LAHORE - The reports that former President Asif Ali Zardari is in Washington these days to seek the US support for continuity of the current political system in Pakistan has revived an almost dead issue, the memo controversy the country was in after the US raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad on May2, 2011.
The de facto PPP chief had a long meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden the other day and reportedly discussed with him the current volatile situation in Pakistan though his spokesperson Farhatullah Babar has categorically denied his boss flew to the US with any political agenda.
The host, Ray Mahmud, an ex-ambassador at large of Pakistan, has also downplayed Zardari’s meeting with Joe Biden, terming it a ‘social event with no political undertones’ for the occasion was an Iftar dinner.
Asif Zardari is also scheduled to meet some other senior US officials in the coming days purportedly to solicit their support for continuity of the political system in Pakistan, which he thinks, is in danger due to the mounting storm in the wake of the long march call by PTI Chief Imran Khan and Dr Qadri’s announcement to bring about a revolution by wrapping up the present system.
His meeting with Joe Biden and ensuing interactions with other US officials have given rise to speculations about the purpose of his visit at a time when the current political system seems to be under strain.
Talking to The Nation, Senator Farhatulllah Babar said the former president’s US visit had nothing to do with the current political situation in Pakistan as it had been scheduled much earlier. He also insisted that it was a private visit.
Way back in 2011, the former president was accused of approaching a top US general through his emissary in Washington to forestall a possible military takeover in Pakistan.
As the details of the memo, allegedly drafted by Hussain Haqqani, the then Pakistan ambassador to the US, came out, it transpired that Zardari at that time had feared that military might dismantle the democratic order to make up for its tarnished image as a result of the US raid which it could not avert.
Now, after three years, the PPP leader foresees a similar scenario given the turbulent situation in his country. He seems to be active once again to save the system in which his party has vital stakes.
Though all the characters involved in the memo scandal, including him, are no more on their previous positions, Zardari has been able to project his image of savior of the political order. He still seems to be relevant under the current situation when democracy seems to be in trouble again.
In Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani, Asif Ali Zardari, General Kayani, General Shuja Pasha and Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – who were at the helms of affairs when the memo controversy erupted – are no more part of the present setup. Mike Mullen also retired in September, 2011, while Mansoor Ejaz, the controversial character of the memo case, is also out of the scene now. But Zardari seems to be on the forefront.