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Leader of the Pak

With the stroke of a pen, Zardari has curbed his own powers. What’s next? Asif as Haroun al-Rashid?

india Updated: Apr 20, 2010 21:51 IST

He may have been Mr 10 per cent earlier, but now he is Mr 100 per cent. Yes, we are referring not to Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari’s skimming propensities but his support of democracy. Not one to do things in small percentages, he has signed away his sweeping powers in a bid to bolster democracy. Let’s hope the Pakistanis are not found wanting in gratitude for this gesture, but then again kvetchers and grumblers may find a thing or two awry in his grand plan.

Some Cassandra may find it a bit odd that Asif was champing at the bit to lead the country no sooner was his wife cold in her grave. That he did not exactly wait around for the people’s verdict before he leapt into the hot seat. But, then we, the less skeptical, are sure that he had the best interests of democracy at heart. Which probably explains why despite somewhat curtailed executive powers, he can remain leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for life. And don’t think we don’t appreciate the democratic manner in which he pushed his son into the chairmanship of the PPP despite the fact that the lad is still studying at Oxford. Does Bilawal know about the workings of the party or indeed life in Pakistan? No, but that did not stop Asif from turning out to be such a splendid leader, did it? Yes, he may have put in a few more shekels than strictly legit in the offshore account, but what the heck, one never knows when a rainy day may come upon one.

Now that these onerous presidential responsibilities like the power to sack the prime minister and so on are off his Savile Rowed shoulders, Asif can focus on pressing issues, or perhaps issues on which the Yanks are putting the squeeze on him. And now that his finger is off the nuclear button, he doesn’t have to worry about being buttonholed about bombs in the basement. What next? Asif as Haroun al-Rashid?