Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why Pak president sacks judges?

By Li Jingchen
ISLAMABAD, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- As many as 76 judges across Pakistan, who took oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) after former President Pervez Musharraf declared state of emergency on Nov. 3, 2007, ceased to hold their offices from Monday following a presidential order by incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari.
Why did Zardari issue the notification at this moment?
On the surface, the notification was in pursuit of honoring the verdict by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on July 31 that Musharraf had violated the Constitution and his appointment of judges under the PCO was also unconstitutional.
However, analysts believe that the removal of the PCO judges must be the result of a tug-of-war on the political arena, especially between the ruling party Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the biggest opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
And the Supreme Court's verdict and Zardari's notification indicated that things are developing in a way that is in PML-N's favor.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was suspended by Musharraf in March 2007 on charges of misuse of authority. But four months later, under the opposition's pressure, the Supreme Court declared his restoration.
Chaudhry made several verdicts displeasing the government, including permitting exiled former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf's rival, back to Pakistan.
Musharraf declared rule of emergency in Pakistan in November 2007 when he faced problems of his ineligibility for the president position. He sacked Chaudhry and other judges who declined to take oath under the PCO and refused to show allegiance to Musharraf.
The PPP and PML-N emerged as the two leading parties in the National Assembly, lower house of the parliament, in the general elections in February 2008. After several rounds of talks, the PML-N decided to join a coalition federal government led by the PPP, which in return promised to restore the sacked judges including Chaudhry.
After that, Sharif, who had benefited from Chaudhry, made efforts for the restoration of the deposed judges. But Zardari refused to reinstate the chief justice for his own interest when he became the president.
Sharif blamed Zardari of not meeting his commitment and the PML-N quit the coalition in August 2008, becoming the biggest opposition.
The lawyers and political activists kicked off their "long march" on March 12, and planned to reach capital Islamabad to stage a sit-in in order to press the government to restore the judges including Chaudhry. Sharif, also chief of the PML-N, ignored the house arrest warning and spearheaded the procession from the eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad.
In order to defuse the rising political turmoil, the Pakistani government made a concession and announced Chaudhry's restoration on March 16.
After that, the Supreme Court, headed by Chaudhry, declared a series of verdicts in Sharif's favor, ruling Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif qualified for contesting elections, and setting aside the conviction of Sharif by the Sindh High Court in 2000 in the plane hijacking case during the regime of Musharraf. All these actions cleared legal obstacles to Sharif's running for power again.
Analysts believe that the Supreme Court's verdict on Musharraf's rule of emergency has almost cleansed all the residual influence of Musharraf.
At present people's concern is somewhat over Musharraf's fate. Some lawyers are trying to sue Musharraf for treason. But the Supreme Court observed that it could not initiate treason proceedings against him on its own though the apex court could rule on the constitutionality of the action by Musharraf. The court observed that the power to try the former president for treason and other crimes lay with the parliament. And the fact is that the previous parliament had backed Musharraf's action.
Analysts said that although things are developing toward the interest of PML-N, Zardari would not let the investigation into Musharraf go much further.
The PPP and its leaders have been benefiting from some laws promulgated during Musharraf's rule. Together with the PCO, Musharraf also promulgated a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which granted amnesty to politicians who faced charges within a specific period. Zardari, who faced quite a number of corruption charges, was one of those who benefited from the NRO. Benazir Bhutto, who then chaired the PPP, former Pakistani Prime Minister and wife of Zardari, was permitted to return home for elections under the NRO. And the item of the constitution that the president has the right to dismiss the parliament is still valid.
All these would prevent the PPP completely yielding to the PLM-N, and because the two parties' interests and aims are different, there is rare possibility for them to cooperate sincerely.
Analysts believe that while Pakistani security forces are fighting against Taliban militants and the government is facing the task of recovering the country from the economic crisis, the charge of treason against Musharraf may trigger instability in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Musharraf also has widespread relations with officials in the government and the military, the charge against him may cause a series of chain reaction.
Former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri during Musharraf's rule said in an interview with the local media that the present government should take the route of justice and not vengeance in the case of Musharraf.
British officials said that Britain had not received a petition for asylum from Musharraf, who is now in London for holidays.

No comments: