I disagree for the most part with President Zardari and the policies adopted by his party, I can elaborate on this statement and get into the specifics but that would take us away from the actual discussion, I just wanted to say this right in the beginning to avoid the usual suggestions that I am some undercover “jiala”.
I agree with the popular idea that President Zardari should have cancelled or postponed his trip to France and the UK due to floods in three provinces. I also agree that Pakistan government should have sent a much stronger message in response to the naïve statements made by the British PM David ‘The Gaffe Machine’ Cameron.
Having said all of that I could not disagree more with Imran Khan’s PTI for organizing a protest against President Zardari first in London and then in Birmingham, pictures similar to the one I have posted above were all over the British media. I believe President Zardari must do a much better job as president but no one can deny that he is the duly elected President. PTI supporters carried signs like “King of Corruption” and “Well Done Gen. Pasha” which clearly showed an anti-democracy mindset and I have reasons to doubt the actual motives of these protesters.
PTI has caused Pakistan a great embarrassment by their conduct because we never saw Democrats protesting George Bush in Islamabad, neither did we ever see Tories marching against Blair’s policies in Karachi. Why did PTI and Imran Khan think it was acceptable to embarrass a Pakistani President while he was in a foreign country further weakening his position to present Pakistan’s case? Do these people not understand that irrespective of how you feel, elected representatives of the people of Pakistan will now be representing Pakistan in all international forums, and by attacking them personally these PTI activists are actually hurting Pakistan.
Imran Khan’s PTI decided to demonstrate in London because that was the only way for the party to make its presence felt in the media, had it been Pakistan a group of 10 people would not have gotten any attention, unfortunately 10 people is the most Imran Khan can gather in one place at any given time.
It is unfortunate that most of PTI supporters in the UK are closeted Musharraf fans too, these people try to gain influence back home to obtain petty benefits, some of them dream of returning to Pakistan one day as a Moeen Qureshi or a Shaukat Azziz and that dream can never come true if there is democracy in Pakistan that is why they malign politicians and keep looking for insider deals. Imran Khan presents an interesting option to these people because if he ever cuts a deal with the establishment he will need people to fill in positions in the party and the government and these PTI supporters believe that their time might come then. It is a sad reality but I have based this analysis on many personal interactions with Pakistanis based in the US and UK over the past few years.
When an Iraqi journalist shoe-bombed President Bush it was condemned by all Americans because the President represents the country, however, when unconfirmed reports emerged of a person tossing his shoes in the air in Birmingham during President Zardari’s speech, the story was first twisted to make it sound as if shoes were thrown at President Zardari and then there was a wave of restrained jubilation in the teen-age internet communities most of whom are anti-democracy Musharraf supporters. The media used words like “pelted” and “hurled” to describe the incident making it sound sensational. It was unfortunate to observe this, but I think the President adopted the right strategy by taking the high road and not allowing the attacker to get any attention, because most of these lunatics are looking to gain personal benefits.
I believe domestic politics should be discussed and debated within the country, disagreements over policies should not be used to justify unpatriotic behavior. There shouldn’t be any international wings of Pakistani political parties, because they are only used by ambitious expatriates to have undue influence in Pakistan.
At the same time the government must do a better job at dealing with the crisis in the country and while it is very difficult to improve things in the short-term there must be a distinctly identifiable direction. They also need to communicate with the people more using direct methods such as one-on-one interviews and news paper articles, they should avoid using talk shows and public rallies where the messages are always misconstrued. Threat to Pakistani democracy is more real now then it has been in the past two years and our people must understand that their lives will only become worse if the democratic government gets removed using unconstitutional means. Pakistanis should try to get involved with the legitimate political process to improve its quality instead of supporting dictators who would destroy the country to prolong their time in power just like Gen. Musharraf did.
In the meanwhile, I choose to remain optimistic and Passionate About Pakistan and so should you !!