Archive for April 29th, 2008

On Tuesday, the restoration of the judiciary continued to dominate coverage among Pakistani media outlets. According to The News, the Pakistan People’s Party‘s co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari “went back on his word about [the] judges’ restoration in 30 days, agreed in the Murree Declaration.” According to the news agency, “Talking to Dr. Shahid Masood in a Geo News program “Meray Mutabiq”, he said what he along with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif announced in Murree was just a political statement and it could be interpreted in different ways.” The judges, who were sacked on November 3, 2007, will be restored through a constitutional package likely to take two weeks. According to the Daily Times, Zardari asserted the restoration “was not a simple matter,” as it “involves the law and the constitution.” The newspaper added,

Zardari said he wanted not just judges but the institution of judiciary to be independent, and the reforms package his party had put together aimed at strengthening the judiciary. The constitutional package would ensure the incumbent judges worked together with the sacked ones, he added.”

Dawn newspaper reported that Zardari, during the Geo interview, made it clear that the reinstatement of the judges “was not the focus of his election campaign.”  The media outlet quoted him stating, “We were not given a mandate for restoration of judges. People voted for us to save Pakistan and to change the system.”

Media outlets that have been reporting on the judiciary reinstatement have noted the recent “deadlock” among the ruling coalition parties over the issue. According to BBC News, “Divisions have emerged within the two main governing parties, the PPP and the PML-N, over how much power the restored judges should have.” Moreover, there has been continued debate over whether deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry should get his position back, [see previous post on the division]. The judiciary talks have been taking place in Zardari’s residence in Dubai. PML-N has sent Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s brother, to represent the party at the talks. Although PML-N has called for an “unequivocal restoration of the judges,” the PPP has been more cautious. This division was evident in media coverage Monday. Despite Zardari terming the Murree Declaration, “a political agreement” that could be “interpreted in different ways,” a separate Daily Times article yesterday quoted Nawaz Sharif, who said he could extend the deadline for the restoration of sacked judges to three or four days if the ruling alliance “forced him” to do so.

Although the newly elected PM Gilani asserted yesterday that the four-party coalition has “unity in diversity,” these recently reported divisions instead emphasizes its fragility. Not surprisingly, the rhetoric that previously united many of these parties is quickly giving way to reality. [Image from The News]

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