Asif Ali Zardari is serious about his return to politics. But is hosting a talk show, the best way to do that?
That he has chosen a channel rumoured to have the support of powers-that-be, underscores the seriousness of his mission. Especially given the recent comments from his former ambassador about what the then president knew about the CIA-JSOC presence in the country during his tenure. With this set-up, everyone is a winner. For Zadari’s part, what better platform from which to launch his own bid to return to political power? Already there have been murmurings of contesting a by-election that will send him to the National Assembly. It remains to be seen whether he will use his weekly slot to become the electronic face of Bilawal’s own electoral campaign, which he hopes will take straight to PM House. But one thing is clear: Zardari’s outburst two years ago against an ever-aggressive Army interfering in the politics of the country are all but forgotten. Also seemingly forgotten is the very hard work that goes into electioneering. One has to wonder where the PPP co-Chairman will find the time?
He is sharing the screen, as it were, with Gen Musharraf. The latter has pledged to return to Pakistan to face all pending charges against him provided the Army arranges for top-notch security. Yet if the tenets of a free and fair trial are to up upheld — this must surely extend to not allowing a defendant to actively using the media to influence hearings in his favour. These two can count as their colleagues Tahir-ul-Qadri, the Canada-based cleric who sat alongside Imran Khan in the massive move to oust the government almost three years ago. The PTI’s Shafaqat Mehmood and the PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira are also being given airtime. Yet if Zardari believes that this uniting on a single-point anti-Nawaz agenda is all that is needed to win him votes he might well be in for a rude awakening. For the time of riding the sympathy vote is long gone. It will simply not do to hit the campaign trail by remote control. PPP is in disarray and its vote-bank is frittering away as the recent elections have shown.
The larger question is why should a former President don the mantle of a TV talking head. Mr. Zardari is best advised to focus on the crumbling fortunes of PPP and allow Bilawal to infuse fresh ideas and energy into the party. The sooner that happens the better it will be for the PPP and the country. *