A minor mystery to me was why Asif Ali Zardari, as regent of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), chose Syed Yusaf Raza Gillani, a man not many people outside of hardcore Pakistani political circles had heard of. The pundit favourite in the run up to selecting a Prime Minister in April 2008, after the February 2008 elections (held under the shadow of the assassination of former PM Benazir Bhutto) was Makhdoom Amin Fahim, a man who Benazir had designated the leader of the PPP throughout the years of the Musharraf era. In all honesty, the PPP did not appear to many observers as a force that could do much during the years following the 2002, semi-rigged, military rule sponsored elections. The PPP was practically banned, but it got around the ban by running as a separately named faction called the Pakistan People's Party (Parliamentarians). The PPPP (or Px4 if you want to be annoyingly specific) was led by Amin Fahim, but one always got a lacklustre feeling for the party during the years of the Musharraf regime. Not only did the party fail to excite, but it became obvious that years of propaganda against the party by the establishment, had compounded the horrific view of incompetence the party had acquired in it's years of power during the nineties. To be fair, when they were in office during the nineties, the party was hemmed in on one side by the military and civil/bureaucratic establishment, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz's party) on the other, and the raging insurgencies in Karachi and urban Sindh, plus the chaos in neighbouring Afghanistan. Benazir had a seriously over-flowing plate of trouble, and I don't blame her, with her limited political capital, focusing on firefighting more than anything else.
But coming back to the Mush years, the PPPP was supposed to represent a broken away rump of the PPP, running under Musharraf's rules. Amin's parliamentary group were supposed to be the PML-Q, to Benazir's "original" PPP. But whereas the PML-Q has become some sort of anemically weak conservative's club even after General Mushrraf's departue (the PML-N has been unable to reunite completely with them), the PPPP was well and truly the PPP, with an extra 'P' attached. This was proven when Benazir's party ran in the Feb 2008 elections, it ran as the PPP-Parliamentarians. Except their leader, Amin Fahim, was NOT running. Quoth a President Zardari phrase in Wikileaks, "had spent most of the [election] campaign in Dubai (with his latest 22 year-old wife)". So Amin Fahim, who is rumoured to have had his sisters married to the Quran (a disgusting practice where women are married of to the Holy Quran, so that they do not marry and split the family land), who already has a lousy (rumoured) track record on women's rights, a man who was born the year Hitler invaded Poland, "that man", had married a 22 year old in 2008.
And he was "honeymooning" with this girl-child whilst his party was fighting it's country's most significant election campaign since 1993. He was fucking around in Dubai, when he should have been campaigning in Pakistan. No wonder future President Zardari said Amin Fahim, "had spent most of the [election] campaign in Dubai (with his latest 22 year-old wife) and was simply too lazy to be prime minister".
Lazy. So lazy you can't be bothered to show up for your party's most important election in a decade.
No wonder Zardari had no choice but to select Yusaf Raza Gillani. Even this cipher, with the jail addled brains would priove more reliable than Amin Fahim. And if Amin Fahim suffers from a laziness of such epic proportions, this also explains why the PPP structue was unable to mobilise much support during the Musharraf era. A lazy person, especially one with a Mustafa Khar like "appreciation" (minus the beatings) for women would not be the best person to do a re-vitalisation of the PPP. And he would certainly not have the imagination to revitalise even passive liberals of Pakistan. That is low hanging fruit, and a good PPP party worker would've been able to take some advantage of it, and had a small band of people rolling against the Musharraf government under the aegis of Musharraf, simply being unavoidable, and having our country's gentlemanly dictator resisted earlier, would have been the conscionable thing to do. Iftikhar Chaudhry would have been unnecessary. Maybe Musharraf could have been forced out earlier, with less drama.
And this Wikileaks cable helps prove it.
Incidentially, this paper also begins with outlining the succesion line that President Asif Ali Zardari had made in case he was assassinated; nominate his sister. I don't know if Ms Faryal Gauhar would be up to being President of Pakistan. Nepotism is an art with a group like the Zardari-Bhuttos. But it would've been annoying to the powers that be (to "eliminate" Zardari, and have his sister come in like spies) and that they would maybe, maybe stop trying to undermine democratically elected governments.
I don't think Faryal Talpur, would in any way be upto the role of President. Thank God, that "technically", the presidency of Pakistan is now (mostly) supposed to be a ceremonial role. Even with our jail-addled cypher of a Prime Minister, he strikes a Gladstone-ian chord in comparison to the prospect of Mr Zardari's sister, succeeding the man to the President of Pakistan. One shudders at time for this fair country.
Correction: I accidently wrote that President's Asif Ali Zardari's sister is Faryal Gauhar. As Anon 4:28 pointed out, her name is actually Faryal Talpur.