Posts Tagged ‘restoring the judges’

Pakistan: From crisis to crisis

August 27, 2008

Editorial

The Khaleej Times, August 26, 2008

THE more things change in Pakistan, the more they seem to remain the same. It was only six months ago that the people of the South Asian country celebrated when the outcome of February 18 polls brought the two leading parties and bitter rivals together in an unprecedented coalition.

Those polls, conducted in most trying circumstances and the unusual alliance that they created, were seen as a triumph of democracy. That historic alliance is now in tatters, two weeks before the crucial presidential election.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League (N), has finally walked out of the governing coalition with the Pakistan Peoples Party of Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former PM Benazir Bhutto and a contender for the top job now. Sharif’s party has also decided to field Saaeduz Zaman, a former supreme court chief justice, as its own presidential candidate. It must be the shortest political honeymoon ever. So what was seen as a ground breaking alliance was little more than a marriage of convenience!

To be fair to Sharif and his party, the former prime minister gave the government and coalition partner Zardari a long, long rope and at least three deadlines to restore the Supreme Court and high court judges sacked by General Pervez Musharraf following the imposition of Emergency. In spite of numerous meetings and agreements between Sharif and Zardari, there has been no move or initiative by the government and the governing PPP to resolve the judges issue. After all these encounters, Zardari and Sharif appeared together before the media to reiterate their commitment to the restoration of judiciary, democracy and the rule of law.

In fact, the coalition promised to restore the judges within 24 hours of Musharraf’s exit, implying the General was the only hurdle to the restoration of judiciary. It’s been more than a week since Musharraf left the presidency. But Pakistan remains stuck where it had been before the General’s departure with the ruling party offering no signs or hopes of any progress.

What happens now? The government led by the PPP is likely to survive with the support of other minor players like MQM, ANP and JUI. However, with Sharif in opposition and the issue of restoration of judges still hanging fire, the prospects of the current dispensation continuing for long appear rather remote. And yet another general election with a realignment of forces looks imminent in not too distant a future. When that happens, Pakistan’s leaders and politicians will be held to account by the voters. As Benazir Bhutto, the late wife of Zardari, would say: Democracy is the best revenge. That will be especially true when the politicians go back to the voters.

Pakistan coalition faces collapse

August 24, 2008
Al Jazeera, August 24. 2008

Zardari, right, has confirmed that he will stand for Pakistan’s presidency [AFP]

Pakistan’s coalition government is looking increasingly shaky after an aide to Nawaz Sharif, leader of one party in the goverment, said his PML-N party was inclined to pull out.

Pervez Rasheed, a close aide of the former prime minister, said that the party’s leaders would meet on Monday to decide whether to join the opposition amid growing differences with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

“General opinion in the party is in favour of parting ways,” Rasheed told The Associated Press news agency on Sunday.

Sharif has demanded that the PPP agree to reinstate the 60 judges sacked by Pervez Musharraf, the former president who quit last week, by Monday in order to remain united for presidential elections to be held on September 6.

But the PPP under Asif Ali Zardari – who confirmed on Saturday that he would bid to replace Musharraf – has been stalling on the issue.

Sharif demands

Sharif has been asked to support Zardari’s nomination but has made this conditional on the return of the judges and the PPP leader agreeing to limit the powers of the presidency.

He says that Zardari has reneged on a written agreement to restore the judges within 24 hours of Musharraf’s decision on August 18 to quit rather than face impeachment charges.

Siddiqul Farooq, a spokesman for the PML-N said that the issue of whether Zardari would stand for the presidency was the PPP’s “own decision,” not that of the coalition partners, but reiterated his leader’s demands.

“We do not want a civilian president with the same powers that Musharraf had, mainly the power to dissolve parliament,” Farooq said.

“Our top priority is restoration of the judges and we want it done on Monday.”

Analysts say the PPP is reluctant to restore the judges because of concerns the deposed chief justice might take up challenges to an amnesty from corruption charges last year granted to Zardari and other party leaders.

Presidential contest

In a sign that relations between the two sides were becoming increasing fractured, another of Shraif’s aides on Saturday offered to stand for the presidency in opposition of Zardari.

“I am also willing to contest the presidential election, but I am bound to obey what the party decides,” Javed Hashmi, one of Sharif’s most senior aides, said.

Kanwar Dilshad, the election commission secretary, said nomination papers for the presidency can be filed from August 26, with the final date for any withdrawals on August 30.

Under Pakistan’s constitution, a president is elected by members of the country’s four provincial assemblies and the national parliament within 30 days of the post becoming vacant.

The political deadlock is making it increasing difficult for the government to tackle economic problems in the country, unrest in the tribal areas and the growing strength of armed pro-Taliban groups.


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