You Dare Not Insult Britain, Mr. Zardari

Posted by Ahmed Quraishi on Aug 5th, 2010

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Pakistan is the only country in the world whose politicians are more rooted in London than Islamabad

Pakistan is the only country in the world whose politicians are more rooted in London than Islamabad


Mr. Zardari is launching his son’s political career from England. London is the ‘safe haven’ where Pakistani politicians come to stash their loot and plot mayhem back home. Bilawal might need to seek refuge in London [or in France, Dubai and New York City, where his dad owns properties, lucky him]. Do Pakistanis really believe their president will take Mr. Cameron to task?


Thursday, 5 August 2010.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—There is a reason why our President Asif Ali Zardari is in England without an invitation from the British government and despite the insults. The latest one came just yesterday, when Mr. Cameron gave BBC another sugar-coated spin on Pakistan’s alleged double game, timed to preempt his informal dinner meeting with Mr. Zardari.

In Mr. Zardari’s company, the British premier is in safe hands. You see, no Pakistani politician can dare alienate Britain. Pakistan is probably the only nation in the world whose ruling elite has more roots in London than in Islamabad. Our politicians rely on London to find a safe haven for their loot after every stint in power [Mr. Zardari is the first one to make a foray into America for this purpose, in addition to London]. This is where many of them maintain their assets and their private lives. And it is London [along with Washington] that often steps in to help them back into power. [Exhibit A: the infamous US-UK-Musharraf deal that shaped the incumbent Pakistani political (dis)system.]

What Pakistani politician would dare criticize Britain, even after a major insult? It is unfair to criticize Mr. Zardari alone. Do we think Mr. Rehman Malik would do it? He has property and business in London. Do we think Mr. Nawaz Sharif would do it? Do we think Mr. Asfandyar Wali would do it?

Where is, by the way, Mr. Wali, ANP’s godfather and the self-styled ‘linguistic’ leader [so many of them in Pakistan] when an important part of our homeland the Pakhtun Khwa province faces a horrendous humanitarian crisis?

Let me guess: London? Oops.

Our president is in England not because he was invited and had to go. According to the British media, he is there to launch his son’s career. This impression is strengthened by a statement from another Zardari loyalist announcing that president’s elder daughter is also ready to enter ‘practical politics’.  And it’s stunning how the British media is probing this anomaly while our own Pakistani media is generally silent on this aspect of the visit. There’s no one here to ask the question: Why launch your offspring’s political careers in London and not in Islamabad or Larkana, for example? Is it because Larkana, where four Bhuttos are buried, is an example of neglect and stagnation despite four stints in power by the party that rules in that city’s name?

The British prime minister must be having a hard time taking Mr. Zardari’s ‘official’ visit seriously. After all, here’s a man whose political survival depends on London’s goodwill. He knows it. British government knows it. This is the same Britain that played a crucial role alongside Washington in shaping the incumbent ruling coalition in Pakistan and helped it survive in the face of a suspicious military establishment.  

Pakistanis expecting Mr. Zardari to counter Mr. Cameron’s anti-Pakistan remark are expecting too much. He is launching his son’s career – to rule Pakistan – in England, for God’s sake.

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