Robert Vadra  is Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law and Priyanka’s husband. He is one of India’s most notorious businessmen accused of grave charges. He has been interviewed by a wire service – Asia News International – the very organisation whose reporter was threatened and manhandled by him not long ago.
Silly telly channels are asking the obvious questions to the obvious people and are getting obvious answers … all of which … to quote the greatest Indian journalist of the world – Arnab Goswami – were ‘soft questions.’
A company specialising in getting quick reactions meant only for the eyes of top politicians and shamuses reportedly managed to get reactions that one will never see in the public domain. Someone allegedly stole a reported copy.
For whatever it is worth, we, at Southern Features, are making the reactions public with an important disclaimer: The realistic sounding reactions are yet to be verified.
The most important Vadra quote:
I did not need Priyanka to enhance my life.
Robert to Priyanka in their bedroom:
The shysters in ANI cut off the vital part of the sentence, darling. I actually said, I did not need Priyanka to enhance my life because my life is, in itself, in all its entirety, PRIYANKA. Like last time, the ANI rogues doctored the tape after all that was given to them! Next time I meet someone from that agency, I will land a blow on that person’s snout and ask him “Are you and were you serious when you left that important sentence out, you Rumpelkelistin?
Dr Subramanian Swamy to his advisors
I listened to the original copy of that interview – courtesy – Langley. Bob actually said, I did not need Priyanka to enhance my life, but Priyanka needed me to enhance her …somewhat lonely life. Poor girl … she is said to drink too much … [inaudible] diluted with [inaudible] … to get over her loneliness.
Sonia to Rahul Gandhi:
Don’t get worked up sonny by what Robert said. Be thankful about what he did not say. Under normal circumstances, he would have said, I didn’t need Priyanka to enhance my life, but my mom-in-law needed me to turn the family’s somewhat coloured money into real estate and wants me to use that line of business to turn it into white.
Narendra Damodardas Modi to Amit Shah
The sod was perhaps trying to say I didn’t need Priyanka to enhance my life as she is too naïve to do the stuff I do for the family. Nevertheless, now I need the BJP to enhance my life – even further.
How can you be so sure?
Vadra is too clever by half. But, more importantly, you need to learn about the birds and the bees of politics from that man Asif Ali Zardari.  I will give some of his quotes.
What was I doing outside jail before my marriage to Benazir?
As a child, I was spoilt by my parents as an only son. They indulged my every whim, and I grew up in luxury.
I must be the first male spouse being held hostage by a regime. Pakistan has traditional elements who find it hard to reconcile with a man whose wife works and who other men salute perforce of her office.
I do not see any connection of the 3rd quote with Vadra.
I will alter it slightly.
I must be the first male spouse being held hostage by regimes – controlled by the family I married into and that of the opposition – currently in power. India and Pakistan have traditional elements who find it hard to reconcile with a man who has a politically connected wife. Other men salute her husband perforce even if he doesn’t hold any office.
Manmohan Singh to his daughter Daman
God only knows why ANI – which could take over a number of other smaller and/or suffering news agencies like UNI did something as stupid as this. Even I could say truthfully that I didn’t need the Congress and the Congress needed me. But then, even NDTV does not want to interview poor old me!
Rahul Gandhi to Sanjay Jha
I do not know whether Bob was telling the truth when he said, I did not need Priyanka to enhance my life. And it is good that he did not add, I need the Congress to save the rest of my life. And yes, who in his right mind would need a lass with an alleged drinking problem?
Prakash Karat to Sitaram Yechury
Comprador capitalist Vadra surely has a cheek – a rosy one at that – to say I did not need Priyanka to enhance my life. I am sure the ANI reporter asked him the question – Are you serious – soon afterwards – and ensured that it was snipped off before telecast.
Laloo Yadav to Mulayam Singh Yadav
You have a daughter-in-law in politics, brother Yadav from UP. Would Dimple beti say something as daft as that?
Mulayam mumbles something intelligible. Akhilesh walks in.
Uncle Laloo, my father was saying my son Akhilesh by himself is more than willing to utter such daft sentences, but, none will publish it.
Laloo to Akhilesh
Very importantly, would you really say such a thing?
Well I would say, I did not need Priyanka or my father Mulayam to enhance my life simply because it needed no enhancement. I did as I pleased with UP without being in power and do as I please when I am in power. Better still, I allow my men to do as they please too!
Laloo to Mulayam
And how would you react to that?
Mulayam mumbles inaudibly.
You need guts to say loudly I needed Akhilesh to enhance my life like I needed a hole in the head. Saying sotto voce makes you a coward.
Mayawati addresses the statues of Ambedkar and her mentor Kanshi Ram
I am the only one who can truthfully say, I did not need Priyanka to enhance my life and actually mean it.
Jayalalithaa to Sasikala
I needed none to enhance my life. Not MGR, not Indira, not Rajiv, not even the people. I only needed myself.
Sasikala to Jaya
But, I surely need you to enhance my life.
Karunanidhi to Stalin
Maybe Vadraji was not telling the truth that he did not need Priyankaji to enhance his life. After having pretended to oppose the emergency – I could do a volte face in 1980 by saying Welcome Nehru’s daughter and give us a stable government. I cannot say welcome Vadraji and give us a stable regime – if BJP falls on its own. People might mistake the meaning of the word stable and compare it to a place where horses are kept and traded upon.
When are you going to say that you need me to succeed you?
You know I will never say it. After Kamaraj passed away, I told a gathering that he had told me the nation is gone! You can swear on Anna’s tomb that I had named you the successor as I took my last breath, whenever that happens some 100 years from now.
Chandrababu Naidu to wife Bhuvaneshwari
I will never say such things openly. I needed my father-in-law NTR and his foolishness to buy out his party, make him look a fool and also said in public that I am only running NTR’s regime! If Vadra so wishes, I can give him a crash course on taking over the Congress from Sonia – right in front of her eyes.
Arvind Kejriwal to Manish Sisodia
Will someone go inform Robert that I need him to enhance my life?
Someone in Langley after reading the transcript says thus to a colleague:
How do we know whether all these people said all these?
We could leak it in the name of those separated Siamese twins – Julian Assange or Edward Snowden through a Russian transponder. The world may not believe us – but some will start debating as to who really leaked it!
This blog has been widely seen! The evidence:
|United Arab Emirates
|Macau SAR China
|Hong Kong SAR China
Robert Vadra’s father Rajendra had migrated from Sialkot – Pakistan at the time of partition.
Vadra senior was found dead at a guest house in Yusuf Sarai area of New Delhi in 2009.
Bob’s elder brother Richard committed suicide in 2003 and Michelle, Bob’s sister, died in a car accident in 2001.
The Zardari dossier
Zardari was born on 26 July 1955 in Karachi, Sindh, to Hakim Ali and Zarine Zardari.
Zardari senior owned some 175,000 acres of land in various parts of Pakistan with special emphasis on the Baloch area. He was the scion of a cross-bred land-owning, Sindhi and Pashto speaking tribe domiciled away from the Afghan border though part of his ancestry can be traced to that lawless region.
As a young man he was a polo player and a boxer. He has been unofficially credited with 7 knock outs.
The Zardari family also owns a huge multiplex in Karachi known as Bambino which is not very far from where the Indian terrorist fugitive Dawood Ibrahim is said to reside currently.
The academic qualifications of Asif Ali Zardari are shrouded in mystery.
It is believed that he went to a grammar school in Karachi and is officially said that he passed out from Cadet College, Petaro in 1972, but there are several reports that allege he failed in that institution’s final exams as well as those conducted at St Patrick’s HS also in Karachi.
According to an official bio-data fact sheet put out by his office, Zardari claims to have attended a school called Pedinton somewhere around London.
This writer had searched for all schools in UK and is yet to find any institution by that name.
It is believed that Pakistan’s Supreme Court struck down a rule that necessitated all MPs to have a college degree in April 2008 to suit Zardari.
Zardari’s first foray into politics was begun in a disgraceful loss when he contested for a district council seat in Nawabshah a small town in Sindh province.
That loss made him go into the real estate business.
Asif managed to get a marriage arranged to tie the knot with Benazir Bhutto 18 December 1987.
The marriage party in Sindh was attended by over 100,000 guests.
There are many who believe the pro-US Asif had a hand in the 1988 assassination of anti-India general Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in an unexplained plane crash.
Significantly, a few months later, Benazir became the head of state of Pakistan despite winning only 94 of the 207 national assembly seats contested by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party.
Zardari blotted his copybook the first time when his business associates were caught with their hands in the Pakistani regime’s cash till.
The first downfall of Benazir was generally credited to the outrageous ‘commissioned’ deals of Zardari.
The Pak army ordered that the husband-wife duo could not leave the nation after the Benazir ministry was dismissed by the army in 1990.
The family’s male bête-noire Gulam Mustapha Jatoi who had become caretaker PM initiated investigations of corruption by the Bhutto administration.
The resultant cases led to Zardari being called Mr 10%.
[Now he is known as Mr 50%.]
Zardari was arrested 10 October 1990 on charges of kidnapping and extortion of foreign nationals.
Despite being in prison, Zardari emerged triumphant in the National Assembly polls of 1990.
Zardari obtained bail by depositing the Pakistani equivalent of US$ 20,000 by the military regime refused to release him.
Zardari walked out of prison in February 1993, acquitted of all charges of corruption and terrorism.
A year later he was also acquitted of bank fraud charges.
That was a watershed in his career for a few months later he became a minister in the caretaker cabinet and became a full cabinet minister when Benazir won at the hustings in July 1993.
What followed was unprecedented.
He became the following when Benazir became PM a second time.
Chief of the intelligence bureau
Head of the Federal Investigation Agency
PM’s special envoy and acting Cabinet Minister on Special duty in which capacity he met Saddam Hussein in 1994 to apparently deliver cardiac medicine to ensure released of 3 Pak detainees for spying along the Kuwait-Iraq border.
[All of us know what happened to nice-guy Saddam later.]
In March 1995, he was appointed chairman of the Environment Protection Council.
Zardari had a running feud with his mother-in-law Begum Nusrat Bhutto, whom he nicknamed Nafrat [hatred].
Nusrat accused Zardari of undermining the career of her son Murtuza, who along with his 7 friends was soon killed in a 1996 shootout between the police and rioters in Sindh.
During her son’s funeral Nusrat and the slain man’s widow Ghinwa openly accused Zardari of killing Murtuza.
Another Bhutto foe Farooq Leghari who sacked Benazir in 1996 openly accused Zardari of having masterminded the whole thing to erase any successor to the throne from the side of his wife.
Zardari was arrested while trying to escape to Dubai the same year.
In its January 1998 report, The New York Times detailed Zardari’s vast corruption and misuse of public funds. The report discussed $200 million in kickbacks to Zardari and a Pakistani partner for a $4 billion contract with French military contractor Dassault Aviation – the very company that inked a major deal with India recently, but, which is put on hold.
Zardari’s had visited India earlier – to reportedly intercede on behalf of Dassault to Sonia and Singh owing to the grim prospect of losing a very highly lucrative air-force equipment and aircraft deal.
The NYT report contained details of two payments of $5 million each by a gold bullion dealer in return for a monopoly on gold imports. It had information from Pakistani investigators that the Bhutto family had allegedly accrued more than $1.5 billion in illicit profits through kickbacks in virtually every sphere of government activity.
The report said that during Zardari’s mid-1990s spending spree hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on jewellery.
Zardari’s friends, NYT added include Western fixers comprising real estate firms’ owners, lawyers and a network of accountants.
The accused included important functionaries of Citibank.
A 1999 US Senate report slammed Zardari’s financial history.
Around this point in time, Pak authorities accused Zardari of operating secret accounts in Switzerland. Worse, authorities in Switzerland began prosecuting him too on the same count!
The nice touch was his being accused by the Pakistani regime of the conspiracy to kill his brother-in-law – Murtuza.
Significantly, with a lot of mud on its face, Citibank closed Zardari’s account.
Talking of irony, in April 1999, Bhutto and Zardari were convicted for receiving indemnities from a Swiss goods inspection company that was hired to end corruption in the collection of customs duties!
The couple paid a fine of $8.6 million and was sentenced to undergo five years imprisonment.
Located abroad, Benazir could not be forced to come back to Pakistan from her self-imposed exile.
Zardari was already in jail awaiting more trial on separate charges.
The evidence used against them had been gathered by Swiss investigators and the Pakistani Bureau of Accountability.
In May 1999, Zardari needed to go to hospital after an alleged attempted suicide which he claimed it was actually an attempt to murder him by the police.
In August 2003, a Swiss judge convicted Bhutto and Zardari of money laundering and sentenced them to six months imprisonment and a fine of $50,000.
In addition, they were required to return $11 million to the Pakistani government.
The conviction involved charges relating to kickbacks from two Swiss firms in exchange for customs fraud.
In France, Poland, and Switzerland, the couple faced additional allegations.
In November 2004, Zardari was released on bail by court order but soon was put under house-arrest for reportedly failing to show up for a hearing on a murder case in Islamabad but released soon afterwards on a bail bond worth the equivalent of $5,000 bail.
The whole episode was regarded as a sign of growing reconciliation between Musharraf’s government and the PPP.
After his second release in late 2004, he left for exile in Dubai.
Zardari returned home in April 2005 but was deported to Dubai soon by Musharraf.
Pakistanis called the whole thing as yet another drama and the surest sign a sinful collaboration between two big thieves.
In June 2005, it is said Zardari reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest in Dubai.
Nobody knows why the resultant angioplasty treatment was done in the USA.
In September 2005 a non-bailable warrant was issued against Zardari due to his failure to turn up in court in connection with a corruption case being heard in Rawalpindi.
Zardari’s lawyers cried foul and cited the medical issue.
This led to a request by the Rawalpindi court and Interpol issuing a red-corner notice against Benazir and Zardari in January 2006.
Benazir returned to Pakistan September 2007 and said her husband was in New York City undergoing medical treatment.
A bomb explosion in Karachi October 2007 nearly killed Benazir.
Zardari blamed the ISI for it.
“It is clearly the handiwork of the intelligence and I know it was not done by militants,” Zardari was quoted as saying from Dubai where he was staying with his two daughters.
Even as Benazir flew to meet with her husband in November 2007, Musharraf clamped an emergency meant to last six weeks to curb rising Islamist militancy.
Benazir returned to Pakistan to ‘fight injustice.’
Interestingly, the emergency promulgation was a few days before Pakistan’s Supreme Court began deliberations on the legality of Musharraf’s U.S.-backed proposal—the National Reconciliation Ordinance.
The main motive of the Ordinance was to drop corruption charges against Bhutto and Zardari in return for a joint Bhutto-Musharraf coalition to govern Pakistan.
This resulted in one of the most hilarious ironies.
Bhutto and Zardari claimed they were with Musharraf in his slamming the Pakistani Supreme Court, but were finding common ground in the Supreme Court’s criticism of Mushy’s martial law!
As expected, Musharraf soon changed the law and the judges!
In Pakistan, Musharraf granted him amnesty for his alleged offences through the National Reconciliation Ordinance, drafted in October 2007.
However, the ordinance faced mounting public pressure and from an uncompromising judiciary.
In addition, it only dealt with charges up to 1999.
This left open the possibility of investigations into Zardari’s alleged payment $2 million in illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, discovered in October 2005, under the oil-for-food programme.
The removal of the Ordinance would have meant Zardari facing charges relating to evading duties on an armoured BMW luxury vehicle, kickbacks received from a tractor manufacturer based in Poland and slush funds paid by gold bullion dealer.
In Switzerland, Bhutto and Zardari appealed against the 2003 Swiss conviction, which required the reopening of the case in October 2007.
In November 2007, Swiss authorities returned the frozen $60 million to Zardari through offshore companies citing the National Reconciliation Ordinance.
In Spain, a criminal investigation was underway against Zardari over charges of money laundering vide the oil-for-food programme.
In Britain, he was fighting a civil case against the Pakistani government for the proceeds from the liquidation sale of a palatial residence in Surrey, in the outskirts of London.
The medical issue helped Zardari in this to postpone these trials.
To keep off prisons during exile, Zardari alternated between homes in New York, London, and Dubai, where his three children lived.
On the night of 27 December 2007, Zardari returned to Pakistan following the assassination of Benazir and promptly prevented an autopsy ‘in accordance with Islamic principles’.
Nobody bothered to point out that when the Koran was being transcribed for the first time, there was no such thing called an autopsy and hence it could not have been proscribed at all.
Obviously, Musharraf and Zardari did not want the discovery of the evidence that could prove that Benazir could have been shot from a long-rage sniper rifle and not by some cowboy style assassin in the vicinity of her open-topped car.
Zardari rebuffed government allegations that the assassination was sponsored by Al Qaeda whose formation, incidentally, was funded by Benazir herself!
He called for an international inquiry into her death and stated that she would still be alive if Musharraf’s government had provided adequate protection and demanded the exhumation of Benazir’s body and an enquiry of the murder under the supervision of the United Nations.
Promptly, as expected, Musharraf rejected the proposal.
Zardari produced a will reportedly written by Benazir and claimed he was her designated political successor and leader of the Pakistani People’s Party.
When political opponents laughed at this joke, Zardari check-mated critics and declared his 19-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Chairman of the PPP.
In January 2008, Zardari suggested that if his party won a majority, it might form a coalition with Musharraf’s Pakistan Muslim League – Q [PML-Q].
Zardari also managed to rope in Sharif, leader of the PML-N to issue a joint threat to trigger national protests if any vote-rigging was attempted during the 2008 elections.
Cleverly, Zardari stymied all attempts to charge him with masterminding a family coup by claiming he had no political ambition as he had not filed election papers in November 2008 when Benazir was alive.
“I had no political ambition then, and I have no political ambition now,” Zardari was quoted as saying.
The PPP and the PML-N won the largest and second largest number of seats respectively in the February 2008 elections.
Zardari and Mr Sharif had agreed to form a coalition government, ending American hopes of a power-sharing deal between him and Musharraf.
Then Zardari check-mated Mr Sharif and Musharraf and the USA by creating a rainbow agreement to involve all political sides in Pakistan that included entities like Muttahida Qaumi Movement [MQM], the Awami National Party and various sections of Baloch nationalist outfits – all of which had boycotted the polls.
The American point-person Anne W Patterson was fooled through endless procrastinations and Zardari brought in his personal pigeon Yusuf Reza Gilani instead of the US choice Maqdoom Amin Fahim.
Mr Sharif had been, unfortunately, misled by the Zardari offer to reinstate 60 judges previously sacked by Musharraf vide the April 2008 Murree Pact co-signed by Zardari.
Sickened by the never-ending procrastinations, Mr Mr Sharif and your PML-N pulled out of the coalition government in mid-May.
Zardari proposed a constitutional amendment that would remove the power of the President to dismiss Parliament, dangled a public confrontation with Musharraf and his PML-Q and managed Pakistan’s readmission into the Commonwealth to get international recognition.
On the one hand Zardari and Mr Sharif continued negotiations to remove Musharraf lock, stock and barrel.
On the other, Musharraf was being given assurances of being left untouched by constitutional provision which a needed a massive majority in the lower and upper houses to impeach that the regime did not have.
Mr Sharif was prevented from taking part in the June 2008 by-elections on the basis of the same rules and thus kept out of the power equation.
In August 2008 Zardari scared the living daylights out of Pervez by starting impeachment proceedings on charges that included high treason for the 1999 coup and the imposition of martial law. As expected, the brave general resigned and made himself scarce soon thereafter.
That killed 2 birds with one stone.
Mr Sharif perhaps has neither forgotten nor forgiven Pervez.
So, PML-N ended up supporting the chimera of a resolution to impeach Pervez that got rid of Pervez.
But the victory of the resolution and Pervez’s flight resulted in the PML-N MPs’ relegated to the opposition benches.
Yet again, using the departure of Musharraf as a smokescreen, Zardari baited the USA by dangling the juicy offer of chasing away tribal militants in the northwest borders of Pakistan.
To qualify to be made president, he claimed to possess a London business school degree to satisfy a prerequisite, but stopped short of producing the all-important certificate which could have proven the forgery.
His own PPP and the MQM en proposed he be made President.
Mr Sharif’s PML-N nominated former justice Sayeed-uz-Zamaan Siddiqui.
PML-Q nominated Mushahid Hussein.
Zardari’s hopelessly divided opponents ensured he won a majority through the Electoral College polling 481 out of 702 votes and was declared elected President on 6 September 2008.
The swearing in ceremony 9 September 2008 was attended by a similar political Houdini, Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Yet again, the West was lulled into complacency by Zardari saying as a loyal servant, he was cultivating Karzai.
For some strange reason, the West bought this lemon, despite knowing that if Karzai was as trustworthy as a fox, in comparison, Zardari was to be treated as one would handle a three-headed black mamba.
Very carefully, Zardari created his multiple plans’ and the escape routes if any and all of them failed.
Zardari allowed the creation of drone bases by the USA, leaked info about Taliban strongholds to the CIA and the best trick of it all was selling the Americans the idea that if Zardari took the blame, the USA would emerge from it smelling like roses.
It was hook, line and sinker against the USA and in favour of Zardari. When the Taliban and Al Qaeda began falling like ninepins during drone attacks [some of them being termed accidental collateral damage, whatever that means] Zardari shifted the blame to the Americans but pretended to attempt to restore parity and sanity.
The Taliban and Al Qaeda, having outlived their usefulness for over a decade began getting killed like flies. Zardari took the blame but took extra care to keep mentioning that he was doing a job upon the bidding of American masters as Pakistan’s economy needed it.
This triggered protests in Pakistan against the so-called ugly American infidels.
Zardari garnered some sympathy in Pakistan and a lot of anger in the USA.
After the election, Zardari promised to approve the constitutional provision that removed the President’s power to dismiss Parliament, but public scepticism remained on whether he would actually carry out his promise.
His economic competence was questioned after allegations that he had raised grain procurement prices through inflationary subsidies and scrapped the capital gains tax.
From 23 to 26 September 2008, he met with various foreign leaders, including U.S. President George W Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Although, at the United Nations General Assembly Zardari publicly condemned US drone attacks inside Pakistan, the Washington Post reported that he had signed a “secret deal” when he met with senior American officials that arranged for the coordination of Predator strikes and a jointly approved list of prominent targets. He and Indian Prime Minister Singh agreed to resume peace talks by the end of 2008.
From 14 to 17 October 2008, Zardari was in China to negotiate foreign aid, as Pakistan faced the possibility of defaulting on its payments.
China refused to offer any aid commitments, but instead promised to provide assistance in the development of two nuclear power plants and more future business investments.
United Arab Emirates refused to provide any bailout, Zardari officially asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance in solving Pakistan’s balance of payments problem on 22 October.
He went to Saudi Arabia from 4 to 6 November in hopes of obtaining financial aid and securing trade agreements.
Leaked cables revealed increasingly strained relations between Zardari and Saudi royalty, primarily because of Saudi distrust of Zardari and preference for Mr Sharif.
Weaker cooperation led to decreased oil subsidies as part of a broader Saudi policy of withholding monetary assistance.
In mid-November 2008, Zardari’s government officially sent a letter of intent to the IMF regarding a bailout to help increase its foreign exchange reserves.
In a $11.3 billion multi-year loan package, Pakistan received a $7.4 billion loan for 2008–10.
The IMF stipulated stringent reform conditions, which included rebuilding the tax structure and privatising state enterprises.
The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank withheld a combined $3 billion aid in the 2010–11 fiscal year and the IMF withheld since May 2010 the last segment of its aid package.
In January 2011, the MQM withdrew from the government.
Zardari’s ruling coalition averted a government collapse by accepting the opposition’s economic proposals, which restored gas subsidies and abandoned many of the IMF’s suggested reforms.
In an effort to curb government expenditures, Zardari swore in an “austerity cabinet” in February 2011 which reduced the cabinet from 60 ministers to 22.
In early October 2008, he received fierce domestic criticism for repeatedly calling Kashmiri nationalists in India “terrorists”.
In mid-November 2008, he suggested Pakistan was ready for a no-first-use nuclear policy and called for closer economic ties.
And then Zardari’s ISI masterminded the November 26 2008 terrorist strike in Mumbai that left 166 persons including over a dozen police officials dead plus it crippled India’s financial capital’ economic viability.
Cool as a cucumber, Zardari initially denied any links between the perpetrators and Pakistan for the benefit of his local press, but pretended to pursue military action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders in a 7 December raid.
India cleared Zardari’s government of any direct involvement in the attacks, but simultaneously demanded the extradition of 20 Pakistanis which it alleged had taken part in them.
That was what Zardari wanted.
He was never serious about the extradition of the Pakistanis.
So, he offered to send Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Ahmed Shuja Pasha [now in disgrace, more or less] to ‘assist in the investigation.’
The government has had a longstanding conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATA] and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [KP] – regions along the Pak-Afghan border.
Diplomatic relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai improved after Musharraf’s departure and Zardari’s rise to power.
The Obama administration’s AFPAK policy, through Richard Holbrooke reflected the unified approach the United States took in dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In his first visit to Afghanistan as President in early January 2009, Zardari promised a renewed relationship to improve cooperation.
In late March, Obama announced a civilian aid package of $7.5 billion over five years in return for cooperation in the AFPAK conflict.
In late April, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Zardari and promised $1 billion over the next four years.
In May, Obama held a trilateral summit in Washington D.C with Karzai and Zardari, where they discussed further cooperation.
At Brussels in mid-June, Zardari unsuccessfully sought trade concessions from the European Union; it instead pledged $90 million development aid to curtail tribal influence by insurgents.
After the US Congress passed Obama’s civilian aid package in October, army generals in the Pakistan’s military establishment widened the growing rift between the Zardari regime and openly slammed U.S. interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan!
In February 2009, FATA’s provincial government officially declared application of Sharia – the Islamic fundamentalist law in Swat along the AFPAK border to apparently achieve a ceasefire within the northwest Pashtun tribes.
Citing that the United States and Britain had opposed the measure, Zardari did not sign the Swat ceasefire until mid-April, but got domestic pressure mounted against the west – not only on the streets but also in the Pak Parliament.
By the end of April, the agreement collapsed as the Pakistani military pursued an unpopular offensive in the neighbouring Dir district.
In September 2010, Zardari and Karzai met in Islamabad and both advocated fighting insurgents rather than trying to end the war with diplomacy.
Zardari went to the United States in January 2011 to attend Special Envoy Holbrooke’s funeral.
Following the slaying of Osama bin Laden May 2011, Obama called Zardari and demanded “better collaboration”.
In February 2009, Zardari and the Musharraf-appointed Supreme Court had attempted to disqualify Mr Sharif from running in any elections and tried to force the brother of Sharif to resign as Chief Minister of Punjab Province.
Using that, Zardari had dismissed the PML-N regime in Punjab and only reinstated the judiciary by restoring 56 other judges deposed by Musharraf. He studiously avoided reinstating Chief Justice Ifthekar Chaudhry.
After Mr Sharif defied house arrest and rallied with thousands of his supporters, the Sharif siblings vowed to join forces with the Lawyers’ Long March Movement.
Zardari’s government appeared to give in to popular pressure.
Justice Chaudhry re-assumed his position on 22 March.
Zardari’s month-long direct control of the Punjab ended on 30 March.
In late November 2009, Zardari ceded to the chairmanship of the National Command Authority that includes the control over Pakistan’s nuke arsenal to Prime Minister Gilani.
In December 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the National Reconciliation Ordinance amnesty that kept him off prosecution was unconstitutional, which cleared the way for the revival of corruption cases against Zardari.
Zardari’s claim of immunity from prosecution on the grounds of being the President of a nation is now more or less gone because, the very legality of his presidency was challenged.
Calls for his resignation escalated.
In January 2010, the Supreme Court ordered Pakistan’s government to reopen Zardari’s corruption charges in Switzerland.
However, Zardari managed to prevent your supporter the Attorney General Anwar Mansoor, from filing charges and remote-controlled your ‘protest resignation’ in early April 2010.
Significantly, the same month, Geneva Attorney General Daniel Zappelli stated that Zardari cannot be prosecuted under international law owing to his presidential immunity.
Zardari’s pigeon Prime Minister Gilani used that fig-leaf and defied the Supreme Court order, which has resulted in the Supreme Court initiating contempt proceedings against the latter.
In April 2010, after months of political pressure, the government passed the 18th Amendment, which reduced the President to a ceremonial figurehead by stripping the office of the power to dissolve Parliament, to dismiss the Prime Minister, and to appoint military chiefs.
The amendment also lifted the restriction of two terms as Prime Minister, which enabled Zardari’s foremost political rival, Mr Sharif, to seek a third term.
The amendment was passed with virtually unanimous support in Parliament and Zardari himself espoused the legislation.
After the 18th Amendment, Zardari’s main power derived from his position as leader of the PPP, which controls the largest bloc in Parliament.
British Prime Minister David Cameron sparked a serious diplomatic row with Pakistan during his visit to India in 2010 by stating that elements within Pakistan were promoting the “export of terror” a week before a planned visit by Zardari to Britain.
Zardari ignored domestic pressure and began his European trip in Paris on 1 August, meeting French President Sarkozy even as Pakistan was reeling under floods.
In France, Zardari was rebuked by the U.S. upon his stating that NATO had “lost the battle for hearts and minds” in the Afghan war.
As the floods’ devastation became increasingly evident, he was widely criticised for flying in a helicopter to his Normandy chateau and dining at Cameron’s official Chequers countryside home.
Protests within Britain grew against his visit.
Zardari weathered all this by getting the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to tour the flood affected areas in a chopper and got the matter wide publicity.
But, the pressure against him in Pakistan was building even more.
In early December 2011, in what is widely considered a dry run for an eventual flight to escape Pakistan finally, Zardari flew to Dubai for apparently undergoing medical tests and treatment, reportedly for a “small stroke”.
Gilani explained the whole thing away by saying Zardari sought medical treatment outside of Pakistan because of threats to his life at home.
Zardari was cornered on all fronts … but the Memo-Gate came in handy to provide a reprieve.
It is all about a so-called memo sent to the USA seeking intervention into the affairs within Pakistan.
The apparent health issue provided Zardari the opportunity to recuperate at the Persian Gulf mid-December onwards allowing his son Bilawal, the chairman of PPP to assume a more prominent role in Pakistan.
Zardari has officially changed his son’s name to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to apparently cash in on the charisma of his late wife and father-in-law.
The other justification, however, is that Bilawal has to accept the leadership [Tumandaari] of the Zardari tribe since the death of his father Hakim Ali in May 2011.
Many in the Pak media believe that it is a clever ruse to build a charisma around the name Zardari using the Bhutto bit as a backdrop.
Zardari has repeatedly claimed he was tortured while in prison.
He was diagnosed with dementia, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder between 2005 and 2007.
Those certificates helped influence the verdict of one of the corruption trials conducted against Zardari.
According to official statements issued by the government of Pakistan, but for high blood pressure and diabetes, Zardari is completely healthy, whatever that means.
According to Daily Pakistan, the estimated known wealth of Zardari is in excess of US$ 2 billion making him the second richest man in his nation.
His real estate includes palaces in UK, France, USA and Dubai besides palatial residences in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.
His 365-acre 20-bedroom luxury estate in Rockwood, located in Surrey, south of London city purchased in 1995 through a chain of firms, trusts, and offshore companies in 1994 is said to be worth over £ 700 million [INR 560 crores].
Though Zardari has been accused of stealing valuable art treasures to stash them in his mansion in Surrey, though he had denied its ownership in the past, the Pak leader is fighting a court case over its ‘liquidation’ and the proceeds of its sale are now in the custody of a civil court in Britain.
Zardari’s game-plan was and still is very simple.
The ill-kept secret of the US$ 18 trillion worth mineral wealth of Afghanistan is known to virtually everyone who matters and that includes the good man Asif Ali Zardari.
The USA establishing the alternate route through the former Soviet Republics into Afghanistan for the past 3 years is another fact he knew and knows more details.
The USA had enlisted the support of India to tackle Islamic terrorism in Afghanistan to apparently spite lawless Pakistan but is actually doing so simply because the access through India upon the ‘liberation’ of Kashmir and the total Kashmiri entity joining India lock stock and barrel is a distinct possibility. That is another ill-kept secret that Zardari knows.
A little trouble in Baluchistan and that parcel of land being declared a ripe war zone for independence would give the West cheap manpower, use of the port of Kandla, over-flying permission from Diego Garcia airbase over Indian airspace and India’s cooperation to spite Pakistan would land Zardari in a political corner from where he cannot emerge at all.
Zardari had worked this out.
So, the anti-India rhetoric was whipped up in Pakistan, fundamentalist separatists in Kashmir funded even more and the army began attacking the Taliban stronghold of Waziristan in the company of the American drones … and all the honour went to Zardari and the criticisms went against the USA.
The Islamic tribal population on either side of the Pak-Afghan border are in two minds – whether to continue slamming the USA and support Pakistan’s bid for ‘liberating Kashmir’ or go back to their wild ways … would suit the mindless violent agenda of Taliban on either side of the Pak-Afghan border – stuff that would suit the political agenda of Zardari nicely.
So, Zardari would continue to be in cahoots with the drug-smuggler boss of Afghanistan and the so called Mayor of a section of Kabul – Hamid Karzai under the guise of closer cooperation between the two nations in addressing the tribal insurgency along the Pak-Afghan border.