CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

June 8, 2008

President’s press talk (EDITORIAL)

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 6:52 pm
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THE NATION

JUNE 08, 2008

EDITORIAL

President Musharraf met senior journalists of the electronic media at Islamabad on Saturday after a prolonged gap of about three months and answered questions on different issues of relevance to the current political and economic situation in the country, issues that have gripped the minds of both political leaders and the public and continued to generate the demand that he leave his office. He said certain things that the people wanted to hear like his firm belief not to use 58-2(b) to dismiss the Parliament since “I am not mentally unstable” to think of aggravating the stormy climate Pakistan was weathering at present; his commitment to abide by every decision of the Parliament that he called “supreme”; and the renewal of his support to the Prime Minister and his government. Interestingly, like Mr Zardari he left the decision to restore the judges to the Parliament, knowing full well that it was not in a position to do that. Similarly to the question of impeachment, he simply replied that the Constitution had laid down the required procedure. And taking shelter behind the country’s worsening situation, he maintained, he would not resign and dismissed as baseless rumours to that effect. At least about the flurry of reports of his ‘impending’ resignation and departure from Pakistan aboard ‘a plane that had already landed at Islamabad’, he was not wrong. That should serve to remind the journalist community that the fundamental logic behind the freedom of press was responsible and credible reporting and not kite flying.
But at the same time, he was extremely averse to being rendered a “useless vegetable” when questioned whether he would be content with being devoid of powers (as the constitutional package proposed). He refused to elaborate further. Refuting the suggestion in a section of the media that the presidency was engaged in hatching a conspiracy against the current democratic set-up, he averred that he was firmly in favour of ‘reconciliation, not confrontation’. No doubt, reconciliation is a highly plausible formula to calm down the frayed public sentiments when the situation is threatening to go out of hand, but having become overwhelmingly unpopular among the people he could easily defuse the tension by acceding to the demand for him to quit. He pointed to the phenomenon of agitational politics, the situation in Balochistan, terrorism and the miserable state of economy as potent threats to the country that should be squarely addressed.
Notwithstanding the President’s defence of economic performance during his stewardship by citing the high ratings it received from the international business community, the oversight of the need for basic infrastructural projects that has proved to be a major contributing factor to the current crisis in this sphere is not easily excusable. He rightly drew attention, though, to the stalling of water projects, citing particularly Kalabagh dam, to generate cheap power and store water going waste to the sea. One would have wished that while he had been the arbiter for eight years, he had built the reservoir.

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