CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

March 20, 2008

The second verdict (AGAINST Musharraf)

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 2:56 pm
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DAWN

MARCH 20, 2008

EDITORIAL



THE thumping majority with which the National Assembly has elected Dr Fehmida Mirza and Barrister Faisal Karim Kundi of the PPP as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively, comes as the second anti-establishment verdict in just over a month. Dr Mirza�s election as the first-ever Muslim woman speaker of a legislature anywhere is particularly welcome. The PPP-led coalition has shown that it commands the confidence of the House by an over two-third majority despite the delaying tactics applied in summoning the NA: over a month has passed since the election but new governments have yet to take office at the Centre and in the provinces. Provincial legislatures are yet to be convened, even though the same winning forces are poised to form governments in all the four federating units.

As the Constitution stands since 1990, it is not for the president to invite the person who he thinks commands the confidence of the NA to form a government. The PPP�s not naming its candidate for the premiership cannot be made an excuse for delaying the calling of the NA to elect a prime minister. The session should be called for the purpose without further ado. If the reason for delay is the unfolding reality that President Musharraf is rather isolated now and that the Senate is the only elected forum, where he does not fear a majority of his rivals, it is ill-advised. The speakers� election should help the president see for himself the writing on the wall. If he still wishes to tarry with the summoning of the NA to elect a PM or delay calling to session the provincial assemblies, then heavens alone help him. Any sound counsel going out to President Musharraf in the wee hours of what has been his absolute grip on power for the last eight years must entail that he take serious stock of the situation. Delaying transfer of power on whatever pretext can cast further aspersions on his role and distract from the credit for holding free and fair elections.

These are critical times; but, certainly, there is life beyond the Musharraf presidency. Internal and external security concerns and the unfinished business of the judiciary beckon the next government. The economy, too, is crying out for help, as the power crisis deepens and inflation takes a crushing toll on people�s budget. These are no small challenges. The sooner the process of transfer of power to the elected representatives is completed the better. Let it not be said that procrastination on the part of a slighted president, as indeed his advisers who have brought him no good counsel all these years, is aimed at creating more mischief. The people have spoken; now their will must prevail without any further delay.

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