Why Zardari decided to lock horns with Musharraf

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Karachi, May 24 : Ever since the new democratic government led by the PPP was formed in Islamabad, Asif Ali Zardari had been absorbing pressures from every corner, but over the past week he changed his demeanor and took on President Pervez Musharraf calling him a "relic of the past".

This change occurred perhaps because till a week ago he was facing his last corruption case, and once it was dismissed by a court he emerged a clean person who could take on anybody. In a recent interaction with a senior journalist, he reportedly said that he was fed up with the pressures and he was pressurized more he might pack up and leave for UK where his family needed him more after the demise of his wife Benazir Bhutto.

"If they (PML-N and lawyers) pressurise me too much, I would rather pack up the National Assembly, call fresh elections and let them deal with the President and the Army. I will see how much power they have to get the judges restored or remove Musharraf," Shaheen Sehbai, the journalist, quoted him as saying in an article published in The News.

Coming under fire from many sides, he has practically thwarted any criticism of his hitherto pro-Musharraf policies in the Central Executive Committee of the PPP, scheduled to meet on Saturday, as a starter. Many PPP stalwarts are quiet but annoyed leaders were sharpening their knives to go for him.

Secondly, he has attempted to control the damage caused by the fast deteriorating relations with Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, to keep the coalition together and gear it up for the constitutional amendments that he intends to move, clipping Musharraf's powers and restoring the judges.

But, the most important reason, for his changed behaviour was a lot of fear and apprehension that before his wings were clipped President Musharraf may launch a final commando type attack on the political system and try to pre-empt his ultimate transformation into a powerless and spineless Fazal Elahi Chaudhry.

"He was constantly absorbing the pressures even at the risk of becoming unpopular for a while because of obvious assurances and guarantees that Benazir Bhutto in the first place, and then he himself, may have given to the Presidency, the Army and the Americans," Shaheen wrote in the article.

He added: "The lingering threat of corruption and money laundering cases, both in and outside Pakistan, was another huge factor why Zardari was soft and accommodative for Musharraf. All that may appear to have changed when the last and final corruption case against him was dropped or thrown out by the court hearing it. Now he is clean like any clean person could be and thus could go after anyone who challenges his authority."

But, the real turning point came when Musharraf started to panic and sought tacit assurances from the powers that matter on whether they would stand by him or the political system. The answers that he got, again tacitly, was a big no, which meant that if the political system, through a proper and dignified way eliminated him, he would have to say goodbye.

ANI

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