CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

May 29, 2008

Coup de grace

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:36 am
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THE NATION

MAY 29, 2008

EDITORIAL

THE long awaited meeting between Mr Asif Ali Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif – the first after the PML (N) pulled out of the federal cabinet – has finally taken place. That the parleys have ended on a positive note indicates a melting of ice between the two coalition partners. PML (N) spokesman Siddiqul Farooq has said his party’s Ministers might be back to their Ministries once the differences over the restoration of judges are resolved. Presumably some sort of understanding has been reached on the issue. An earlier report indicated that the PML (N) had finally agreed to a reduced tenure of the CJ in case it was enhanced to five years instead of three contained in the proposed package of constitutional reforms. The PPP seems to be agreeable. Thus an early restoration of the judges cannot be ruled out.
Mian Nawaz has reportedly agreed on the provisions of the package aimed at enhancing the powers of the Prime Minister and cutting down the President to his size. There is also unanimity of views between the two sides on striking down the 58(2b). If the President was to block the passage of the package, the two sides would jointly go for his impeachment. Mr Zaradri has already called on the President to resign voluntarily to avoid a fight he has no chance of winning in view of the required majority, which the coalition commands. The only difference between the two sides is about the timing of the coup de grace, with the PPP Co-Chairman keen to make full prior preparation to ensure foolproof success and the PML (N) leader pressing to go ahead without wasting any more time. Once the judges are restored the coalition retains another option of removing the President, should the other attempt fail.
With both the PPP and the PML (N) agreeing on the crucial issue of the removal of the President and an early restoration of the deposed judges, there is little sense in the PML (N) remaining out of the federal cabinet. Its departure has led to its Ministers’ portfolios to be temporarily handed over to the PPP Ministers, which has overburdened them. This not only adversely affects the government performance but also creates hurdles in interacting with international agencies. There is a dire need on the part of coalition partners to pool their manpower resources to deal with the economic and social challenges facing the country. The PML (N) Ministers would do well to take up their former responsibilities before the budget is presented.

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