Archive for May 13th, 2008

Nawaz Sharif‘s dramatic announcement yesterday that his party, PML-N, was resigning from the cabinet garnered much news coverage and raised doubts about the fate of the six-week-old coalition government. Following the development, Pakistani media outlets reported on the reactions of PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, although coverage of his response varied slightly among news sources. Although The News reported that Zardari said that his party “would keep supporting the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in Punjab and no new ministers would be inducted into the federal government in place of the PML-N ministers who had resigned,” Dawn noted that he said the government did decide to appoint a new finance minister today in place of Ishaq Dar. According to Geo News, this decision to replace Dar was due to the country’s “looming budget” and “pressing economic issues.” Dawn noted that Zardari still emphasized that the other minister positions would remain vacant, adding, “We will wait for Nawaz Sharif to come back.”

The Daily Times reported that the PPP co-chairman “asked Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani not to accept the resignations of PML-N ministers.” The Times, citing a report by ARY Television, “Zardari said he would call a party meeting after his return from London and that he would persuade the PML-N to resume talks.” According to the Daily Times, “Zardari said his differences with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif were not of serious nature and that the PPP would not field a candidate against him in the June 26 by-elections.”

Despite Zardari’s diplomatic overtures, I have still been confused over the logic of Sharif’s decision Monday. However, upon reading and exploring various theories, I found this explanation, from The Pakistan Policy Blog most plausible:

So what’s Sharif doing? He’s strategically distancing himself from the PPP with a measured protest against the latter’s refusal to reinstate the deposed judges in the agreed manner and time frame. His party’s resignation from the government permits the PPP to proceed on its own course vis-a-vis the judges…If the public finds the PPP’s judicial ‘reforms’ palatable, then Nawaz can return to the government. But, if they don’t, he can say that he had nothing to do with this and, despite his best efforts, the judges were not restored.

Definitely a logical explanation that allows Nawaz a seemingly convenient exit out of the hot seat  – what do you think?

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