Pakistan’s leadership seems to be oblivious to the dangers looming large on the horizon and unconcerned about the sinister being played around us. The political parties that were once embroiled in a nasty wrangle in the past are now coalition partners but their leaders are bluffing each other. They are issuing conflicting statements and shifting stances. It may not be wrong to say that they are on a self-destruct course and treading the same beaten track of 1990s. Their tone and tenor and body language show that they are not willing to leave the past behind or to forgive and forget. The nation is fed up with their shenanigans and gimmickry. People in general do want restoration of judges but they do not want to see the politics of vengeance. They had pinned high hopes on the leaders of major parties and hoped that they would put their act together and find ways and means to rid them of price hikes, unemployment and improve law and order situation. But to their chagrin, the priorities of these leaders are different.
Recently, the US think tanks, presidential probabales and members of Congress has started a tirade against Pakistan, which is reflective of their evil designs. On 2nd March, members of the US Senate had urged the Bush administration to launch military strikes at alleged Al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan. Senator Carl Levin, Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee had said the panel would press the Defence and State departments to consider taking military action against alleged Al Qaeda camps inside Pakistan if they learn that attacks inside Afghanistan have been planned at these sites. Pakistan had rejected such conjectures and had categorically stated that it would not allow any foreign forces to conduct operation in Pakistan, as Pakistan has the power and the capacity to deal with the militants. Because, Pakistan is looking like a divided house, even President Hamid Karzai has the audacity to say that Afghanistan has the right to conduct operation in Pakistani territory in self-defence. People of Pakistan were concerned over last week’s long march that any mishap leading to chaos and anarchy could derail the democratic process. The redeeming feature was that the long march remained peaceful and the lawyers’ community understood the game of politicians that wanted to hijack the movement. The credit, however, goes to the lawyers’ fraternity as well as the central government, which handled the situation meticulously and displayed patience and statesmanship. There is no denying that all strata of society are unanimous on the restoration of the deposed judges but the majority supports the PPP stance that the matter should be settled in the Parliament. Secondly, two major parties forming coalition have expressed their determination to restore the deposed judges through the constitutional amendment. There is no reason to distrust the PPP leadership that it is prevaricating on the issue. However, Asif Ali Zardari has the right and is taking all the measures to protect him because if restored judges’ bench declared President Musharraf’s election null and void, all his acts including the NRO 2007 would automatically stand annulled.
Anyhow, the nation is being kept on tenterhooks with conflicting statements and shifting of stances by the leaders of two major political parties forming coalition government. After February 18 elections and formation of coalition government by yester-years archenemies, the people had hoped that they will not reinvent confrontational politics of 1990s and will focus on legislation work for the welfare of the masses. Despite asseverations by Zardari and Nawaz Sharif that there are no differences between them, Judges’ issue remains the bone of contention between the PPP and the PML-N. The PPP wants to adjust the PCO judges while PML-N wants them to be demoted to their November 2 position or be appointed on ad hoc basis. And some of the PML-N and lawyers’ leaders want that those judges should be tried for taking oath under Provisional Constitutional Order. But there is a genuine problem in that the PCO judges have during the last six months given verdicts – awarded sentences to some and acquitted others. And if their appointments were considered unconstitutional and illegal, then their verdicts dismissing cases against Zardari would also be null and void. PML-N leaders take the plea that since action of President Musharraf was unconstitutional there is no need to reinstate the deposed judges through a constitutional amendment but a simple resolution in the parliament would suffice will do it. PPP leadership wants to consolidate its position and is not in a hurry to impeach President Musharraf. Perhaps its leaders want to give margin to him for having allowed them to come back and participate in elections. In fact, the PML-N leadership owes its presence in the assemblies to late Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari for having persuaded Mian Nawaz Sharif not to boycott the elections.
There is a perception that the long march was an effort to destabilize the government and demolish the entire system evolved from dictatorship to quasi-democracy to full democracy. The unfortunate part was that one of the coalition partners joined the protest against its own coalition government, which is unprecedented and tantamount to shooting in their own foot. Some analysts say that it is replay of 1988 and an intrigue to get rid of the PPP government. Anyhow, the PPP leadership seems to understand the ground realities, whereas the course pursued by the PML-N leaders is fraught with dangers. Confrontational mode of politics has hurt Pakistan in the past and if the leaders do not understand the exigencies of time, they cannot achieve the objectives of stability of the country and welfare of the people, which are interlinked. In the past, there have been all shades of governments – military and democratically elected governments, but they failed to address the problems faced by the people who live in abject poverty. From 1988 to 1999, the democratically elected governments bandied about accusations of being security risk and corruption, and filed cases against each other. Anyhow, the politics of power and pelf had resulted in their ouster under 58-2 (b), but when Mian Nawaz Sharif had done away with the amendment during his second stint and tried to make a mockery of each and every institution, he was sent packing home through what President Pervez Musharraf had described a counter coup. As a matter of fact, our politicians had no patience to wait for the government to complete its term, and they often tried to persuade the army chief to dislodge the government. Since there is parliament, it should be allowed to work and settle issues without any external pressure either from the groups or elsewhere.
Source: Pakistan Observer, 21/6/2008