 2013 is a day for both history and headlines in Pakistan?
    Also a day when Pakistan became the first nation in the history of world to to enact laws to persecute its own citizens(Ahmadis).Recommend

  • Parvez

    This so called achievement has come at what cost ???………. the only thing that has grown in size is the wealth and power of politicians, bureaucrats, the senior armed forces and those who gravitate around them. The country is upto its neck in loans, money which the people never saw ………….. and what is worse it seems this cycle is about to repeat itself unless it self-distructs.
    So do you realy thing this achievement is worth the boom-boom fireworks and guard of honour tamasha we witnessed.

  • Jyala

    We are proud of you Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, You are among the best presidents we ever had, We are living a happy life just beacuse of your policies. Recommend

  • Nb

    @ csmann

    That glorious day would be September 7th,1974.Recommend

  • Keen Observer

    hahahahha, ROFL LITERALLY!!! looks like the author here forgot to write the disclaimer at the end mentioning how this is a piece of satire!!Recommend

  • MA

    your comments are not your fault…..your name suffices your mental caliber, but don’t complain when you get thrashed by other readers.Recommend

  • aqib

    It shows the depravity of our character, if we are celebrating the person mentioned above.Recommend

  • Azeem


  • Sane


    You are living a happy life because of policies of Zardari. You mean you also got the share in his plundering.Recommend

  • Harsh Garg

    Good man the lantern very cool, nice and person with silent character he will win the next election thats for sureRecommend

  • Jyala


    I am living a happy life it doesnt mean I have any connections with the party leadership, Allhamdulilah I am self made and working in a private firm. For your kind information nothing yet has been proved against my leader.Recommend

  • Tappi

    “For your kind information nothing yet has been proved against my leader.”

    This is the beauty of NRO and Mufahamat ki Policy. Dont worry nothing ever will be proved against him or any other politician, bureaucrat, general or any so called VIP in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Oasis

    I honestly think this day should be declared ‘youm-e-nijat’ and celebrated for the years to come!!
    Doesn’t matter if he lasted 5 years, we gained absolutely NOTHING. Zardari has to be one of the most unpopular presidents ever, just read the comments!!Recommend

  • Khalid Khan


    “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”. Your article, unfortunately, has zoomed into that silver lining a thousand times while zooming out of the dark cloud itself by a million times! Dude even wars have a tiny positive side from certain perspectives. So are you going to write an article full of praises and support for them too? Recommend

  • MAD

    I thank Allah for not making me a Jiyala. Atleast i have the capacity to think for myself.Recommend

  • Jyala


    He was in jail for approx. 12 years just because of his political enemies. Despite of constant allegations and criticisms, He kept focus on establishing the true and strong democracy in Pakistan…Recommend

  • Sane


    He kept focus on establishing the true and strong democracy in Pakistan…

    Hey kid! What democracy is? you know? I am sure you are still on baby milk.Recommend

  • Muhammad Saim

    errrrgh…..were you serious, Bilal Mustafa ! sorry am dumb but realy is it a serious piece or a comic !Recommend

  • Sane

    When a student and a cricket buff writes on such personalities shall always write with no rationale.Recommend

  • Tappi


    While he was in jail his wife was Prime Minister of Pakistan. Also what about last 5 years in President House Jail?Recommend

  • Potshots

    @ Sane

    So rude.Recommend

  • sherrry

    @Jyala and author
    in last 5 years how many times your leader has visited FATA as supreme commander of armed forces of pakistan??????
    any reasons / justificationsRecommend

  • Deendayal M.Lulla

    He is the first president of Pakistan to complete the full term of five years. He has done it. The judiciary was after him. He survived. Now,is the litmus test for him. Watch out for the NRO case,if it is revived again,as Mr.Zardari will no longer enjoy presidential immunity.Recommend

  • Ahmad Shah

    I can only hope this is a satirical piece – but it doesn’t seem to read like it.
    Is the author serious?
    If Zardari was a ‘democratically-elected’ president, then Nawaz Sharif is in power because all the votes he ‘got’ are legitimate, from adoring masses swooning at his feet.
    Right …
    Just to address one remarkable paragraph:
    Having said as much, did we ever have an independent foreign policy? Were we ever free of law and order problems? Did we ever see a time where there were no insurgencies? Have we ever had a copious economy that gave the common Pakistanis an equitable and respectable living standard?
    Other than an independent foreign policy (which I agree we’ve never had) we were once on the way to having all the others:
    The sixties were relatively free of law and order problems – you could walk home from Saddar at 2 in the morning in safety. I did so many times, from the Hotel Metropole Disco or the Arts Council or from mushairas in Jacob Lines.
    We had no insurgencies then – although we were sowing the seeds of the Balochistan insurgencies at the time.
    The economy was so strong that Pakistan was the envy of the Gulf States and of South Asia – across all industries and institutions.
    And that in turn had created a vibrant and upwardly moving middle class.
    This is all a matter of historical record – I’m guessing the author is too young to have experienced it. But surely you can research and read about it.
    Zardari deserves a guard of honour … ? For what he was brought in to do to Pakistan?
    Sorry – that was just me choking on my chai … Recommend

  • awais

    well written. I totally agree with you. on the corruption issue, that took place no one denies. what is the supreme court doing then? All cases are in the court but non of the allegations have been proved nor i see any one jailed for 10/15 years. Zardari cannot be blamed for everything. He was a president with no powers. Yes, the government was not the best butGive him the credit of the Gwadar project- gas pipe line with iran and then he gave his powers to the PM. Recommend

  • BrainDeadZombieFreedomFighter

    Not that I agree with the author but why is Zardari blamed for the NRO. Wasn’t it implemented by Musharraf? Secondly Zardari seems to be pictured as the root to all evil in the Pakistani society. What about your all so Noble chief justice and his even nobler son Arsalan? Kya bana uska? How strong are the lower courts of today? The chief justice after all gets so much credit for making the judiciary stronger right? seems to me all the suo motto he takes have an attached escape route with it. Wonder how much he charges for that? Recommend

  • Naqvi Sahb

    I do not understand how the fact that Zardari has survived for five years makes up for his disastrous record in office. Having political instinct doesn’t necessarily make you a good leader; Fazlur Rahman is also very politically shrewd… should he also be praised?

    The fact that, at one point during his presidency, Zardari’s approval rating was only 11% shows us very clearly what average Pakistanis (unlike Bilal Mustafa) think of Zardari. The fact that Mr. Mustafa is a student from SZABIST (a third tier, rabidly pro-PPP institution in Sindh) explains his attitude toward Zardari. Recommend