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Caught between a rock and a hard place, Asif Ali Zardari’s days in politics may be numbered

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Asif Ali Zardari’s days in politics may be numbered

Finally, the noose has tightened around Mr Asif Ali Zardari and other stalwarts of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). A joint investigation team (JIT) report presented before the Supreme Court (SC) accused Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and others in 16 different cases pertaining to money laundering, misuse of authority and allotting government land to a private housing society at low prices.The 128-page long JIT report is comprehensive and can be termed as solid evidence of the wrongdoings committed by Zardari and his accomplices. How Zardari will defend himself in the court remains to be seen, but he has hinted towards fighting this case on political grounds. The fierce speeches from Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are a sign that the PPP has finally read the writing on the wall. Perhaps Zardari and his party wasted too much time in reading the entire political game, for crying over spilt milk now will not make a difference.When Zardari toppled the provincial government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in Balochistan and lent his support to get Sadiq Sanjrani elected as the Senate chairman, he thought he would be spared; he thought he could have his cake and eat it too. But Zardari miscalculated the situation, and is now trapped.

However, he has no one but himself to blame for the situation he is in. Had he avoided becoming a pawn in this game of power politics and not lent support for the downfall of Nawaz Sharif, the picture could have been entirely different. As far as the allegations against him and his close aides are concerned, there is no doubt they need to be investigated, and Zardari should face the trial in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court.

ll the same, the agency the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is handling this case – by politically targeting the PPP and the Sindh government – shows that PTI is more interested in political point scoring and keeping the masses busy on the rhetoric by accountability. PTI has no business anticipating NAB’s decisions about Zardari and his accomplices, and by putting Shah’s name on the exit control list (ECL), its government has given an opportunity to the PPP to play the Sindh card.

It has also worsened the already fragile relations between the province of Sindh and the federal government. There are rumours of a possible governor rule or an in-house change in Sindh. If the rumours are based on strong information from reliable sources, then the PTI government is surely digging its own grave. PTI does not enjoy a majority in the centre or in the province of Punjab; hence, by making any such move, PTI will open the door for PML-N and PPP to create forward blocks in PTI’s own ranks in order to topple its government in Punjab and in the centre.

Perhaps the PML-N and PPP will not be interested in bringing change in the centre and will let the PTI fail in delivering upon its promises, but the margin of PTI’s majority in the Punjab Assembly is very thin, and any move to topple the PPP government in Sindh can virtually lead to a no-confidence move in the Punjab Assembly. One hopes that sanity will prevail in the ranks of the PTI and it will let the institutions of NAB and the SC decide the fate of Zardari and PPP, and not exploit the situation to its own advantage by toppling the PPP-led Sindh government through an unconstitutional move

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