“Do you know why I go abroad on state visits?” asked President Asif Ali Zardari, as he addressed a crowd of thousands in Sindh last week. He then went on to answer his question: “For you, For the poor people of Pakistan. To get them a better deal.” And then the crowd cheered. Such started the circus of Zardari’s “meet the people” campaign — in which he went from one city to another — stretching from Sindh to Punjab in a drive that is being seen as his answer to critics who said he had isolated himself in the Presidency.
Rhetoric aside, the rallies was also a signal to many quarters who seem to be contemplating his removal.
But the opposition PML-N party is not amused.
Ahsan Iqbal, the spokesman for the PML-N says that a president “has to be above board” and should not act like a politician. After all, he argued, as President, Zardari enjoys indemnity from cases that are being opened against other politicians and bureaucrats after the Supreme Court struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance.
Zardari has emerged stronger from his political wanderings. But his rallies were not without incident. In Faisalabad, businessmen ran amok to protest power cut and rising prices. In other places too, there is growing anger at the government’s inability to tackle rising crime and terrorism.
However, to fight against all these problems, Zardari has argued that he must remain in office for at least his term. So far, the people are agreeing with this.