Zardarization of Pakistan Continues

Asif Zardari’s quest to consolidate power in Pakistan proceeds without much political opposition.

Today, he replaced the retiring Chief of Navy Admiral Afzal Tahir with Vice Admiral (now Admiral) Noman Bashir, who superseded Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Asaf Humayun.

Admiral Bashir also happens to be the brother of the Zardari-appointed foreign secretary, Salman Bashir,  who replaced Riaz Muhammad Khan in quite a controversial fashion.

Well, no big deal since this is, after all, ‘Zardari’s navy.’  Note in a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Zardari refers to the Intelligence Bureau as “my IB,” the Pakistan Air Force’s F-16s as “my F-16s,” and law enforcement as “my police.”  The ‘commission fee’ is now 100%, it seems.

Curious how Zardari managed to convert Bret Stephens from a harsh critic into a supporter of sorts in less than a month.  In September, Stephens called Zardari “a category 5 disaster.” Perhaps Zardari threatened a hug.

Note: Admiral Bashir writes in a 2000 research paper titled “Afghanistan and the ‘New Great Game’” that the Taliban “are inward rather than outward looking” and have “signalled readiness to engage constructively with the international community.”  He adds: “Keeping Afghanistan broken and destabilized suits those who do not want the Caspian/Central Asian oil and gas pipelines to take one of the shortest and economical outlets over Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea.”

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Category: Asif Zardari


6 Responses

  1. Anwer Kamal says:

    Nothing to comment here except that these type of changes and appointments you can see at USA and UK after every election.I have to ask everyone that please gine and try to give more and more possitive and practicable sujjessions at this stage but I am also afraid that our beurocracy is expert to involve rulers in the unnecessary matters and to keep status co for their very low intrests and their colonialism poor thinking.Everytime this happens in Pakistan.Let them know that There is no Z A Bhutto or BEnazir now if they could not deliver this time to get votes next time. I ask Presedent Zardari,Prime Minister Gailani,Nawaz Sharif,Asfand Yar Wali and Altaf Hussin to change the history and eork for people,Give them Justiceand Education to public and stop or even try to stop corruption and I am confident that they can do.I have to tell them that this is last time to do this and this is only way to fight against terrorism.Let the People to believe on you.

  2. Arif, interesting comments from Admiral Bashir:

    “Keeping Afghanistan broken and destabilized suits those who do not want the Caspian/Central Asian oil and gas pipelines to take one of the shortest and economical outlets over Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea.”

    Did you manage to get hold of the whole of his research paper? (I can only find the extract so far).

    Otherwise, do you know who he is referring to when he writes about those who want to keep Afghanistan destabilised?

  3. Arif Rafiq says:

    Anwer, I agree that the civilian politicians need to re-establish the public’s trust in them. To do this, they need to deliver (as you indicate) on very essential things: the economy, education, law and order, justice, etc.



    Unfortunately I’ve only been able to access the abstract.

    Considering that the paper was written in 2000, I think he is referring to the patrons of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance at the time: India, Iran, and Russia.

    It seems like he’s arguing that the Taliban have served as a source of much needed stability, and that foreign backed forces serve as an obstacle. A national and regional accord is necessary for bringing stability and progress to Afghanistan and neighboring states.

    Ironically, such a proposal is being proposed nowadays — with some adjustment in terms of the alliances.

  4. AKS says:


    I wonder what you actually make of the remodeling of institutions by President Zardari. I’m personally unsure about what sort of long term impact Mr. Zardari’s presidency will have on the structure and constitution of state institutions.

    The thing that scares me is that other actors, and the public at large, may be too preoccupied with dealing with the Economy and Taliban to realise that everything else has gone to the dogs.

    Take for example the fact that the government has yet to appoint individual ministers to take charge of various ministries, as a result people like Ms. Sherry Rehman are responsible for more than one portfolio. (Ms. Rehman holds three charges: Information, Health AND Women’s Development; and as someone who works with pharmaceutical companies, let me tell you the Ministry of Health is in serious trouble.) In addition to this there has been a whole scale change in the bureaucracy and law enforcement, which is the wont of any new government, but due to the aforementioned pressing issues it’s pretty much all been done in the dark.

  5. Arif Rafiq says:


    Sorry, I missed your comment. In the month since you posted it, the cabinet has expanded, but some important ministries remain leaderless. The problems in Pakistan are just snowballing; each new one is far worse than the previous. But that is no excuse for ignoring key structural and constitutional issues. They are, in fact, at the problems with law and order and the economy.

    As for the long term impact, I am unsure. No meaningful change/reform has occurred; the only result I can foresee is continued institutional decay.

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Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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