Saudis call the shots
ISLAMABAD: The “advisers are under fire. Yesterday it was Dr Aasim’s turn to face the members’ wrath. The prime minister must have been very happy when Hanif Abbasi “grilled" the president’s “friend" for his failure to handle the gas crisis that resulted in countrywide public agitation. Surely, Mr Gilani cannot be held responsible for all crises when his hands are tied and the adviser-friends of the big boss are holding important portfolios: be it interior, NRB, finance or petroleum – all critical positions.
Hanif Abbasi questioned the eligibility of Dr Aasim as adviser to the prime minister on petroleum and natural resources and the latter exposed himself when he could not answer the members’ questions. “Stop playing with the fate of this country, Hanif Abbasi yelled and the members laughed at him. He also holds the post of the adviser on the NRB. His platonic wisdom is being challenged daily.
Meanwhile, the rumourmongers continue to have a good time about imminent change. Many PPP’s members now surprisingly talk about intra-party conflicts and hold the leadership responsible for a downslide in the party’s popularity. “It’s not time for drawing-room politics... we have told “him" many a time to take corrective measures but a group of friends and advisers has distanced him from the ground realities, a perturbed PPP parliamentarian said while talking to a group of journalists in an assumingly not-bugged corner of Parliament House.
Many PPP parliamentarians believe that the party workers are not willing to hush up Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. “Nothing short of an inquiry into BB’s assassination and repeal of the 17th Constitutional Amendment within the framework of the Charter of Democracy can resolve the differences within the party and political crisis in the country, another PPP parliamentarian said, summing up the discussion. But does Mr Zardari realise this in his bunkered Presidency?
The government continues to face criticism for awarding the highest national awards to Richard Boucher and US VP-elect Joe Biden. The PML-N’s Ayaz Amir raised this issue and made a point that if anyone deserved an award for bringing an end to the rule of General Musharraf, it were the people of Pakistan and the legal community of the country. But the prime minister quickly responded to the objection and paid tributes to Benazir Bhutto for her sagacity, which, he said, had forced General Musharraf to doff his uniform. That is correct.
The prime minister, however, defended one award for US VP-elect for his being pro-Pakistan but he did not say that the members of the “kitchen cabinet" had opposed even the award for Joe Biden. An insider says the award was given on the insistence of a “friend in Washington" whom his mole had informed on the hotline about the resistance. The Rules of Business were ignored and no approval of the cabinet committee on awards was taken – the friend prevailed. Biden is the originator of the $15 billion US aid package to Pakistan over the next 10 years that is meant exclusively for economic uplift and development.
The Saudi intelligence chief was also in town. And this time again on a mission. At a luncheon meeting with the prime minister and all top politicians of the country, he delivered His Majesty’s message to everyone and the message was: Maintain (political) unity among your ranks to fight extremism and terrorism. He also had a separate meeting with Nawaz Sharif who then held a “press conference" only with six private TV channels understandably to avoid a volley of questions from media persons. The message seemed to have been properly conveyed and Nawaz Sharif was relatively restrictive this time while talking about the government.
While the reports of a showdown in the Punjab were coming from different quarters, PPP’s Qasim Zia and PML-Q’s Moonis Elahi were being tipped for the top position in the province. But with the visit of the Saudi intelligence chief and his message of political unity, the move seems to have been put on hold at least for the time being.
PS: Hear him admit it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAZmO80dLfE
In an Interview with "Shalom-TV", he said the following things:
"The difference between now and before 9/11: many Americans can taste what it must feel like for every Israeli mother and father when they send their kid out to school with their lunch to put them on a bus, on a bicycle or to walk; and they pray to God that cell phone doesn't ring."
"Imagine our circumstance in the world were there no Israel. How many battleships would there be? How many troops would be stationed?"
"The second part is: people should understand by now that Israel is the single greatest strength America has in the Middle East."
"I am a Zionist," stated Senator Biden. "You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist."