President Zardari and resolution of crises

Courtesy:- Rakshanda Rakhshy

Some were predicting a showdown between the judiciary and the executive, while others talked openly of the armed forces stepping forward and taking care of matters

The whole country was in the grip of a crisis and extreme tension mounted in the minds of every Pakistani on June 23, 2012 when the Supreme Court disqualified the sitting prime minister and a sudden vacuum was created in the political arena. All of a sudden, the country was without a chief executive and head of government, and it seemed as if the government was about to collapse and the whole system would come down like a house of cards. Dismay and frustration prevailed amongst the masses and it looked as though once again the democratic journey of our nation would be discontinued and some unconstitutional measures might be taken by unscrupulous persons to benefit those who would like to see the people back in the lap of dictators or other non-elected, non-representative persons. The hype created by some anchors on the media and other political pseudo-experts and pundits of doom, who were shouting hoarse that the government would collapse, and some were even urging the armed forces to step forward and fill the so called vacuum created by the exit of the prime minister, all proved premature. Others were hoping that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would ask the army to come and help to implement the decisions of the Supreme Court. Indeed, it was a very difficult and confusing situation and everyone (except the president of Pakistan as was proved later by his calm and cool handling of the situation) was at their wits’ end to find a safe, convenient and honourable way out of the dilemma.

Some were predicting a showdown between the judiciary and the executive, while others talked openly of the armed forces stepping forward and taking care of matters. Some wanted the assemblies dissolved and new elections called immediately and still others were hoping that the president would immediately form an interim government of experts (some sort of a national government of all parties inside and outside parliament), and later decide on what to do about solving the problem on a long-term basis. However, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, the President of Pakistan, knew that the solution to the problem lay in the democratic system itself and quickly made his own simple plan to resolve the crisis in the most peaceful and convenient method by democratic means. He moved surely and confidently, called emergent meetings of his aides and political advisers, and worked out a plan, which was implemented with precision and speed. Soon after bringing a consensus among the coalition partners on how to handle the situation in a democratic style, a session of parliament was called to elect a new leader of the house. While the preparations were afoot for the session of the National Assembly, the majority party was in consultations for electing their parliamentary leader, and very quickly, three names were finalised for consideration by the house. With one as the main candidate and two covering candidates, the Pakistan People’s Party was ready to go in for the contest when another upset was created by the sudden possibility of arrest of the favourite candidate and there had to be a last minute change in the priority list. However, the matter was again skilfully handled and the name of the probable finalised again with skill and precision as in the earlier case.

While the president was carrying out his exercise to ensure the continuity of the democratic process, other political local and foreign ill wishers of the country were trying equally hard to somehow ensure that the democratic journey should end and we return to the non-constitutional and autocratic rule of unscrupulous individuals and groups. The surprising thing was that even some very senior and seasoned political persons became captive to the silly game of enemies of the state and gave supportive statements that would have eventually damaged the national cause. Nonetheless, the President of Pakistan, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, showed tremendous presence of mind and political maturity and moved with the skill and precision of an expert surgeon, steering the political process in the right direction and got it out of the political stalemate with great speed. This was indeed to the dismay of his adversaries who were just waiting for the system to collapse and give them an opportunity to play their dirty games. It was also to the surprise of his well-wishers, who were equally disturbed and anxiously waiting for a quick and satisfactory solution to the stalemate.

Within a period of three to four days, the political system took its logical course, and parliament elected its leader of the house, who was immediately sworn in, along with his cabinet, to resume the normal functions of government.

Is this not a tribute to the political will of that one man who showed farsightedness, maturity, a focused approach, commitment to the democratic process and continuation of our journey on the democratic path? The biggest tribute to the masterly handling of the situation and speedy return to normalcy came from our eastern neighbour, where the media was pleasantly surprised to notice the resilience in our political system, which was thought to be immature and in its infancy as compared to their own. It is thanks to the president of Pakistan who has frustrated the designs of his enemies and shown to the world that if handled properly, democracy has its own inbuilt system of finding solutions to problems that arise. The only condition is that those in power should not panic and should let the system find its own solution in a peaceful manner. It is not how long democracy has been in operation but how firmly you are committed to it as a process that matters.


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