On Wednesday, The News, quoting unidentified sources, reported that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf “has offered to resign in return for indemnity by parliament for his unconstitutional steps taken on November 3, 2007.” However, what exactly were these unconstitutional steps? According to The News, which cited “legal and constitutional experts,” there were three main steps taken by Musharraf – “The first was the removal of independent judges. The second was installing his own handpicked judges and the third was indemnifying the controversial and illegal National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).” This package, if approved, will potentially pave the way for what media outlets deemed as Musharraf’s “safe exit” from office.
The Daily Times quoted Law Minister Farooq Naek, who told Dawn News Tuesday that the Pakistan People’s Party “was preparing a draft constitutional reforms package and might consult the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and other parties after presenting it to the federal cabinet.” Naek also told Geo News that the package would also “balance the powers of the president and prime minister.” Bloomberg cited statements by party spokesman Farhatullah Babar, who said in a phone interview today, “The constitutional package is one of the most critical issues right now,” and will be discussed May 24. The news agency added, “The constitutional changes will cover the appointment and removal of judges, the work of the Election Commission and presidential authority.”
What has the PML-N reaction been to this indemnity discussion? Although Bloomberg noted that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif would support coalition efforts to curb Musharraf’s powers, the Daily Times reported that party leaders “reacted strongly” to Naek’s comments on Wednesday. The news agency noted:
PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq and PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal told Dawn News that giving indemnity to Musharraf was not in the national interest…Farooq said the people of Pakistan had voted on February 18 against Musharraf’s policies and his unconstitutional actions, and offering him indemnity would be going against their wishes.
Should Musharraf be granted indemnity for his actions in November 2007? Although this move may not be the most desirable option, it would still essentially allow for his voluntary exit from office. That in effect could be viewed as more legitimate than forcing him out of power.