Apr 302008

By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf’s desire to see the imported foreign wheat land thousands of miles away at the Gwadar Port is said to have greatly contributed to the flour crisis in the country as it delayed transportation of the multi-million dollar consignment from the remote area of Balochistan to the wheat shortage areas of the Punjab and other parts of the country.

The new port still lacks the required facilities to swiftly unload the consignment, as the ship was docked at a considerable distance from the port, which not only caused delay but also increased the cost of transportation.

Top-level sources claimed that 80,000 tonnes of wheat was imported through Gwadar on President Musharraf’s instructions to see how effective it would be to use the port for regular import of commodities.

Sources said another reason behind the import of wheat through Gwadar was that the wheat import was costing $10 less per tonne as compared to Karachi. But, sources said, this adventure cost heavily as when the wheat reached the port, it became a big problem to make immediate arrangements to transport it to the areas hit by wheat shortage.

When contacted by The News, an official of the Agriculture Ministry confirmed that 80,000 tonnes of wheat was imported through Gwadar on President Musharraf’s instructions that the government must check the arrangements at the port.

However, talking to The News, the president’s spokesman said he had no idea whether or not Musharraf had ever expressed the desire to import wheat through Gwadar Port.

Meanwhile, sources said this was not the first time that President Musharraf had played a role in the export or import of wheat, which led to serious crisis in the country. Previously, Shaukat Aziz had taken a proposal to Musharraf to export 500,000 tonnes of wheat after he gave him fake figures about wheat production last year. The wheat production was short by two million tonnes but Shaukat Aziz allegedly managed to fudge the figures to show fake growth rate. Having full faith in the “wisdom” and information of his handpicked prime minister, Musharraf approved the export of wheat. It was exported at very cheap rate of $200 per tonne.

When the caretaker set up was installed, it emerged that the country did not have enough wheat to meet its own requirements. As a result, 1.7 million tonnes of wheat worth Rs60 billion was purchased from the farmers of Russia, Canada and America. The wheat, which was exported at $200 per tonne, was later imported at the rate of $500 per tonne
Source: The News, 30/4/2008
Concerning the club of former Pakistani prime ministers
By Kaleem Omar
KARACHI: Britain has its wonderfully named Society for the Restoration of the American Colonies, whose members – doddering old Empire hands one and all – meet once a year for dinner at the Guildhall in London, where they make fiery speeches demanding that the United States of America be handed back to Britain.

But what we, in this country, have is a sort of Club of Former Pakistani Prime Ministers, with their “Yes, Those Were the Days” thesis.

Shaukat Aziz is the newest member of this club. What is puzzling, though, is that nobody seems to know for sure where he is: London, New York, or where?

Before Shaukat Aziz joined the CFPPM (Club of Former Pakistani Prime Ministers), Choudhry Shujaat Hussain was its newest member. Before Mr Hussain, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was its newest member.

Mr Hussain’s tenure lasted 62 days, from June 28 to August 28, 2004. But he doesn’t hold the record for the shortest term as prime minister. That record belongs to Sardar Balakh Sher Mazari, who was caretaker prime minister for only 41 days, from April 20, 1993 to May 30, 2003.

Mr Mazari was appointed caretaker prime minister by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan after he sacked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on April 19, 1993. That was the second time that President Khan had used Article 58 (2) (b) of the Constitution to sack an elected prime minister, having earlier sacked Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, on August 5, 1990.

Article 58 (2) (b) was added to the Constitution as part of the 8th Amendment, which was adopted by Parliament in December 1985 at General Zia-ul-Haq’s insistence. President Zia had made it clear to the members of the then Parliament (elected in the non-party general election of March 1985) that he would not lift martial law from the country unless the 8th Amendment was passed.

Faced with that prospect, Parliament (to nobodyيs surprise) caved in and adopted the 8th Amendment with a two-thirds majority. Martial law was lifted a few days later, on December 31, 1985.

The 8th Amendment armed the president with draconian powers – which, among other things, allowed him to sack the prime minister, dissolve the National Assembly and provincial assemblies and appoint a caretaker prime minister to run the government of the country for a period of 90 days until fresh general elections were held.

Under the Constitution (Eighth Amendment) Act of 1988, clause (3) of Article 41 of the Constitution was replaced by a new clause by which the president, who was formerly to be elected by the members of Parliament (the Senate and the National Assembly) in a joint sitting in accordance with the provisions of the Second Schedule, was now required to be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament and the members of the four provincial assemblies.

The incorporation of Article 58 (2) (b) into the Constitution allowing the president to dissolve the National Assembly and provincial assembles meant that the president could, in effect, sack his own electorate.

Article 58 (2) (b)’s first victim was Prime Minister Mohammed Khan Junejo, President Zia’s own handpicked nominee for the job. Zia sacked him on May 29, 1988, and dissolved Parliament and the provincial assemblies under Articles 58 (2) (b) and 112 (2) (b) of the Constitution.

The dissolution was declared illegal by the Supreme Court in the case “Federation of Pakistan v. Muhammad Saifullah Khan”, but was allowed to stand and new general elections were held to elect a new Parliament and provincial assemblies on November 16, 1988 and November 19, 1988, respectively.

When Mr Junejo was sacked, it was said by some that he had “stumbled into history and stumbled out of it”.

To his credit, however, Mr Junejo had stood up to President Zia on several issues during his term as prime minister, including on the issue of the signing of the Geneva Accords to end the fighting in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Zia didn’t want Pakistan to sign the accords until after the Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan but Mr Junejo instructed his minister of state for foreign affairs to sign them anyway.

Zia was furious, but bided his time before moving against Junejo. That time came soon after the Ojhri Camp blasts of April 1988. The government ordered an inquiry into the blasts. Junejo made a statement in the National Assembly promising to place the findings of the inquiry before the House. That was the last straw as far as Zia was concerned, and Mr Junejo was sacked a few days later.

After Zia’s death in a mysterious plane crash in August 1988, Senate Chairman Ghulam Ishaq Khan became acting president, as provided for in the Constitution. The general election of October 1988 brought the PPP’s Benazir Bhutto to power as Pakistan’s first woman prime minister and Mr Khan was elected president a few months later.Only 20 months later, however, President Khan sacked her government on corruption charges, and appointed Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi caretaker prime minister.

Mr Jatoi had long been known in some circles as Pakistan’s “permanent prime minister-in-waiting.” But now he had actually got the job, even if it was only as caretaker prime minister.

The Pakistan Muslim League (N) won the November 1990 general election and Zia’s former protege Nawaz Sharif became prime minister.

By March 1993, however, Mr Sharif had fallen out with President Khan over a variety of issues that had been building up for over a year. Ishaq Khan sacked him on April 19, 1993, and appointed Balakh Sher Mazari as caretaker prime minister.

Mr Sharif, however, refused to take his sacking lying down and challenged it in the Supreme Court. On May 30, 1993, in a landmark ruling, the Court held that Mr Sharif’s sacking was illegal and restored his government to office.

There was jubilation in the Sharif camp, but their joy turned out to be short-lived. On July 18, 1993, less than two months after the PML(N) government was restored to office, Mr Sharif had to resign under pressure from the military establishment. Mr Sharifيs only consolation was that President Ishaq Khan, too, was forced to resign. That brought in Senate Chairman Waseem Sajjad as acting president and Moeen Qureshi as caretaker prime minister.

Mr Qureshi turned out to be Pakistan’s most controversial caretaker prime minister, acting as if he had a mandate to reform the machinery of governance. In fact, the only mandate he had as caretaker PM was to run the day-to-day affairs of the government for a period of three months until fresh general elections were held and a new elected government took office.

The October 1993 general election brought Benazir Bhutto back to power. After she took office as prime minister, she used her party’s voting strength in the National Assembly and two of the four provincial assemblies to get the PPP’s Farooq Leghari elected president. With her own party-man Leghari installed as president, Mr Bhuttpo thought her government was now safe from dismissal.

But her second term in office proved even more controversial than the first, with allegations of bad governance flying thick and fast. Those allegations, combined with several other factors, led President Leghari to sack the Benazir government on November 6, 1996 and appoint Malik Meraj Khalid as caretaker prime minister.

But Mr Khalid, a mild-mannered, unassertive person, was caretaker prime minister in name only, with President Leghari himself calling the shots.

The general election of February 1997 saw Nawaz Sharifيs party sweeping back into power with such a huge majority that the result was immediately questioned by the PPP.

One of the first things Mr Sharif did during his second term was to orchestrate the scrapping of Article 58 (2) (b) through another Amendment to the Constitution – an exercise in which his party was joined by all the other political parties in the National Assembly and Senate.

With Article 58 (2) (b) out of the way, Mr Sharif thought his position was unassailable and that nobody could now remove him from office.

During his first term as prime minister, Mr Sharif had fallen out with three successive army chiefs: first, with General Mirza Aslam Beg over the 1991 Gulf War issue; then, with General Asif Nawaz over the Sindh “Operation Clean-Up” issue; and then with General Waheed Kakar over the Sharif-Ishaq imbroglio.

At the end of General Waheed’s three-year term in January 1996, General Jehangir Karamat was appointed army chief. His term was due to end on January 9, 1999. In October 1998, however, true to form, Sharif fell out with General Karamat as well, over the latter’s advocacy of the need to create a National Security Council.

In October 1998 General Karamat resigned and Mr Sharif appointed General Pervez Musharraf as army chief. The rest, as they say, is history.
Courtesy: The News, 30/4/2008

 Posted by at 12:43 pm

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