Pakistan: Sharif’s Tirade against Musharraf
Abdul Ruff - 5/11/2008
If any one in Pakistan who hates president Pervez Musharraf from his core of heart, that is undoubtedly former premier and Quaid Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and with his own solid reason. It was General Musharraf who removed him from power in 1999 when Sharif was reigning in full speed in Islamabad. His own father later repented for his son’s immaturity in rubbing wrong shoulders with the military establishment. Sharif seeks revenge and wants to punish Musharraf.Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has made his anger anguish against Musharraf in full zoom and it seems he would never forget or forgive him, unless Musharraf quits presidency. It is clearly immaterial to him if he succeeds Musharraf or the country now limping back to a sort of normalcy now, gets back to turmoil killing thousands of Muslims in the country and adds to the US track record in the country and the region. the situation in Pakistan will once again lead to a political crisis Restoring the judges has been a top priority for the two main parties in Pakistan's month-old government, but disputes over how to bring the judges back had threatened to break up the ruling coalition.The IssuesBefore the formation of the government last month, both PPP and PML-N signed a declaration that they would reinstate the sacked judges within 30 days of assuming power. The two sides differ widely over the modalities of restoring the judges, especially the proposed constitutional package that envisages fixing the tenure for the chief justice. The PML-N is averse to the idea of fixing any tenure for the post. Moreover, the PPP wants to club the constitution package for curtailing the powers of the president and the resolution to restore the judges, while the PML-N does not want to link the two issues.Duo-MeetingPakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari sounded a positive note as they met again at the residence of Zardari in Dubai to discuss restoration of sacked judges who were deposed after the imposition of emergency by President Pervez Musharraf last November. The deadlock over the deposed judges continued hounding the coalition partners as after seven-hour talks between Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif in Dubai their negotiations remained inconclusive even after discussing the issue at Dubai, though "There was some progress on the issue of deposed judges”. Stand-off over the issue had been threatening Pakistan's ruling coalition. However, 'talks are going on and I am confident that there will be a positive outcome,' Sharif told reporters.There were doubts about the outcome of the meeting as Zardari has been saying that the judges gave him no relief when he was jailed. Zardari, the widower of the slain PPP chief Benazir Bhutto, was arrested in November 1996 when the PPP government was sacked by the then president Farooq Leghari. He was released in 2004.Talks between the two parties remained inconclusive Monday night. Leaders of both those representing the PPP were Law Minister Farooq Naek, adviser to the prime minister on interior affairs Rehman Malik, and Shipping Minister Syed Naved Qamar. From the PML-N, its president Shahbaz Sharif, Communications Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali, Petroleum Minister Khawaja Asif and attorney general of Punjab Khawaja Harris were present.The talks are seen as crucial to the newly formed coalition, as the PML-N is determined to undo the decisions of Musharraf and assert the democratically elected government's authority, while the PPP is not too keen on linking constitutional reforms and restoration of judges. PML-N sources said party leaders wanted the judges to be restored within the set deadline as they believed any delay would leave a bad impression on the lawyers' community in particular and the public in general.Talking to reporters in Lahore before leaving for Dubai, Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Nawaz and Chief Minister of Punjab said his party had taken a clear stand that the issue of the judges' reinstatement should not be linked with the constitutional package that is meant to undo the amendments made by Musharraf and to cut his powers. Another PML-N leader said the party may give a few days to the PPP to reinstate the judges after the April 30 deadline expires. 'If they still refuse to restore the judges, the PML-N will consider options like sitting in the opposition,' he said.The Reasonable TiradeThe Former Prime Minister said that the politicians, political parties, democratic parties, press, media and masses would have to take final decision that they would not allow any dictator to rule the country in future. In past, media, politicians and judges were also part of dictatorship but today masses have taken decision that they would not support dictatorship in the country, he said, adding, today some element want to create differences between ruling alliance of PPP and PML-N but the nation would foil their nefarious design.Sharif said he would never accept Musharraf as president even if he agreed to give up his power to dissolve the parliament — another key target of the ruling coalition. "We will not accept him even if he accepts everything," he said. "His illegal and unconstitutional status cannot change until he gives up his office." Nawaz Sharif challenges Musharraf on the reported threat of dissolving the parliament. He has made it clear no one would be allowed to dissolve Parliament, adding, “we would break hand of those who pave the way for dissolution of Parliament”. Sharif repeats: "The rule of President Pervez Musharraf is not only painful for masses but also dangerous for democracy. If the corrupt people can be held accountable then why who breach the constitution and law can not be impeached", he asks.Nawaz Sharif said he was not under any pressure, prior to the crucial meeting with Zardari on the issue of restoration of sacked judges. Sharif and Zardari discussed two crucial issues - reinstatement of judges of higher judiciary, who were sacked after imposition of emergency last November, and the future of President Musharraf. He paid great tribute to struggle of journalists for the cause of democracy and free media in Pakistan , besides highlighting the issue of judiciary. Regarding Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Mian Nawaz Sharif said, there should not be any restrictions on the press and media and PEMRA ordinance would die its own death. Situation is changing quite drastically. Sharif thinks that Zardari is not keen to support Sharif on judges’ issue.Sharif’s One-point programSharif would like to have Musharraf badly insulted so that he quits presidency. Even if they don't, some argue the humiliation of the judges returning could prompt Musharraf to resign. Musharraf would have to be "absolutely shameless" to continue as president if the judges come back, said Khawaja Asif, a key Sharif aide. He said Musharraf also risked impeachment.Sharif said on May 02 that the package was still no more than a set of "proposals" and that the legal experts of PPP and PMLN would continue to work on it. The coalition parties have been trying to turn the tables on the president since they routed his supporters in February elections on an anti-Musharraf platform. The PPP, led by Asif Ali Zardari, the widower and political successor of Benazir Bhutto, wanted to link the restoration of the judges to a broader package of judicial reforms. But Sharif had urged the restoration be kept separate.Sharif said he would never accept Musharraf as president even if he agreed to give up his power to dissolve the parliament — another key target of the ruling coalition. "We will not accept him even if he accepts everything," he said. "His illegal and unconstitutional status cannot change until he gives up his office."Musharraf’s Defense But Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, a former minister and prominent Musharraf ally, predicted the coalition's plan would run into legal problems. A constitutional amendment was required to reverse Musharraf's purge of the courts, he said.Meanwhile, the Presidency in Pakistan has reportedly evolved a strategy to obstruct the restoration of the sacked judiciary through a stay order if the new coalition government attempts to restore them through an executive order. According to reports, a committee headed by Attorney General Malik Qayyum has been constituted for this purpose. A petition has already been drafted to get a stay order against any executive order intended to restore the sacked judges. The committee has been tasked with preparing this new constitutional package after reviewing all recent developments related to the judges' restoration and to amendments in the Constitution.Musharraf had accused Chaudhry of corruption and conspiring against Pakistan's gradual return to democracy. Zardari, meanwhile, has said Chaudhry and other judges were "playing politics" and failed to deliver justice to him during the years he spent in jail on unproven corruption charges.Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, ousted some 60 senior judges when he imposed a state of emergency in November to stop legal challenges to his re-election as president. Those deposed included then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Bringing the judges back bodes ill for the unpopular president, who seized power from Sharif in a 1999 military coup. The judges could also revisit Musharraf's disputed re-election. "Forget the judges. Even a low-ranking official cannot be restored by such a resolution," Ahmad said. Pakistan's leaders have set May 12 as the date to restore judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf, a top official said Friday, further threatening Musharraf's already diminished grip on power.Who will win?Even when Zardari, the most powerful politician in Pakistan now, has softened his opposition to Musharraf, but Sharif has not, at least, yet. None can bet on the defeat in the standoff of former General, who still stays on in his military Bungalow, and Sharif should consider revising, albeit temporarily, his present anti-Musharraf strategy for mutual accommodation and in consideration of nation’s prosperity. Premier Gilani is too keen to lift Pakistan above poverty and, war, tensions and backwardness and Sharif and Zardari on whom people have bestowed confidence, should rise above petty politics to uplift Pakistan and give its new face lift. For Pakistan’s sake and Pakistanis sake and for the sake of Kashmiris who look upon the Pakistani brethren for their effective survival and freedom form hegemon India. That will indeed be the victory for Pakistan.
Abdul Ruff is an Indian analyst, researcher & commentator.