Posts Tagged ‘ruling coalition’

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.

The Impeachment of Musharraf, Then What?

August 17, 2008

By FATIMA BHUTTO | Counterpunch, August 16 / 17, 2008

The murky abyss of Pakistani politics has been especially murky over recent months, and true to form it just keeps getting murkier. The one thing that is absolute when dealing with the dregs that run my country is this: nothing is ever as it seems. Nowhere is that more true than in the current scenario involving President Musharraf’s likely impeachment by the ruling coalition.

“It has become imperative to move for impeachment,” barked Benazir Bhutto’s widower, Asif Zardari, at a press conference in Islamabad last week. Sitting beside the new head of the Pakistan People’s party was Nawaz Sharif, twice formerly prime minister of Pakistan. Zardari snarled every time Musharraf’s name came up, seething with political rage and righteousness, while Sharif did his best to keep up with the pace of things. He nodded sombrely and harrumphed every once in a while. The two men are acting for democracy, you see. And impeaching dictators is a good thing for democracies, you know.

But Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari are unelected. They’re not just unrepresentative in that they don’t hold seats in the parliament – they have absolutely no mandate in Pakistan. They head the two largest, and most corrupt, parties in the state but hold no public office. Pots and kettles.

The rest of the coterie that wields power behind this administration, the attorney general and the interior minister for instance, also happen to be unelected. They serve, and I use the term ever so lightly, by appointment only. Some 170 million Pakistanis have lived under military rule of law for nine years. Musharraf stepping down from his army post has not changed that. Neither did the recent selections. Sorry, I meant elections, obviously.

The current administration – a party coalition comprising two formerly mortal enemies, the PPP and the PML – has enjoyed five months in office. And what has this thriving democratic union accomplished? It passed the National Reconciliation Ordinance, an odious piece of legislation that wipes out 15 years’ worth of corruption cases against politicians, suspiciously covering 11 years of PPP and PML rule. Bankers and bureaucrats were also given the all-clear. Worse still, the ordinance contains a clause that makes it virtually impossible for future charges to be filed against sitting parliamentarians.

But they must have done more than that, surely? Well, all that really changed is that food inflation has accelerated, oil subsidies have been cut, gas prices have doubled, and those pesky militants in the Swat district the tribal regions have turned up the fighting. Several days before the decision to impeach Musharraf hurtled through the airwaves, a small story came in from the tribal areas: the militants are close, the story said, they’ve vowed to target the government, even to the point of attacking state schools. This is a civil war, the story said.

So what does the government do when its country appears to be tearing apart at the seams? Go on the attack. Impeach the tyrant. “The period of oppression is over for ever,” declared the prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, at an event marking 61 years of Pakistani independence yesterday. “Dictatorship has become a story of the past.” Deny everything. Nothing is wrong, democracy is good and we hate dictators. Well done.

Pakistan is a sovereign country. We are a proud, resourceful, independent nation. We have options. Zardari is not an option. Sharif is not an option. The army is not our one and only option. The mullahs have not become an option yet. There are close to 200 million of us: I’m sure we can think of something better.

Fatima Bhutto is a poet and a columnist for the News in Pakistan


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