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Zardari goes shopping


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Yesterday evening at around 5:30 pm I decided to a walk on the road behind Bilawal House when I noticed a huge police presence. They were stopping all heavy traffic and very quickly a long line of oil tankers began to form.

-Photo by Vaqar Ahmed

Upon speaking with one of the policeman there, I learnt that Mr. Zardari had gone to the Hyperstar Supermarket and the heavy traffic would move only after he had come back.

-Photo by Vaqar Ahmed

The tankers had to wait for an hour before they were allowed to move. I took this as an opportunity to snap a few pictures highlighting just how thoughtful our rulers are.

The policeman and all the truck drivers were chatting. And everyone seemed to be in a jovial mood. None seemed overly concerned about the delay.

-Photo by Vaqar Ahmed

I told the drivers and the policeman there that in my 25 years in Canada I did not encounter one case where the traffic was held up due to VIP movement. They were all amazed.

In addition, they said now that anyone of any importance had armed guards in their convoys, it was hard to tell if it was them or the actual criminals who are the greater threat to the people of Pakistan.


The author is an engineer turned part-time journalist who likes to hangout at unfashionable places like shrines, railway stations and bus stops.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (82) Closed

Ejaz Sep 20, 2012 09:20pm
Zardari is overly concerned about his security. I understand that he has also closed of the road in front of Bilawal House in Clifton. What is he afraid of? His wealth is all outside the country and his son will definitely inherit it all if Zardari is killed. besides like his wife he will be christened Shaheed-e-Qaum. It is a shame that Pakistani people elect such fearful rulers. it is a shame if such rulers that cannot face their own public stay in power.
Rattan(Sydney) Sep 21, 2012 06:05am
Maqbool,very well said but it is not orignal thought:-).nevertheless what a lovely comment.I am in Australia and many MP's and local counselor's travel by buses and trains and even bicycles.
Annas Sep 21, 2012 06:01am
It is very unfortunate to have such a heavy protocol but at the same time we must understand the threat to the VVIP's as well.
Abdul Rashid Sep 21, 2012 07:46pm
Fully agreed we are living in prison we cant move without the orders of our jailers, may ALLAH PAK save from these evils.
Ralph McQuay Sep 21, 2012 04:46pm
Yep, and you stay in Pakistan!
Imtiaz Sep 21, 2012 10:56am
Pakistanis in Canada have become Canadians, they follow the law and respect fellow citizens.
saythetruth10 Sep 21, 2012 06:32am
We deserve this because we let thing guy run the country for 4 years and he is taking us back to stone age, no electricity, no water, no gas, food shortage, unemployment well done Zardari you have really taken Pakistan to a new level.
anees Sep 21, 2012 06:32am
What shopping was he doing?
virani Sep 21, 2012 05:19pm
what else president can do as he have nothing much to so do as country is running smoothly so no worried, keep it up president, waiting for next visit, but do inform atleast 24 hours before to serve you much better by keeping the roads empty.
Raja Sep 21, 2012 04:41pm
Dude, Please don't compare Canada with India or Pak. Sep 20, 2012 02:44pm
I think u r the only one Pakistani who visited Canada and brought this information back. Did u tell them in 25 years u never seen any canadain as much happy?
Dr. Rahman Sep 21, 2012 02:30pm
Really! What makes you so expert. Living in Canada gives you the right to speak so low about Pakistan. Pakistan is the victim of Afghan War! Your native India has its share of unrest!
Raj Sep 21, 2012 10:43pm
there used to be a person who used to come to my store almost everyday to buy everyday neccesities until after a few months i was watching him on TV,thats when i came to know that he is the state senator.This is in New York
Ralph McQuay Sep 21, 2012 04:44pm
'Chaos and anarchy' - don't you already have that!!!
Ali Sep 21, 2012 10:24am
I disagree with u Sir, they need heavy protection in order to avoid being killed by someone who knows half of this country's problem are due to LOOTING of these so called VVIP.
Mohsin Sep 21, 2012 08:22am
I love zardari because he has ruined PPP in a way that no one else could have done. Long live zardari for the demise of PPP...The longer he stays in power, the beter it is for opening people eyes...
Saadiya Sep 22, 2012 10:14am
Generalisations and labelling people is offensive
Bilal Sep 21, 2012 08:05am
Welcome to the day-to-day life of people in Islamabad/Pindi, where people are used to being stopped for 1 hour or so due to VIP movement on a daily basis - stories of people dying in ambulances, people being late for work, school, exams etc. are very common. As a student, my favourite excuse to give my father for not getting home on time had become: "Mein Naaqay per phuss gayaa tha 1 ghaintay kay liyay. Musharraf ka convoy jaa rahaa thaa"
observer Sep 21, 2012 07:53am
With due respect, Zambia is yet to get to Pakistan's level. Then the next step would be to become a developed Zambia.
observer Sep 21, 2012 07:51am
If the VVIPs are under threat, they should not appear in public places. Wasting people's time is not justified no matter what.
Imran Sep 21, 2012 07:45am
No Pakistanis in Canada? You obviously haven't been there.
Malik Sep 21, 2012 07:38am
VVIP must also know this isn't Canada or Denmark and should be careful.
Riaz Khan Sep 21, 2012 10:45am
Please do not compare Canada with Pakistan! They are people whereas we are just bunch of crowd.
Syed Ahmed Sep 21, 2012 03:48pm
In the past 10 years that I am in Canada, I have not seen a single VIP movement on the road and else where of the kind witnessed in Pakistan. In a Bank, a Caf
Tariq Ahmed Sep 20, 2012 02:33pm
Our rulers act as if they have solved all th eproblems of the country and deserve to be driven about in long lines of cavalcades like preeining peacocks. The more useless the ruler, the longer lines of police escorts. They are nothing but show off puppets in empty suits. The day our people realize, these puppet rulers are nothing without them, and drag them and their escorts thru the streets, will e the day our nation does a U turn.....until then, there is no hope for change.
faysal1969 Sep 21, 2012 03:32pm
Good job Vaqar Ahmed . We need people like you to educate us.
ROHIT PANDEY Sep 20, 2012 11:25pm
Canada is an oasis of serenity and sanity. Pakistan is a cesspool of terror and insanity. I live in Canada.
maqbool Sep 22, 2012 03:01am
The president goes shopping while the country burns.. many people died in meaningless rioting over some film, and the president, instead of trying to do his part to stop the violence, goes shopping.
Armaan Sep 21, 2012 05:16am
It is done everywhere , But in Pakistan it is done without any reason and for a little walk. Not only the main route was blocked but the adjacent roads and every crossing that leads to the route was blocked.
Navalisod Sep 21, 2012 03:22pm
What about inside the Hyper Star? I wonder if it was not vacated as well. I would like to advise Mr. President to chose Dubai for future shopping, it's just a sea across, and wouldn't take much time in his private, albeit public funded, jet.
Jiten Maurya Sep 22, 2012 12:43pm
saeed is not right. president of united states is always going and coming. I have never heard him blocking a freeway for even an hour. I remember Pres. Clinton was heavily criticized as he had gone for a hair-cut in Los angles while his plane was blocking traffing at an airport.
Westerner Sep 22, 2012 05:03am
you right but Saeed needs to know traffic doesn't stop on any VIP movement. Very rarely you can see but never more than 5 minutes. Better see western world rather than assuming the facts.
feo Sep 21, 2012 06:11pm
Seriously? Stay in Canada, and don't worry about it. Yawn.
Akeel R Sep 20, 2012 04:52pm
Dude.. why do you have to compare the G20 conference situation with this..
Saadiya Sep 22, 2012 10:08am
Well said
Ahmed Sep 21, 2012 01:47am
There is a difference between holding up traffic for an official conference and holding up traffic so the President can go shopping!
SYEDI Sep 21, 2012 07:20pm
syed ahsan Sep 21, 2012 06:28am
I went to Dhaka in 2000. VIP or no VIP, traffic is always a mess there. Karachi is much better.
nh Sep 21, 2012 05:02pm
Very well agreed with you Riaz Khan.
Zakir Akbar Sep 21, 2012 01:38pm
Siraj, I am surprised by your lack of undertsanding of Pakistan law and order situation. you perhaps were not born in seventies. i grew up in those times and have seen head of state of not only pakistan but other states, car would pass by on the streets within feet away from common man. As a matter of fact, look at Obamas security protocol in US, it is as worst as it is here in Pakistan. At any cost you have to protect the head of institutions of your country, otherwise chaos and anarchy will prevail.
Gerry D'Cunha Sep 21, 2012 11:52am
pakistan cannot be compared to any civilized country. for 64 years matters in pakistan have gone from bad to worst and I don't blame Zardari for taking security steps - he should have choose shopping in dubai or london with no security threats.
Gautham Sep 21, 2012 01:47pm
I like this comment !
Rakesh Sep 20, 2012 04:55pm
And where the president's children study in government schools ;-)
mirza Sep 20, 2012 04:15pm
That too, but the main factor is the response of the ordinary person. In this country pf the Pure , nobody cares wheher the prices of food is increased because all the lands/factories are owned by the people in Power. Natural gas prices are increased to deter people from using a cleaner mode of fuel, who cares. Our rulers are like kings of the 10th century and people are docile. Roads are blocked because the the rulers consider this land as their fiefdom. hell with the docile people
amra ali Sep 20, 2012 04:24pm
'they' ARE the actual criminals!! you are living very dangerously mr.vaqar!!!
A. Khan Sep 20, 2012 05:46pm
G20 was a major event with many heads of state visiting Toronto. But author is generally correct in that traffic is not held up for VIP movement in Canada or even in UK for that matter.
Rao Sep 22, 2012 02:59am
By the what Zaradri bought from the supermarket,if someone could guess?
Vaqar Ahmed Sep 20, 2012 03:32pm
Well put! I remember meeting Rene Levesque the Premier of Quebec in a supermarket standing in a line to buy his grocery!! On another occasion a friend entered the elevator in his dentist's building to find a grinning Mr. Brian Mulroney the Canadian Prime Minister (he was always grinning somehow. Maybe because he was a crooked sort of a fellow involved in shady deals)!
vaqar001 Sep 20, 2012 03:37pm
I guess if I were a full time journalist I would have been in Toronto (I lived in Montreal)! But note though that in Canada just 2 persons have died in the past 50 years or more as a result of political violence!! Obviously, that is plain boring and so I have moved back to Pakistan.
Ali Sep 20, 2012 03:21pm
The writer never faces anything of the sorts in Canada for 25 years because there are no Taliban, SSP,L-E-J or for that matter countless other terrorist organizations out to get the Canadian President.
Rauf Sep 20, 2012 03:12pm
Really amazed....! We only care for an individual and leave the masses back to await their turn. This is not that Islam teaches us. Pakistan was not born to distinguish VIPs from Aam Admi (common people) and to let few people dominate the majority. The vision of Pakistan was based on the principles of Isam----which is equality, as every human is equal in the eyes Allah.
arif faqeerana Sep 20, 2012 06:56pm
Vaqar, aap ghalat keh gaye janab. VIPs are way too common. Kindly correct yourself and refer to President Zardari a VVIP.
Zahid Sep 22, 2012 04:24am
how pathetic...he can't go to supermarket without blocking the whole area. Scared!!!
Bilal Sep 20, 2012 07:05pm
Traffic was not held up for convoys however certain parts for the downtown were closed for G20. I think that is acceptable since leaders from 20 countries were there which is a total different situation than the President going shopping.
HI Sep 21, 2012 02:46pm
That made me laugh, although I really shouldn't be. It's honestly sad where his priorities lie. Delaying hundreds for his own amusement. I sincerely hope we never have to encounter another president like him ever again.
Saurabh Sep 21, 2012 09:47am
Imran, I guess Shankar missed a punctuation. His question probably was, "Why? Are there no Pakistanis in Canada?". Shanlar, please correct if my assumption is incorrect.
Maaz Sep 20, 2012 02:13pm
The reason why Canadians don't travel around with armed convoys and block roads is mainly because noone jumps infront of your car over there and blows up.
generalcuriosity Sep 21, 2012 12:37pm
Be glad the road was eventually cleared for traffic. Our dear president may jolly well erect masive walls around it, forbid entry to all public traffic, and install a police guard around at teh entrance. He has already practiced this on Khayaban-e-Saadi in front onf Bilalwal House.
Tausif Sep 20, 2012 02:28pm
Same kind of problems exist in Bangladesh but in a very lesser extent compared to that of Pakistan!
Maqboolfida (@Maqboolfida) Sep 20, 2012 02:16pm
A developed country is not where ordinary people travel by car, but one where public servants can travel by public transport!!
Rana Sep 20, 2012 09:06pm
what happened at G20 was not state sanctioned, nor was it to felicitate special supreme leaders....At worst, it was a one-off abuse of power by the Toronto police and nothing don't see these things happening as a daily occurrence in Toronto, Ottawa, Washington, London or any major world city, where entire traffic is blocked off to allow the leader to shop! ..the world is not an unsafe place, only Pakistan is which in turn makes the rest of the world unsafe because of the hatred spread by the people of this mad nation!
Shahzad Akhund Sep 22, 2012 12:07am
I agree. Apparently, Mr. Vaqar's Canada is the only country where traffic does not get stopped due to the presence of the Head of the State. I believe that a peaceful protest to show disgust and contempt of the film about the Holy Prophet is not only the right thing , it must be done. However, damaging the property of people who had nothing to do with the film is senseless and wrong.
Imran Sep 21, 2012 07:46am
You rock man! You stay in Canada
Asad Sep 20, 2012 10:28pm
My friend, for G20, leaders from all over the world came to Toronto. Offcourse they had to block everything. 3 years back, Stephen Harper came to Mississauga and I happened to be passing by the area. I did not see any heavy police presence except few RCMP officers and there was no traffic blockade either. And for this thief (Zardari), they had to block everything. God bless Pakistan.
Hyder Ali Sep 22, 2012 06:19am
Dear sir, Now a days wherever you live the general public is suffering due to incompetent leadership. Democracy's new mantra is fool the people, cheat the people and loot the people. Kind Regards, Hyder
Abdul Malik Sep 20, 2012 11:57pm
During the G20 conference, there were several clashes between the public and police but that was an exception case and not a trend, as it is in our Pakistan.
Silent Sep 21, 2012 07:11pm
East and west pakistan is the best!
asim Sep 21, 2012 12:09am
Zardari is shopping ever since he has been president.
shahid Sep 22, 2012 11:00am
Hyder Ali expressed his views about democracy which are facts belonging to the present govt.'s attitude. In future,we do hope for the better situation if democracy prevails.
Shaukat Sep 20, 2012 02:45pm
Mr. Part-time journalist seems like werent in Toronto at the time of G20 conference back in 2010 I believe traffic was hold up, innocent people were thrown into jails for protesting and what not...World has become an unsafe place and our men in power are more scared then people who are actually running the show behind curtains
Sure Kant Sep 22, 2012 01:55am
Did not know Zardari was an ordinary human being who also went shopping just like me. The policemen have to their duty, no blaming them.
Jawwad Sep 21, 2012 02:53am
There is no need to criticize since this is usual protocol of him being the President. For US President to be out on the street, roads and walkways are often blocked in all directions for extended period of time. Though, Public get a chance to wave at the man they voted for unlike our larger than life figures living on western donations. You could argue Zardari being aware of deficiencies in our road network at least should know better and avoid meaningless burden to public. Now, who wants to bet he does not give a hoot?
Aamir Sep 20, 2012 08:03pm
Funny how ONLY Zardari gets targeted. I mean NO ONE else does this except Zardari or maybe Gilani. Am sick of you so called journalists
Shankar Bandyopadhay Sep 20, 2012 03:57pm
Why are there no Pakistanis in Canada ?
Saeed Sep 21, 2012 09:34pm
Several time I held back at I90 highway For hours in Chicago due to USA vice president travelling from Ohare airport to chicago . Thing are same everywhere But there is never religious rally in Canada and USA as far I remember .Please Write something about it.
sharif Sep 20, 2012 09:37pm
Spare the developed countries here in zambia i have not seen any such thing.
paki Sep 21, 2012 03:33am
I think your comment needs some qualification - road blocks during the G20 riots in Toronto were caused by the people - not their rulers - even during that time , state capacity was intact and helpful detours were also set up for both pedestrians and traffic -
malik Sep 21, 2012 03:37am
Any idea on his shopping list?
KJU Sep 21, 2012 04:23pm
Nothing stops the President from shopping in Dubai. He should have gone there, and left this plundered country to the poor masses.
Siraj Sep 21, 2012 04:32am
Mr Shaukat with due respect U r missing the point raised by this man. I agree with him, these rulers become problem for public - Such security is not needed in Britain for the Prime minister and Queen rather I personally have seen them casually travelling in Public trtains with only one or two body guards.
Siraj Sep 21, 2012 04:39am
Dear MR Waqar I appreciate your point,, I have been living in UK for last seven years and no such non-sence rather Britain Prime minister just joined the crowed on the roads to see the Atheletes,,, at one occasion he was in a public underground train with no such heavy armed police ,, protocols and etc etc. But it is not fault of pakistani president or Primie minister ,, rather their securityAdvisors who tell them that if they will not keep huge security they will not be considered important and may be attacked.
Azfar Sep 21, 2012 04:45am
Once again..I like the way you capture a "not so common" men. Great shots Vaqar Sahib! Somehow there is something in the expressions of these folks that expats like me still feel a connection after so many years. Cannot describe that. As some SAYANA had said "a picture is worth a thousand words". AZFAR. Dallas.