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Is Asif Ali Zardari afraid of accountability?


News Analysis |

Former President Asif Ali Zardari has once again grilled the alleged ‘hidden forces’ on Sunday. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader in a press conference in Tando Allah Yar reportedly said that his party did not want institutions to be weakened because “there is another aggressive force”.

Mr. Zardari said that the party had accepted Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death and didn’t fight against it because it did not want institutions to be weakened. “We still don’t want them to be weakened,” he asserted, describing the ‘force’ as one that possesses a “junooni soch (aggressive ideology)”.

Political commentators believe that the military and judiciary are deliberately brought into a well-thought trap of the politicians in the times of political uncertainty which helps them justify their corruption.

Without naming any political leader or state institution, Mr. Zardari said that people are against him because of the 18th amendment. “They are pressuring me. Even if I agree to their demands, the party, Sindh, Punjab, and KP won’t agree with it,” he said.

Mr. Zardari was apparently alluding to the country’s establishment for its alleged political engineering in the country. He maintained that his party always tried not to encourage them. “That is why we always give [them] leverage and space,” the PPP leader said, adding: “They have the wrong impression that we  do so because we are fearful or wish to take power away from them.” He also demanded neutrality from the military establishment with regard to the politics. “We only want neutrality from them. We can take power on our own.”

Read more: Did Zardari confess to fake accounts on live Tv?

For many analysts, Mr. Zardari is politically insecure and very desperate to seek a deal from the sitting government or the military establishment to evade ongoing cases against him. It is a general perception that PPP did not support the candidate of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for PM after the General Elections 2018 in order to give a goodwill gesture to the PTI’s government. But later on, Mr. Zardari realized that his desired political ends were not to be attained in the present political context and he started exploring new ways to maintain his political relevance.

It is also important to mention here that the FIA is currently investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from ‘fictitious accounts’, including Mr. Zardari and his sister Ms. Faryal Talpur. Mr. Zardari’s close aide Hussain Lawai was arrested last month in connection with the probe. The former president’s other close aide and Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and his sons have also been arrested by FIA.

Mr. Zardari is alleging the ‘hidden power’ of conspiring against his party and asserting that attempts are being made to revert the 18th amendment.

Over 20 ‘benami’ accounts at some private banks were opened in 2013, 2014, and 2015 from where transactions worth billions of rupees were made, according to sources. The amount, according to FIA sources, is said to be black money gathered from various kickbacks, commissions, and bribes.

It is seen in Pakistan that politicians blame the military or judiciary whenever they face corruption cases. The recent example is the formation of JIT and a verdict against the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Mr. Sharif was declared as dishonest and untruthful by the apex court, but along with his party, he established an anti-army narrative in order to prove his innocence. Political commentators believe that the military and judiciary are deliberately brought into a well-thought trap of the politicians in the times of political uncertainty which helps them justify their corruption.

Read more: JIT probing Zardari asks for Sindh Government’s record

Mr. Zardari is alleging the ‘hidden power’ of conspiring against his party and asserting that attempts are being made to revert the 18th amendment. As a matter of fact, PTI government does not have enough majority in the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan to repeal the amendment. Therefore, such allegations by the former president are said to be politically motivated.