Pakistani Christians and Muslims : Zardari, a presidency of highs and lows
by Jibran Khan
For the first time a national leader has been able to conclude his mandate and ensure a “soft” transition of power. He is credited with having promoted a "political consensus" and given " more powers to the Parliament ." The appointment of a Catholic minister a sign of concern for minorities. But allegations of corruption and the lack of economic and social development weigh on his term of office.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - A promoter of a " politics of consensus " ; author of passage of a "constitutional reform " that gave greater powers to the Parliament and the appointment of a Catholic to the post of Federal Minister ; defender of democracy even amid accusations of corruption. Despite some highs and lows, the opinions of Christians and Muslim ( moderate )s interviewed by AsiaNews , on Asif Ali Zardari's recently ended five-year presidency of the Republic of Pakistan are largely unanimous. In a country marked by a deep economic crisis and Islamist violence - against which his Pakistan People's Party (PPP ) can not be held blameless - he was able to carry out ( for the first time ever ) his mandate , and has ensured at the same time , a peaceful and democratic handover with his successor - Himari Hussain , of the Pakistan Muslim League ( N).

Zardari was launched on the national political scene after the death of his wife Benazir Bhutto , until then the soul of the PPP founded by her father Zulfikar Ali.  Bhutto was murdered in December 2007 during an election rally in Rawalpindi . Zardari picked up the baton , even amid corruption allegations that arrived from Switzerland and obstacles placed in his path by the judiciary and the military. He proved capable of bringing in reforms and major changes , even if the country is still lagging behind in terms of economic growth and still too prone to Islamic extremist violence .

Even his detractors point to the" national reconciliation" that made him popular and worthy of respect, as well as the signature of interesting economic agreements including the pipeline from Pakistan and Iran. And welcoming his successor, he promised cooperation in the democratic path "against the forces who want to destabilize the country" and promised he would "answer the charges in court , as I have always done in the past , even if it comes to political attacks " against his party .

Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr . Rufin Anthony , bishop of Islamabad / Rawalpindi , speaks of a charismatic leader who was able to lead the country for five years and has always fought for democracy. "His policies aimed at consensus - he adds - have made him popular even among critics" and hw was able to ignore or forgive" all the personal attacks that he received ." For Fr. Anwar Patras , of the Diocese of Rawalpindi , the former president was able to " keep the bar of democracy squarely in front of him," speaking in defense of minorities and elevating to the rank of Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti , a personality from a minority.

Zardari was also praised by the moderate Muslims of Pakistan. Maulana Ali Muratib , of the Ulema Council , said he had never been a supporter of the PPP , but " Zardari as head of state has behaved well ." The former president has fought for democracy and, despite allegations of corruption, " his work will be remembered forever ." A view shared by Maulana Muhammad Arif Sheikh , a member of Islamic Ideology Council, that Zardari " deserves respect " regardless of the criticisms that can be leveled  against him. " He was able to leave the palace - he adds - with unprecedented style" and has taken significant steps "for the development" of the country . "Not just a good politician - he said - but also a true statesman. His party lost the last election because of a negative media campaign, and the repeated attacks of the judiciary and the army. Nevertheless , he is the only politician capable of joining the liberal forces of the whole nation and I hope he will focus his energy for this purpose. "