May 042008

By Mayed Ali

The coalition’s May 12 plan for the restoration of judiciary is the definitive validation of President Pervez Musharraf’s election to the incumbent office by the previous government.
If things go as envisaged after the successful dialogue between the coalition partners, with the restoration of deposed judges will get restored the future of President Musharraf atop the hill for another five years unless impeached. That is, if the sitting government ever dares to think about it and ensures favourable configuration before or after March 2009.

Former PM Nawaz Sharif has finally succumbed to Asif Ali Zardari’s resolve of honouring the late Ms Bhutto’s word given to all parties engaged in the ىunderstandingî for reconciliation between popular politicians and the establishment. Mian Nawaz Sharif will be sacrificing his stand to ësave the system’. The elder Sharif will be following the footsteps of Ch Shujaat Hussain, who had shouldered the same burden in the last over five years.

By legalising the presence of post-November 3 judges amongst the deposed judges after the implementation of the plan through whatever legal course, the coalition will be sanctifying the status of the PCO judges. If the present CJP gets a clean chit from parliament, he will, in fact, be getting a stamp on all his post-November 3 acts. This also includes the historic judgment on the legality of President Musharraf’s election for another term by the PML-Q-led government. The present CJP had validated the election of the president, setting aside the argument of serious constitutional violations. The deposed set of judges was punished under the apprehension of an unfavourable verdict. So, the whole judges’ issue stemmed from a principle, which was considered vital for bringing order to the country.

Now, the restored judiciary, in whatever form, will not be in a position to pose any direct or indirect threat to President Musharraf’s another stint in power till November 2012. At least, not on the ground challenged by Justice (retd) Wajihuddin the last time just before the presidential elections. Interestingly, no review petition can be filed either for 30 days have lapsed after the decision by the ëcompetent court’. Even if there had been room for filing a review petition, the same judges would have heard the case under the law.

In the light of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s press conference, it seems certain the only defiant elected party has also come down on its knees for ësaving the system’ and the coalition, of course. The PML-N had waged a struggle for the judiciary. Indirectly, it fought for a principle. That is, justice for all. Through this, the PML-N chief believed the entire system could be revamped. The PML-N opted out of the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) quite late against boycotting the polls. The reason furnished at that time was the party would be in a better position to challenge the establishment from within, rather than outside parliament.

By agreeing to this formula, the PML-N has literally betrayed the mandate — the will of the people to rid this country of dictators. The PML-Q, as a party, had never been in favour of judges’ removal. It was helpless, a dummy government, which could not resist the pressure from President Musharraf. This Q was rejected by the people for the only sin of becoming the president’s crutches, enabling him to negotiate constitutional chicanes. This is what precisely the PML-N will be doing. One can understand the PPP’s position. It is the deal that binds Zardari with President Musharraf for the US is a guarantor and the army is the custodian. President Musharraf’s presence for another term is the former ruling partiesي dream. The ANP is silent. So, the cause of liberating the judiciary was left to the PML-N, the lawyers and the APDM. One major force has seemingly been neutralised by Asif Ali Zardari, the frontman of the establishment.

Why has the PML-N made this compromise? What it will get out of it? With impeachment the only way left to remove President Musharraf from the scene, one wonders what other ënoble’ plans does the coalition have to justify the mandate? On the face of it, the PML-N has opted for saving Punjab and a few ministries at the Centre. Perhaps, it has also neutralised the utility of its foe, the PML-Q, for the time being. Yet, it will lose all if it really pushes ahead with this plan.

Mian Nawaz Sharif needs to distance himself from buddies, who have stakes in power. A few such stalwarts have family stakes in more than one coalition camps. Mian Nawaz Sharif shouldn’t forget a particular clique was instrumental in his political demise the last time. He is dicing with another set of people, who have all-weather friends in the establishment. If the PML-N goes for this compromise, it will be a dead-part walking.

Both Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif should stop for a while on their options, and start looking at the options the pro-Nov 2 and anti-Nov 3 judiciary forces have. What if the deposed judges refuse restoration through a resolution that makes them sit with the PCO judges? What if the deposed brigade joins the corps of lawyers?

Source: The News, 4/5/2008

 Posted by at 7:15 am

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