Today ends the presidential tenure of President Zardari. He leaves the presidency with a mixed bag of achievements, and with the strongest democratic credentials of any head of state yet. But it is the party in shambles he is returning to that makes the event more intriguing for the future polity.
In my last post, I talked about the uphill task that is ahead of PPP if the party wants to revive her fortunes. Yet a very important question for that revival is whether the party should do it with President Zardari or without him? Put simply, is his innings over or not?
So here are my two cents. For one, if PPP has to revive her fortunes, presently, no one can do it except President Zardari. He is the only central figure who has the capital (personal legacy and family link to Bhuttos) and the outreach and connection with party's base. More importantly, he seems most politically apt of the lot that PPP possesses. If this is not enough, he understand the policy agenda better than anyone I have known/ seen in present PPP. Just when Aitzazs and Rabbanis may be more acceptable ideologues, they lack any sustainable policy message. Just when Wattos and Gillanis may be good at political dealings, they lack the broader party vision. And just when President's children may have more appeal with party's base, they lack the experience and political understanding of Pakistan's political minefield for now. So, any hopes of revival of PPP rest on Zardari and it is he who is most likely to revive the fortunes of PPP, if party plays her cards well and has luck on her side.
And apart from analytics, there is one more reason that makes me believe Asif Zardari's real innings has yet to begin. And that stems from my belief (yup, not analytical reasoning) that good intentions are never wasted. President Zardari practiced reconciliation and tolerance, and promoted democracy with a firm conviction and belief. He did it not because he had to but because he absolutely wanted to. He believed in moving economic bounty to have-nots and this, too, was driven by his conviction. And it is these for which he will be rewarded. And so, I believe his and his party's political role is not over.
Well played Mr. President. You have given us democracy and strong democratic traditions, and we look forward to your innings as the one who will deliver other bounties in that democratic system.