Saturday, July 24, 2010

Zardari struggling to gain respect of his country men

Unlike the rest of the world where dog is considered a man’s best friend, in Pakistan and some Arab countries dogs are vilified and hated. It is also the term used as an adjective with the name of a hated politician or a high-ranking military official.  General Ayub Khan, General Zia, General Musharraf, and a whole host of Pakistani politicians have seen the term “kutta” (dog) attached to their names when their popularity graph took a nosedive.

With the internet, one can in fact see how politicians are viewed by the masses. The current President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, serves an interesting example. When I reviewed the terms used to search Mr. Zardari on the Google search engine in the past 12 months, the following list turned up.


While the first few entries are variations of his name, the fourth one on the list is the most important one where you could see the derogatory suffix attached to Mr. Zardari’s name. Of course there are other references to the jokes that circulated the net in the past prompting Mr. Zardari’s loyalist legislators to introduce a law that would ban making jokes about Mr. Zardari.

Mr. Zardari assumed the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party after the death of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, in December 2007. The initial years, i.e., 2008 and 2009, suggest that Mr. Zardari had not yet fallen out of favour for the internet savvy in Pakistan. The searches conducted in 2008 did not make any reference to jokes that had started to circulate the net. By 2009, however, the internet users in Pakistan were searching for “funny Zardari”, which the President obviously did not find funny at all.

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It appears that the term “Zardari Kutta” gained currency in October 2009 and continued to gain in popularity until July 2010.

Politics in Pakistan is a dangerous affair. Pakistan’s political machine is unforgiving and cruel where politicians have lost credibility, money and even life. There is no reason to abandon respect in political debate. This lesson is lost on both politicians and the masses in Pakistan. Venting anger should have better channels in Pakistan than the convention of name calling.

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