May 23, 2008

Musharraf relic of the past: Asif

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MAY 23, 2008

By Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD, May 22: Pakistan People�s Party (PPP) on Thursday launched a tirade against President Pervez Musharraf with party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari declaring him a stumbling block in the way of smooth-sailing towards democracy and a party spokesman announcing that they will clip the presidential powers, come what may.

Reacting to reports in media that President Musharraf might react strongly if the coalition government tried his powers or made an attempt to impeach him through a proposed constitutional package, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Asif Zardari was keen on winning and retaining the trust and confidence of the people of Pakistan, and not of any individual.

Mr Zardari, in an interview with Press Trust of India news agency, admitted that he was under tremendous pressure to oust President Musharraf from his office. The public, Mr Zardari said, was telling the PPP that �we don�t want bread, we don�t want electricity, but we want him (Mr Musharraf) out.�

Earlier, Mr Zardari had been criticising the president in vague terms, and it was for the first time since the Feb 18 general elections that he openly hit out at Gen (retd) Musharraf. Political experts believe that Mr Zardari has taken this new stance after realising that the graph of his party�s popularity is sliding down due to a general perception that the PPP has reached an underhand deal with the president on certain issues, particularly on the issue of reinstatement of the deposed judges. They believe that this apparent shift in Mr Zardari�s stance will help him clarify his position and improve his image in the eyes of the general public.

Mr Zardari told the PTI that President Musharraf was a �relic of the past� standing between the people of Pakistan and democracy and there was tremendous pressure on the new government to ensure his ouster. He said that although Musharraf still held considerable powers, the PPP-led coalition had to abide by the wishes of the people who wanted the military ruler to leave his post.

�He (Musharraf) has taken off his uniform thanks to the dialogue by my wife (Benazir Bhutto) and the world pressure,� Mr Zardari said, adding: �But that doesn�t make him (Musharraf) into a democrat or a civilian president. That doesn�t mean that his presidency is legal. I have a tremendous amount of pressure from the people of Pakistan.�

Mr Zardari said that the PPP was working to �come up with a live-able formula� for ushering in full-fledged democracy because �after all that has happened, you cannot have an unelected and non-democratic president�.

The PPP co-chairman also admitted that the people did not like his policy of national reconciliation. �For two months, I have been trying to do a whitewash or whatever you may call it to dialogue with the people of Pakistan and my party. That okay, let�s have national reconciliation, but people are not willing to accept my position on that,� he said.

Mr Zardari said the �bottom-line� of all this was that the people wanted Musharraf to go. �And I am the servant of the people, not the master of the people.�

In a statement issued on Thursday, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar expressed the party�s determination to �correct the imbalance of power between the Presidency and the Parliament House in accordance with the Charter of Democracy and recognised democratic principles, no matter whether it pleased or annoyed anyone.�

Mr Babar was of the view that through deliberate media leaks some vested interests were seeking to browbeat the political parties into submission and dissuade them from restoring parliament�s supremacy through appropriate constitutional amendments. These vested interests were doomed to be frustrated in their designs to pressurise the coalition government into giving up the proposed constitutional changes to make the parliament genuinely supreme, the PPP spokesperson said.


April 29, 2008

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APRIL 29, 2008

April 28, 2008

Pakistan Is at an Impasse Over Reinstating Judges

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Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, April 27, 2008; Page A17

ISLAMABAD, April 26 — After weeks of deliberation, Pakistan’s newly formed coalition government appears to have reached an impasse over its month-old promise to reinstate dozens of judges fired last year by President Pervez Musharraf.

Restoration of the judiciary has been a key issue since November, when Musharraf dismissed about 60 judges and placed several prominent judges and lawyers under house arrest to head off potential legal challenges to his rule. The move prompted protests across the country, and the judges’ reinstatement became a rallying cry of the two leading opposition parties, which were swept into power in February parliamentary elections.

Shortly after the vote, the leaders of the two parties vowed to return the judges to the bench in a public declaration viewed by many here as a direct challenge to Musharraf. Known as the Murree Declaration, the agreement called for Parliament to pass a resolution reinstating all the judges within 30 days of the new government’s swearing-in.

But the coalition government suspended its first parliamentary session Friday. With an April 30 deadline looming for a decision on the judges, Parliament will have to reconvene for a special session while debate on the issue continues between the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N faction, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

The National Assembly is widely expected to call for an extension of its session to resolve the judiciary dispute this week.

Despite differences over how to go about reinstating the judges, Sharif and Zardari remained publicly optimistic that a decision was imminent.

“There is a consensus on the restoration of the judges,” Sharif told reporters Saturday in Islamabad, the capital. “As per the agreement of the Murree Declaration, I think it will be possible.”

At issue are the fine points of a package of constitutional changes that would not only strip the president of several powers, including the authority to dissolve Parliament, but also reinstate Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. The justice, a fierce critic of the Musharraf military government, was suspended in March 2007 but reinstated by the Supreme Court in July. He was fired and placed under house arrest on Nov. 3 after Musharraf declared emergency rule. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani released Chaudhry from house arrest the day he took office in March.

Chaudhry’s term is set to end in 2013, but Parliament is debating whether the resolution on the judges should shorten the terms of high court justices, which could effectively lead to an earlier retirement.

Chaudhry’s ouster sparked a constitutional crisis that transformed the chief justice into a folk hero and thrust the political parties that supported his reinstatement into the center of power. The conflict over the judges provoked strong responses from thousands of lawyers, who have repeatedly clashed with police during protests across Pakistan in the past year.

“Out there, people are very emotional about this issue, and if they think they can get away with not reinstating the chief justice, they are mistaken,” said Athar Minallah, a leading activist in the lawyers’ movement in Islamabad. “It would be very difficult for them to go against that will. If they want to eliminate Iftikhar Chaudhry, that would be a disaster for them. There are other judges, but people believe that this issue is related to him. They don’t even know the names of the other judges.”

Governments around the world have called for Chaudhry’s reinstatement. But the White House, a longtime supporter of Musharraf, has demurred, saying that restoration of the judiciary is an “internal matter” that must be decided by Pakistan’s government. That stance has prompted strong criticism from many in Pakistan, including Chaudhry’s attorney and president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan.

“The Americans want Chaudhry out despite the fact that Pervez Musharraf is the most hated man in Pakistan and Chaudhry is arguably the most popular man in Pakistan,” Ahsan said in an interview Saturday. “American policy is still one-man specific. Unfortunately, they maintain only one number in Pakistan, and unfortunately they have the wrong number.”

April 27, 2008

Noughts and crosses (JUDGES RESTORATION)

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APRIL 26, 2008

THE issue of judges’ restoration has virtually turned into a Gordian knot and there seems a deficit of will and courage on the part of certain sections of the new leadership to cut through it. It is sad to learn that even the latest round of talks between the PML(N) and the PPP have failed to bear any fruit. It would not be out of place to call these sessions mere debating-club sessions, as up until now they have not only failed to yield any result but also promise little for the future as well.

The present scenario is however poles apart from the earlier unanimity of thought and points to the seriousness of the stalemate. The PPP, it seems, is fast veering off from the commitment it made in the Murree Accord to the PML(N), which has remained steadfast on the matter and vowed to break ranks with the coalition and quit ministries in case the Accord is not implemented. Not to mince words, from the position it has adopted so far, the PPP equates the restoration of the judiciary to putting its head in a noose. It is for this reason that it has placed certain conditions in the proposed constitutional package and made it clear that it will not restore the judges until the PML(N) agrees to them. The PML(N) however has rightly refused to countenance such an arrangement, saying it would amount to deceiving the public. Reportedly, among others, the focus of the PPP’s proposed package is to turn Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry into a toothless lion. Measures like cutting down his tenure, which would hardly give the Chief Justice a year in office, are being cooked up. There is also a suggestion to clip his power to form the benches of the Supreme Court for the hearing of cases. In the same vein, a safety valve is being thought out which might restrict the Chief Justice’s authority to take suo moto actions. Apart from the Chief Justice issue, there are other judges as well against whom the PPP has serious reservations. If one recalls the aftermath of the February 18 elections, it appears as if the issue would have taken a few days to resolve. The impression that there was no stumbling block in the way of a successful conclusion was likewise optimistic. That said, it would be a sad day, when the parties break their words. The question of a free judiciary no doubt forms a fairly large part of the mandate accorded to the parties in the February 18 elections. The parties, particularly the PPP, would have to gird their loins and end the piecemeal approach they have adopted so far as any back. Backpedaling on the issue would only mean, losing the electorate’s support.


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APRIL 26, 2008


IT was an interesting spectacle to see PML(N) ministers share a table with the President at the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani for formation commanders and services chiefs at a time when Mian Nawaz Sharif was telling VOA that General Musharraf didn’t fit in the democratic set-up. “The nation will barely register the change of government as long as Musharraf remains in power,” he said, putting a new spin on his stance that democracy and dictatorship could not co-exist. Mr Gillani meanwhile called for a new and balanced relationship between the civil and military institutions of the state.

The Prime Minister praised Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for his call regarding strict adherence to safeguard the Constitution. But he should have elaborated what he actually meant when he felicitated the armed forces for their contribution to the democratic transition as well as their “judicious” and “prudent” approach to the unfolding political realities. There is no doubt that the political leadership had the unsavoury reputation of seeking the army’s intervention to dislodge their opponents from power. It was unfortunate that political parties in the opposition always welcomed military takeovers in the past instead of discouraging the Bonapartists who got used to dismantling the democratic process and holding the nation over a barrel. The politicians cannot escape the blame for exhibiting a dictatorial mindset while in power. Pakistan has seen such democratic rulers who got so intoxicated by the ‘heavy mandate’ that they started emasculating the powers of other state institutions. It was not just the opposition legislators who were subjected to political victimisation or pressurised to switch over to the government. But coercive legislation was bulldozed through Parliament to unseat the treasury members holding dissenting opinions. A democratic polity however does not give the army generals the right to overthrow elected governments when they so desire.

Mr Gillani did well by reminding the formation commanders that the Pakistan Army had a unique and delicate responsibility of defending the country’s geographical as well as its ideological boundaries. A balanced relationship between the military and civil authorities can only be established if all the state institutions are allowed to function within the constitutional framework. The PM rightly appreciated General Kayani’s decision to recall military personnel serving against the positions meant for civilians. This will certainly go a long way towards restoring the image of the Army that was badly tarnished during General Musharraf’s eight-year rule. A message that must reach the political parties across the spectrum is to avoid seeking the Army’s help in future to dislodge each other from power.

April 26, 2008

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APRIL 26, 2008



APRIL 26, 2008


Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008,Uncategorized — civilsocietypakistan @ 1:06 am
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Just look at their dresses and imagine the sumptuous food that they consumed on April 24, 2008 at a glamorous dinner and music programme. These types are also called elite of Pakistan. In normal circumstances they would be ignored and left to their own fate. But, this happened when the people of Pakistan are standing in long lines under the hot sun and rising temperatures, to get ATTA (flour), so that they and their children can live for another day. These people were enjoying the coolness of the Prime Minister house, lighted by expensive imported generators while the people of Pakistan suffered under the darkness, caused by prolonged load shedding.

Just imagine, this Prime Minister was jailed by the man on the left for more than 5 years on corruption charges. But, now both are least concerned about anything but taking full advantage of their huge perks and privileges. The Prime Minister should not call a conspiracy when people protest against the prolonged load shedding in his city of Multan.

Mr. Prime Minister, mend your ways. Do not flirt with this currupt establishment. People voted for you and your party for some other purpose. It was the hatred of General (Retired) Musharraf that people gave you a huge mandate. Do not set aside their mandate, so soon!!!!!

April 9, 2008

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008,Uncategorized — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:33 am

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008,Uncategorized — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:52 am


APRIL 09, 2008

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