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BOL Move, Zardari

by Newsweek Pakistan

Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

PPP denies that former president is turning political analyst with ‘Pakistan Khappay with President Asif Ali Zardari.’

On March 19, former president Asif Ali Zardari headlined a political talk show on the private BOL network, in which he responded to questions on the ruling PMLN’s governance and offered alternates that his PPP could have pursued if they were still in power. The show, Pakistan Khappay with President Asif Ali Zardari, was announced by the channel’s official Twitter account with language that suggested he would be a weekly presence on its airwaves. Not so, says the PPP.

Talking to BBC Urdu, PPP leader and Senator Fahatullah Babar claimed Zardari had been appearing as part of an interview—as he had done for various other news channels. The sticking point for Babar, it seems, was that Zardari was being described as a “political analyst” in coverage of the “interview.” Unfortunately for Babar, to paraphrase the Bard, calling a political analyst by any other name still doesn’t make the role any less odious for a former head of state; Zardari used the platform to comment on the alleged misdeeds of the ruling PMLN, while offering “insight” into how the PPP could have been the country’s savior if it had been in power.

Zardari’s move to TV has, unsurprisingly, prompted ridicule for the PPP co-chairman. Pakistanis on social media have claimed he is seeking attention and have blasted his attempt to “increase his media exposure.” Tweeting with the #KhodaBOLniklaZardari hashtag, people across the country have called him corrupt and immoral for his past actions—none of which have ever been proven in court. The PPP seems very aware of this backlash, as in addition to Babar, other party leaders have also been taking pains to “correct” the impression that Zardari has turned political analyst. Sherry Rehman, on Twitter, said it was a ‘disinformation’ campaign.

Zardari isn’t the first person to headline a show on BOL. Former president Gen. (retd.) Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Tahirul Qadri have both been offered a spotlight at the channel. Whether they, too, are merely interview subjects remains to be seen.

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