LAHORE: Asif Ali Zardai retires as President of Pakistan on September 08, 2013 after completing his five-year tenure- the first-ever civilian president to have this honour in the history of Pakistan.
No political figure has faced the quantum of negative propaganda as he did during these five years.
Right from the day he assumed the leadership of PPP after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, hate cannons were directed at him as a favourite target.
He was portrayed in a very negative light, almost as a villain of piece. All kinds of conspiracy theories were fabricated and unleashed against him, some visibly hitting below the belt.
Every word he uttered or step he took was instantaneously dubbed as part of his evil stratagem. Even his most well-intentioned statements were misconstrued by media and so-called ‘social’ media.
Zardari was made the protagonist of every dubious story, sometimes even defying the norms of normal human perception. It seemed as if he was a kind of a superman who cold stage-manage anything under the sun.
Eyebrows were raised when he became the co-Chairperson of PPP and renamed his son after the assassination of the party leader. Propaganda against him took a new momentum after he was elected as the President of Pakistan. The Presidency was dubbed as a hub of conspiracies. Covert and overt moves were made to single out President as the sole source of all troubles.
Zardari’s rise to prominence was interpreted as accidental, and it was prophesized that his political career would be a short-lived phenomenon. Some cynics even did not hesitate to point out that he was a ‘beneficiary’ of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.
With the passage of time, Zardari-bashing became a fashion among the intelligentsia. Media persons and his political opponents missed no opportunity to malign him. Some leaders even said PPP was acceptable sans Zardari.
Roadmap of his collapse was announced by the analysts, and deadlines of his departure were delivered every next month. “Investigative” journalists raised dounts about his mental health.
The fact remains that Asif Ali Zardari did not lose his composure at a time when PPP was going through worst crisis in its history, since the assassination of Z A Bhutto. He, with his coolheaded courage and pragmatic approach, negated all estimates about his political acumen. He disproved the doubts that PPP government would not be able to survive in the absence of high-profile party leadership.
He introduced and pursued the policy of reconciliation with all political forces and offered Olive Branch even to his worse opponents. Zardari had no personal legacy or charisma to his credit but he performed well within his limitations.
He made earnest efforts to bring parties having diverse ideological bents on one platform. Zaradri started from a very fragile foundation but consolidated his position gradually with his down-to-earth approach.
Asif Ali Zardari never enjoyed the status of a top national leader, and he never claimed to be one. He made his mark with his political wisdom, personal humility and an inexhaustible tolerance. Had there been a World Tolerance Award, Zardari must have been among the potential candidates.
His five years as President of Pakistan were by no means an easygoing affair as he faced many daunting challenges, and to media every such challenge was worth his resignation. Defying all estimates about his character and proving predictions about his political career as false, Zardari completes his tenure on Sep 08, 2013. He is leaving the Presidency with grace.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif showed real class as a person and statesman by bidding farewell to Asif Ali Zardari in a very honourable style.
The speech made by Nawaz Sharif on the occasion reflected his magnanimity and generosity of spirit, and it was deservedly admired by everyone. The mood and sentiment at the farewell luncheon was very heartening for the political future of the country. NNI