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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Ardeshir_Cowasjee
Full Name: Ardeshir Cowasjee
User since: 1/Sep/2008
No Of voices: 4
Targeted Killing by Ardeshir Cowasjee
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What a bloody mess! By Ardeshir Cowasjee
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Don't fool the people By Ardeshir Cowasjee
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Mass murder we cannot forget By Ardeshir Cowasjee
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What a bloody mess!
By Ardeshir Cowasjee

HOW ironic. Having reiterated time and time again over the past years that the then president of Pakistan, Gen Pervez Musharraf, was (and remains) the best of the worst lot, it was highly amusing to read in a column headed "Musharraf's Pakistan had true potential" printed in the Boston Globe of Aug 26: "The sad thing is that Musharraf was the best of the current lot."

And how factual was an editorial in The Independent (London) of the same day which opened up: "Even by the notoriously low standards of South Asian politics, Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the PPP, is a compromised figure, dogged by corruption charges. So it is hard to be enthused by the PPP's decision to nominate its leader as the country's next president."

This was one day after the Financial Times had broken the news of the medical reports compiled by two New York-based psychiatrists, which had been filed in a London court to support an application to delay corruption cases brought against him by the Pakistan government. The diagnoses were delivered in March 2007 and successfully served their purpose. The FT report opens "Asif Ali Zardari, the leading contender for the presidency of nuclear-armed Pakistan, was suffering from severe psychiatric problems as recently as last year, according to court documents filed by his doctors."

The FT report has also been picked up and commented upon internationally. Pakistan is in the news again to its detriment. Presidential candidate Zardari has been diagnosed as suffering from "emotional instability", memory loss and concentration problems, and major depressive disorder. These court papers have caused alarm amongst the citizens of his country who question his ability, and his fitness, to occupy the presidential chair.

In these past few days, I have been inundated with e-mails calling upon me to come to the aid of the country and save it from Zardari. Little do they know what a columnist can achieve "” all he can do is save a few blind donkeys and some old trees. Even were I to approach the courts, under the present circumstances, my petition would be thrown out quicker than a wink of an eye. And the same goes for the Election Commission. Citizens of Pakistan are, these days, wary of 'consequences'.

Now, constitutionally where does Zardari stand in view of the court-backed doubts about his mental state? The president, under Article 41(2) is required to be "qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly". According to Article 63(a) a person is disqualified to be a member of the National Assembly if "he is of unsound mind and has been so declared by a competent court".

The court in London accepted the psychiatrists' certificates and acted upon them. Zardari, if he wishes to deny the diagnoses, must plead that the London court is incompetent and that the psychiatrists were falsifying. We must go with an editorial of Aug 28 which counselled that "It would be unwise to dismiss the recent revelations about the fragile state of Mr Asif Zardari's mental health as irrelevant," and asked "Does the country really need another potentially deluded individual to lead it through these troubled times?"

Dementia, as any psychiatrist will confirm, is a progressive disorder which usually does not remit with any known treatment. A combination of major depressive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder can hamper memory and judgment. This goes a long way towards explaining the recent Zardari string of dishonoured signed agreements and broken promises.

As if the Zardari mental health state was not sufficient unto the day, news broke in Europe and the US two days later about the release by Switzerland of assets amounting to some $60m which were frozen in 1997 by a Geneva court investigating allegations of kickbacks received by Zardari and Benazir Bhutto between 1994 and 1997 (her second term as prime minister). In June, our attorney general penned a letter to the Swiss prosecutor general informing him that neither husband nor wife had done anything illegal and that the charges were politically motivated (thank you, USA and Musharraf, for the NRO). The money laundering case was dropped and Zardari is now richer than ever having pocketed a dubious $60m, though the PPP leader vehemently denies receiving this amount.

The investigating judge in Geneva, Daniel Devaud, was flabbergasted. "It would be very difficult to say that there is nothing in the files that shows there was possible corruption going on after what I have seen in there. After I heard what the general prosecutor said, I have a feeling we are talking about two different cases." The Swiss release should not in any way be interpreted as a sign of innocence.

Now, let us revert to our mutilated almost incomprehensible constitution which as far as Article 62 goes is clear. To qualify as a member of the National Assembly, and thus to be able to contest the presidential election, a man must be "of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic injunctions", and he must be "sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen". No further comment is necessary.

We must wonder how our armed forces feel about all this. After all, the president is not only their supreme commander but he has his finger on the nuclear button. Zardari and his sycophantic supine political party must ask themselves if he truly qualifies to be a head of state. He has five days in which to prove himself a patriot and a democrat. Democracy, no matter what the party slogan may proclaim, is not a form of revenge and for him to carry through his ambition (which he has nursed ever since he made up his mind to rid himself of Musharraf) would be an act of vengeance upon his country and its people.

Of the three presidential candidates, Mushahid Hussain is by far the cleanest (the 'best of the worst'). I have suggested to him that, as a directly affected party, he go to the courts immediately and at least attempt to obtain a stay order. The frightened people of the world and the people of Pakistan will undoubtedly support his move. n

arfc@cyber.net.pk
 Reply:   Fears About a Would-Be Leader's Mental Health
Replied by(Noman) Replied on (1/Sep/2008)
If Pakistan's upcoming election goes as expected, Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto, will succeed Pervez Musharraf as the country's next president, giving Zarda

Fears About a Would-Be Leader's Mental Health

 
Aamir Qureshi / AFP-Getty Images
Mind Games: Zardari suffered mental-health issues owing to his imprisonment

If Pakistan's upcoming election goes as expected, Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto, will succeed Pervez Musharraf as the country's next president, giving Zardari at least partial sway over the Muslim country's nuclear arsenal. Concerns spiked last week with the disclosure of medical records indicating that as recently as last year, doctors hired by Zardari had diagnosed him with mental problems including dementia, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. While Zardari's spokespeople say he has been cured, multiple U.S. officials, among them Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, told NEWSWEEK that word of Zardari's mental-health history took them by surprise. "Typically," said Hoekstra, "[The U.S.] wouldn't want that kind of person" involved in a nuclear chain of command.

Lawyers for Zardari argued in London's high court that he was too ill to testify in corruption-related cases, and they submitted recent mental-health evaluations as evidence. In March 2007, the Financial Times reported, New York psychologist Stephen Reich concluded that Zardari was "chronically anxious and apprehensive" and had thoughts of suicide, though he had not acted on them. The newspaper wrote that a New York psychiatrist, Philip Saltiel, found that Zardari's long imprisonment in Pakistan while facing corruption probes had left him with "emotional instability" as well as memory and concentration problems. Dr. Reich declined to comment; Dr. Saltiel could not be reached.

Two American officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing a sensitive issue, said that Washington regarded Zardari's medical diagnoses as a legal ploy designed to stall corruption cases against him. Pakistani officials and Zardari supporters said all the allegations against him were trumped up by his enemies. (Last week, days after Newsweek.com reported that Zardari might use his new political clout to try to shut down a Swiss corruption probe, Geneva's prosecutor announced that he had ended his inquiry"”a development that Jacques Python, a Geneva lawyer who formerly represented Pakistan, called "extremely shocking.") Zardari's supporters added, however, that the prison stresses were real. In an e-mail to NEWSWEEK, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's U.S. ambassador, wrote that Zardari "obviously was affected by the torture of imprisonment without conviction "¦ A similar diagnosis is usually made for former POWs immediately after their release but that does not preclude their full recovery and subsequent running for high political office. Mr. Zardari has no current condition requiring psychiatric help or medication."

Hoekstra said he did not recall being briefed about Zardari's claims of mental incapacity; two other U.S. foreign-policy officials said they found the revelations surprising and disquieting. But a U.S. official familiar with intelligence, who also asked for anonymity, said any elision was unintentional. "No one here should think information was deliberately withheld or suppressed," the official said. "Nor should they simply accept at face value assertions made with the apparent goal of warding off legal proceedings." According to one of the officials, the U.S. government believes Pakistan's nukes are tightly controlled by elite elements of its military"”and that the nuclear authority of elected officials, including the president, would be "extremely limited."


 
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