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August 14, 2010 / Rehman Azhar

Who Threw the Shoe at Zardari?

Pakistanis in Birmingham protesting against President Asif Ali Zardari

President Zardari made the most disastrous foreign trip by any Pakistani head of state. For him it just came at a wrong time and wrong place- that’s Britain. For his opposition it was the right time and the right place. For most analysts in politics-this trip from public relations to foreign policy-was not worth making.  Zardari supporters considered his address in Brimingham to be the climax of this tour and it actually turned out to be- but for the wrong reasons.  There was no historic entry of Bilawal Bhutto into the arena of real politik- heir to the throne of Bhutto legacy. Neither there was any momentous speech by Zardari that aroused Pakistanis to help their brethren back home devastated by flood. Nor it was the crowd cheering for him or the bunch of people chanting slogans against him outside the hall. It was because of a shoe-actually a pair as claimed- thrown at President of Pakistan that made the headlines. Where did that come from? It was the most awkward and unexpected anti-climax to Mr. Zardari’s trip.

Should we believe Zardari’s spokeperson?

Zardari supporters still dispute the fact that the shoe was thrown at the President. Ministers and spokesperson for the President have negated the incidents altogether. They said nothing of the sort has happened and it is sheer propaganda by a section of our media. But what about the foreign media present there that also reported the incident?  These spokespersons and ministers have not come clean most of the times. Judges restoration, NRO cases against President, tussle with Punjab Government and more recently extension of Army chief are a few issues to quote when they have not been telling all. Why believe them now?

Should we have faith in Geo Television?

Daggers Drawn- Asif Ali Zardari and Geo

Ah its media versus government again. But hold on! Is it media versus government or one channel versus government? Geo Television or Jung Group has lived up to its expectations once again. The whole saga has been more about Jung group and Asif Zardari rather than the shoe, rally or the president’s tour in the first place. According to the group, they have taken a stance for freedom of media and press. They said they would withstand this tyranny of government. Employees and anchors are wearing black armbands and they have made all press bodies come out in support for them. Does it give you a feeling of déjà vu or flashback? I am certainly getting such vibes. The same thing happened to Jung paper when Nawaz Sharif was in power. More recently the channel was closed down when Musharraf held the reigns. And who can forget that it was the same channel that claimed that an airplane has landed at Islamabad airport to take President Musharraf to some distant land (which was surely not the case). And now they have a standoff with Zardari. Yet again! Why does this always happen to Geo? That’s another question.

Shoe throwing episode was not something new to be excited about. Leaders like India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo has faced it already. And who can forget George Bush from whom it all started. May be our president is another name in the infamous list. It is separate question whether they deserve it or not and perhaps a less important one. Pakistan now faces the daunting task of rebuilding the infrastructure after the devastation caused by the floods. More than 15 million have been affected. Cities have lost schools, hospitals, bridges and roads. United Nations has requested $460 m from international donors. At this stage should we be concerned that who threw a shoe in that rally? Should we be troubled that some cable operators are not airing a channel? Should we care about the usual critical statements by the opposition and ready-made responses by the ministers?

Is this shoe throwing episode and its coverage relevant at this time? That’s the biggest question of all.

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One Comment

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  1. majid butt / Aug 14 2010 8:20 am

    Asif Ali Zardari, boarded a private Gulfstream Jet along with his family and his hundreds-large entourage to visit the European countries included on the president’s grand tour.Zardari takes a lot of overseas trips — so many that one local TV pundit estimated somewhat anecdotally last year that Richard Holbrooke, U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the “AfPak” region, had spent more time in Pakistan than Zardari had recently. But the timing of this particular visit has angered not only his subjects but also his hosts. Two prominent Asian Britons refused to meet the visiting head of state. Khalid Mahmood, a member of parliament, vigorously condemned Zardari’s decision to visit London. “A lot of people are dying,” he told the press. “He should be [in Pakistan] to try to support the people, not swanning around in the UK and France.” Lord Ahmed, a labor MP, continued that Zardari had a responsibility to be “looking after people, not [be] over here.” my nation’s question is what was more important,,, diplomacy( which certainly wasn’t needed out there)…it was a decision to be made on priority for people …who needed leadership, some direction….sigh
    Rehman….shoe throwing episode is never relevant,,,,i must say our media is sometimes unnecessarily vibrant….for whole week , we ve bn after plane crash,,,while we knew flood is imminent….even u know that,,,,we just start off with a breaking news and carry it on our brand advertisement…no offense,,,u ll have to concede ….so far as concerned with donation,,,,people are not ready to trust this govt. neither foreign nor domestic….will you deposit your money in account no given by MR. president which belongs to his son and daughter…
    people had cut their needs to support earthquake victims in 2005, now they are striving to fulfill their own needs, they want to help but they dont have to share it….consumer price index is more than 24% up..so is WPI and SPI…people are starving for 2 times meal,,,,,sigh,,,,

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