Battle royal


Politics in Pakistan might be heading towards yet another battle royal as its newly-minted president, Asif Ali Zardari’s decision to seek refuge in presidential immunity to protect himself from legal proceedings in two corruption cases brought against him by the National Accountability Bureau douse the raging controversies in kerosene.
If law is to be believed, Mr Zardari has done nothing wrong. He is well within his rights as the ceremonial figurehead of the state to use this legal shield. Furthermore, because he has never attempted to run away from court appearances, this move might have been green-lit as a reasonable strategy to start the innings with a clean slate.
Instead of being hounded by summons and media queries, the executive would have wanted free time to focus on his core responsibilities. However, the optics of this development cannot be ignored. Even a cursory glance at the negative implications of what can easily be called an exploitation of the presidential position should have convinced him to avoid going down this road.
Although his rivals march along with tainted hands themselves, they are bound to raise some discomforting questions, drawing parallels and concocting stories about why one politician can enjoy such relief while others are being forced to face the music. No matter what the actual writing on the wall suggests, it does not take long for social media warriors to twist words and launch torpedoes in the name of evasion of accountability.
They would still be advised to read the marvels of our recent history and realise that he would neither be the first nor the only one. We have repeatedly seen how judicial reliefs find their way to be served to favourites, that too, on a silver platter if it is their turn to be heralded as a phoenix rising from ashes. The power games of the elite never end.