Total Pageviews

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pakistani president's reversal on chief justice raises questions
Questions arise over will, strength to fight terrorism
by Kim Barker - Mar. 17, 2009 12:00 AMChicago Tribune
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The announcement Monday that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari backed down and reinstated the country's fired Supreme Court chief justice raised numerous questions about the strength of his rule and the country's leadership, especially amid U.S. worries about Pakistan staying focused on the battle against terrorism in southern Asia.
Although the government halted a crisis by stating that former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry will be restored Saturday, the position of Zardari was weakened by his retreat, analysts say. For months, he had resisted restoring Chaudhry, despite pledges to do so, allegedly because he was afraid Chaudhry would pursue corruption cases against him.
Despite the decision, the political crisis may continue, even if it's not as volatile as in recent weeks.
Experts say that could distract Pakistan from helping effectively in the U.S.-led war on terror.
The stature of Zardari's chief rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, could rise because he championed the cause of the judiciary and defied house arrest to lead mounting protests that forced Zardari to back down.
At issue is not just a judicial crisis and marchers demanding rule of law. Instead, many Pakistanis said they rallied because they feel they have no recourse and Chaudhry is their only hope.
Zardari, who reportedly acted after pressure from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Army chief Ashfaq Kayani, now must decide whether to fade into the background and hold onto his position or face more public unrest, analysts said.
Clinton engaged in an extraordinary round of telephone diplomacy as the Pakistani standoff approached crisis, placing weekend calls to Zardari, Sharif and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.
"His position is definitely weakened, there's no doubt about it," Talat Masood, a retired general and political analyst, said of Zardari. "Both morally and in terms of exercising power."

No comments: