By Volkhonsky Boris
After Pakistan`s President Asif Ali Zardari went to Dubai on December 6 for medical treatment, speculations continue in the media about the likelihood of him being toppled in a so-called ‘silent coup’. They even say the coup should be expected on December 15th or 16th, exactly when the country`s Supreme Court is due to announce a verdict on the ‘memogate’ case.
The scandal broke out when it became known that the Pakistani civilian leaders sought the US help in averting a possible coup in the country.
Currently, pressure on President Zardari to resign is growing. This is what the leader of the country’s biggest Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) opposition party, Nawaz Sharif, wants. He is supported by Munawar Hasan, the leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. The leaders of the new Tehrik-e-Insaf party, Imran Khan andShah Mahmood Qureshi also labeled Zardari as incapable of ruling a nuclear state.
Meanwhile, differences remain inside the ruling Pakistani People’s Party (PPP). The party’s chairman, a son of President Zardari and ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto, BilawalBhutto Zardari, is involved in active talks with the party’s leadership, members of the Cabinet and colleagues in the coalition, which experts view as a signal of a quick transfer of power. Influential journalist Najam Sethi predicted the transfer to take place on December 15-16. He believes that Zardari had nothing to do but leave for Dubai as nobody can predict now the Supreme Court’s verdict on the ‘memogate’ case. Only after the verdict is unveiled, Zardari will decide whether to return or not. Meanwhile, sources in his circle say that President will come back as soon as he completes his medical treatment.
It appears that Mr. Zardari`s time at the presidential post is running out. The question remains, however, to whom the power will be transferred. None of three opposition parties is fully legitimate and capable of taking responsibility for the country.Nawaz Sharif`s party is losing its supporters even in the native Punjab province. Islamists and the party led by Imran Khan andMahmood Qureshi do not have enough seats in parliament to be able to form executive bodies with legal capacity. BilawalBhutto lacks much experience in politics. Pakistanis won`t be pleased if Zardari transfers power to his son, because this will mark no change in policies the society is already fed up with.
If Zardari goes – no matter how high or low his approval rating is – Pakistan will be drawn into chaos. Taking into account Pakistan`s ‘nuclear state’ status, this is a very unfavorable scenario for the region but the rest of the world, a Russian expert says.
Experts are now focusing on the Pakistani army as the only force able to keep away from any political, ethnic and religious differences. But the army and theDirectorate ofInter Services Intelligence have been keeping a low profile.
Although all analysts, both in Pakistan and abroad, see Imran Khan, who is supported by the army, as the most likely presidential candidate, no signs have appeared so far for him to come to power legally.
It is quite clear, however, that whether Zardari steps down or remains in office a bit longer, is just a question of time.