President Asif Ali Zardari has made history today by becoming the first civilian president of Pakistan to complete his five-year tenure.
However, Zardari has faced more negative propaganda during his tenure than any other political figure.
Many conspiracy theories were fabricated and unleashed against him since he became the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman and even his most well-intentioned statements were misconstrued.
After Zardari became the country’s president, the Presidency was dubbed as a hub of conspiracies.
Zardari’s rise to prominence was considered accidental and it was prophesised that his political career would be a short-lived. Some cynics even labeled him as a ‘beneficiary’ of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.
With the passage of time, Zardari-bashing became a fashion among the intelligentsia. A roadmap of his collapse was announced by analysts and deadlines of his departure were delivered every other month.
Doubts were raised even over his mental health.
However, Zardari did not lose his composure at a time when the PPP was going through the worst crisis in the party’s history since the hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Zardari negated all hunches about his political acumen and disproved the theories that the PPP government would not be able to survive in the absence of high-profile party leadership.
He introduced and pursued the policy of reconciliation with all political forces. Zardari had no personal legacy or charisma to his credit but he performed well within his limitations.
He made efforts to bring parties with diverse ideologies on one platform. Starting from a fragile foundation, he consolidated his position over time.
Zardari never enjoyed the status of a top national leader and he never claimed to be one either. He made his mark with his political wisdom, personal humility and an inexhaustible tolerance. Had there been a World Tolerance Award, Zardari would have been a potential candidate.
Defying all estimates about his character and proving predictions about his political career wrong, Zardari completes his tenure as president today and will leave the Presidency with grace.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif showed his statesmanship by bidding farewell to Zardari in a very honourable style.
The speech made by the prime minister on the occasion reflected his generosity of spirit and was deservedly admired by everyone. The mood and sentiments at the farewell luncheon bodes well for the political future of the country.