Eik (one) Zardari 

By Dr Ghayur Ayub

According to news reports, Asif Ali Zardari was advised to tag 'Bhutto' to the name of Belawal at the time of his birth on September 1988 to give continuity of 'Bhutto' legacy. He out-rightly rejected it saying he wanted his children grow up as Zardaris. BB accepted his stance. She saw a strong man in his personality full of determination typifying Sindhi tribal culture submitting to his will. So strong was his hold on her personal life. This was the time when she was just coming out of desperate vulnerability after losing her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) and exposing herself to practical politics. Her father had always been a protective shield for her and she lived under his shadow. AAZ came in her life when she needed a strong man to lean on. A brawny AAZ replaced a strong ZAB; a husband replaced a father. Some might say that nature didn't play a fair game with her.

When she was building her political career as the youngest Muslim prime minister of a major Muslim country; her husband was busy building his career in making quick buck through corruption. Soon, he became known as Mr.10% eroding her political image. When she was told about his corrupt practices, she found herself helpless. On one the hand, she, as prime minister, was fighting politico-military forces which restricted her political power to Islamabad; on another, she was living a private life under the dense shadow of her husband. She was trapped from all sides living a frustrated life hidden from the public. Quoting an example; once an honest Member of CBR (he was made Chairman CBR after his retirement) refused AAZ to 'favour' him in an unlawful case. AAZcomplained to BB. The PM called the member to her office and in front of AAZ told him to do the needful. He politely declined giving his reasons. Frustrated as she was, she lifted the file and threw it at him. The bureaucrat slowly picked up the file and threw it back in her direction. At 12 midnight he was made an OSD at the behest of AAZ.

The next evening, he narrated the story putting major blame on AAZ, proving the point that she lived under his shadow. When foul money started rolling in political roulette during the vote of no confidence movement, she saw the parliamentarians were bundled to Changa Manga and Swat. It was then, she was made to realise how important it was to have a lot of money to keep upper hand in political dealings. From there on the 10% ratio started climbing up in scale and she looked the other way. In her mind he was strengthening PPP's kitty; while in reality (as reported in press) he was striving to get a place in the list of top hundred billionaires of the world. As a result, she was removed from premiership on corruption charges and was put behind bars. This was the political aspect of his personality. There was a familial too. When she was behind the bars for most of his corrupt practices; he, instead of sharing her pains, made her pregnant in the cell. Incredible as it sounds, she behaved like an obedient wife accepting his desires and let him take part in an act which could be the last thing on her mind.

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Time moved on. While the cases against her were still heard in the courts, the establishment collided with Mr. Nawaz Sharif and he was also de-seated on the same grounds that she was removed earlier. It was her turn now. She was made the prime minister for the second time by the powerful forces in the name of fair democratic elections. This time, she had learnt her lesson in Pak power politics. She let her husband loose and in short period, he surpassed the 30% mark. When she was busy achieving national and international political goals; he was busy accomplishing his goal of building his financial imperium. In the process, he hit another goal and made his wife prime minister pregnant showing his power over her in the most primitive tribal fashion. Though this time she was aware of his corruption but his other activities disappointed her. She confided in her old friend who lives in Finchley, London and poured her heart out when she found out that he bought a luxurious Lockwood property in Surrey for his supposedly girl friend. It was then her friend realised that AAZ's hold over her had a strong element of fear

It was after her removal from power the second time she decided to de-load the hold he had over her. As a first step, she used him as bargaining chip while jailed in Pakistan. After successful negotiations with Musharaf government, she arranged for him go abroad but not before she gave him a chance to prove his political weight in Lahore. He failed in that. Later, he ended up in New York where he stayed for medico-legal reasons until just before her return to Pakistan. It was during those days when a lady friend journalist of BB; Marianna Babar, came up with a story that their marriage had hit rock bottom and it was at the brink of breaking. According to reports even their assets were divided. A few weeks later the same story was taken up by an Indian Magazine; Outlook. By then, she had already made a deal with Mr. Nawaz Sharif by signing CoD and was negotiating with Gen Musharaf brokered by the UK and the US governments. She was advised not take a step that would have negative impact back at home. Also, she wanted to keep a fatherly figure over her children. Being a loving mother she did not want to hurt them. Thus the news of split was rebutted. According to her close friends, she had decidedto keep him away from the politics and let him look after family business and take care of their children. The social, familial, cultural and political hold he had on her had come to an end at last. The brutal politics had converted her into a woman of steel.

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The conspiracy theorists who believe in US's hands behind her forthcoming murder, state that the Americans played double game with the couple. They negotiated with BB and kept Zardari as her husband before her return to Pakistan so he could play a special role designed for him. They say the American psychologist and psychiatrist Dr.Philip Salteil and Dr.Stephen Riech played with his mind while protecting him from Swiss and London courts for mental health reasons. To support their argument, the conspiracy theorists quote psychotherapists like Paul McKenna known to change personalities using hypnotic techniques. They believe AAZ had been brainwashed during his treatment for dementia. Could that be the reason AAZ telling a spiritualist from Pakistan in October 2006 in New York that he had an important role to play in global politics to avert the clash of civilisation?

The question is, was he really advancing in spirituality or showing symptoms of brainwashing and mind-control? There is a grey area between spirituality and mental health-related symptomatology in which the ongoing patterns of feeling, thinking and behaviour are said to be caused by underlying belief systems which can enhance what may be perceived as divine command or egoism. Can he be placed in the grey area? A spiritualist is known for his uprightness, honesty, flawless character and mood stability. A brainwashed patient with mental health problems on other hand, suffers from temper unsteadiness,emotional outbursts, concentration problems, turning back on his promises and accumulation of irrelevant words in his utterances among other things. It looks like President Zardari's present record is not different from the one he had in the past. He collected all the people with bad reputation around him. For them the business is as usual-make money through any mean. A former foreign secretary said something like this about his friends, ‘We were having dinner at this posh restaurant (in NY) and in walked Asif with a group of men who would never be seen in polite company.’

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Finally, it was Mr. Asif Zardari himself who refused to tag 'Bhutto' to the name of Belawal. It is President Asif Zardari who has tagged Bhutto' to Belawal's name after having psychotherapy (hypnotherapy) in New York. Did the therapy turn him into a spiritualist or someone else? And what about his recent speech of telling PPP workers not to shout 'Ek Zardari Sub Pe Bhari'. Instead he told them to yell 'Jee Ye Bhutto'. To make his position known, he tilted his neck in his usual style and gave a long howl of 'Jee Ye Bhutto'. Spirituality or no spirituality, can he really score political points by tagging 'Bhutto' with 'Zardari' or achieve political grounds by yelling 'Jee Ye Bhutto' after what he did to the poor people of Pakistan in his two and a half years of presidency? He is right about one thing, the motto 'Ek Zardari Sub Pe Bhari' has no wind left in it.

The end