The Zardari conundrum

by Raza Rumi ( published in the NEWS)

By all statistical estimates and anecdotal evidence, Pakistan’s middleclass has grown during the last decade. The visible manifestation of this historically significant trend was the spontaneous outrage at the dismissal of the chief justice in 2007 and the robust movement that followed. However, the other side of this sociological transformation has been the capture of the “opinion” in Pakistan by the overdriven urban middleclass segment now backed and voiced through a powerful and not always responsible electronic media.

Amid the torrential attacks and doomsday predictions on Asif Zardari’s candidature for presidency, a few reasoned voices have attempted to remind the country that fortification of a fractured democratic process requires civilian ascendancy. No, say our wise ones. They are enraged at the corruption tales, and media and real trials. There is a deafening silence over the fact that without a single conviction an accused has spent 11-and-a-half years in jails and suffered solitary imprisonment, torture and pressure that could have easily broken a common back. Admittedly, our president-to-be is hardly an angel. But this is not about morality or middleclass affront or even a thousand stories of international media that have suddenly become so credible. Not long ago, the vanguard of middleclass morality were telling us how biased the international media is about Musharraf and how twisted its reporting was on the US-led war on terror. All of a sudden Zardari tales have become legit, true and worrying. […]