By Dr Shahid Qureshi –:
“I have asked Sherry (Sherry Rehman now Information Minister) to send me light summer embroidery clothes if I am arrested and imprisoned in Pakistan”, Benazir Bhutto said to me at a central London restaurant. Sherbano Rehman very much westernized parachuted into the heart of the PPP and never stopped.
Next day I called very talented Urdu and German speaking Fauzia Wahab (MNA) in Karachi and asked her, ‘why she did not attend the important PPP meeting in London? She said, ‘some people can’t afford to travel and board in London’. However, her recent comments asking Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to resign were below the belt.
Rehman Malik was behind the scene but very close at that time. According to sources, ‘Benazir Bhutto called Javeed Pasha everything apart from slapping him took custody of two cars of Mr Zardari, gave white one to Rehman Malik and kept the other one. Javeed Pasha’s media outlet and Rehman Malik’s security agency were in the same building in London where Benazir Bhutto used to come frequently. Javed Pasha now reportedly working for ‘Mital Group’ attended reception at Pakistan High Commission hosted by Wajid Shamuslhassan High Commissioner of Pakistan few days ago. It seems like PPP is hijacked by the criminal mafia and new motto seems: government of the Mafia, by the Mafia and for the Mafia criminals?
Benazir Bhutto was a typical Muslim woman inside apart from her liberal views and past. She was very much aware with all kinds of corruptions of Asif Zardari and anxieties within the party. When a common friend and senior journalist based in Washington asked her consider divorcing him she said, “I cannot because (a) I have small children don’t want them to lose their father (b) I am a politician and people might take advantage”. She brought up her kids very well and according to Zardari ‘trained me’.
There seems to be a clear conflict of interest when Zardari’s own government withdrawing cases against him not to mention the benefits from NRO amnesty? Are these acquittals serve true sense of justice? In actual fact he lost Swiss Case of money laundering either way. He should tell the people of Pakistan how he managed to build more than $2 billion Empire and from where he got $60 million to deposit in Swiss account? He and late Ms Bhutto have been denying for years to the world that they have nothing to do with Rockwood Estate ‘Surrey Palace’ but then one day his lawyer claimed ownership. Is he a credible man for presidency?
When it comes to his academic qualifications first New York Times and then Dawn a leading English daily reported on 21st March 2008, “British officials responsible for maintaining record of all educational institutions in the country have failed to find any trace of the institution (London School of Economics and Business) in London from where Asif Ali Zardari is claimed to have received his graduation or equivalent qualification in 1976. In a written response PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: “Mr Zardari studied business and economics in a school in London now called (the) London School of Economics and Business.” In a written response to questions about London School of Economics and Business, an Edubase official said: “In order to ascertain whether or not an institution exists, I conduct a search on three registers, Edubase, The Register of Education and Training Providers and the UK Register of Learning Providers. I have been unable to find evidence of this institution.”
So where and what is he graduated in? It is not an issue if he has graduated or not but why is he unable to prove the existence of institution he claimed to have been attending? Moreover, Mr Zardari should not be discriminated due to his mental health problems. He is lucky to have received support for his mental health and physical problems. According to reports unfortunately he is suffering from diabetes and dementia (shrinking of brain) both are irreversible. Psychiatric illnesses can be improved with drugs and counseling.
“His doctors have declared him medically fit to run for political office and free of any symptoms,” said Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s high commissioner to London FT. Perhaps the high commissioner is unaware that entry and exit points in the mental health treatment are some times years apart depending on the illness. As Financial Times published on 26th August 2008, Mr. Zardari submitted his medical and psychiatric reports/certificates to British High Court claiming incapacity to stand trial and inability to attend. In March 2007, Stephen Reich, a New York state-based psychologist, diagnosed Mr Zardari with dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. He (Mr. Zardari) had difficulty focusing, concentrating and paying attention is persistently sad, chronically anxious and apprehensive. He (Mr Zadrdari) stated that he has had suicidal thoughts, but has not made any suicide gestures. Mr Reich re-examined Mr. Zardari in June 2007 and September 2007, each time reporting that he had made progress but still had problems that might make it impossible for him to testify in court”.
Another diagnosis in March 2007 by Philip Saltiel, a New York City based psychiatrist said, ‘emotional and neurological problems suffered by Mr. Zardari because of medical treatment and imprisonment had resulted in “emotional instability” and “deficits in memory and concentration”. His assessment suggest, “I do not foresee any improvement in these issues for at least a year.” (FT)
“Mr. Zardari should not be penalised for his past illnesses, however if he commits a blunder whilst leading the pioneer atomic Islamic nation of 160 million souls as a head of the state, whilst having constitutional immunity from prosecution, he will also have a lawful defence on the basis of his past psychiatric profile and all liability will rest on security apparatus, election commission and hopeful contenders in his election who failed to challenge his smooth sailing in time, and the loss will be of the state, but surely military rule will survive by default”, said Amjad Malik a lawyer from United Kingdom.
Quite bizarrely “US officials say they can work with Mr. Zardari despite the controversies of his past”, reported Financial Times. Well these are not controversies or mudslinging on any ones character? We are taking his words and documents submitted by him on board. Mr. Zardari should consider if he is walking into a trap with false sense of security and paving the way for undemocratic forces?
Can a man be credible President, who forgot about his £ millions palace in London for years, don’t remember which college he graduated from, don’t remember $3.6 million in his Swiss account which Swiss government confiscated and don’t know how he earned $60 millions deposited in his Swiss accounts?
(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior award wining investigative journalist and writer on security, foreign policy, and terrorism based in London)