With the unfolding political developments currently dominating media coverage of Pakistan, it is difficult for me to not provide daily updates on the PML-N exit from the federal cabinet and the judiciary restoration issue. However, following this post, I do promise to update you on the other (mainly security-related) issues affecting the country.
On Wednesday, Pakistani media outlets continued to report on the developments following the widely covered PML-N resignation. The News reported:
In yet another controversial move, the government has contacted several deposed judges of the provincial high courts with an offer to reappoint them as judges of their respective high courts but at the cost of compromising their pre-Nov 3 seniority.
What exactly is this new initiative? If implemented, the offer “would make those judges of the provincial high courts who had refused to take oath under General Musharraf’s PCO on Nov 3, 2007, junior to their colleagues who preferred to work with a military strongman under the PCO.” The Daily Times noted, “It claimed that the government had decided to reappoint the sacked judges if they agreed to adjust themselves with the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) judges, adding that the same offer would be forwarded to the Supreme Court judges if the initiative succeeded.” However, almost all the deposed judges approached with the initiative rejected the offer. The News added, “Sources said that through this move the government would be rewarding the judges who had taken oath under the PCO on Nov 3, and punishing those who had refused to show allegiance to the military dictator in violation of the Constitution.” According to the media outlet, the PPP “wanted to retain the incumbent chief justices of the provincial high courts even if the deposed judges were restored.” This differs from the PML-N “full restoration” position, which had reportedly “compromised to the extent that the PCO judges appointed after Nov 3 in the Supreme Court, would be made ad hoc judges,” noted The News.
The debate over the judiciary restoration (not the issue itself, but the how-to) was essentially the impetus behind the PML-N resignation from the cabinet on Monday. Yesterday, the nine PML-N federal ministers submitted their official resignations to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who asked them “to continue to hold their offices until the matter was discussed with PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari who would return home soon,” Dawn newspaper reported. Although the resignations garnered significant media attention and speculation over the future of the ruling coalition, it is important to underline that Pakistani politicians downplayed its significance. On Wednesday, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, following an announcement that a resolution for restoration of judges will be presented before a joint session of Parliament, told reporters, “The media is presenting a picture as if the country is facing a situation of severe crisis, but in my view the situation is not that grave.” BBC News reported that Zardari “called the dispute a minor matter and said he expected Mr Sharif’s party to re-join the government.” A separate analysis by the BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan further affirmed this point, noting,
And Tuesday’s cabinet split may not be as dramatic as it appears. Mr. Sharif says his party will continue to support the government from the backbenches, rather than join the opposition. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is refusing to accept the resignations until Mr Zardari returns from abroad.
Do you agree that this situation can be rectified? Moreover, have we all just been waiting for this coalition to crumble, and therefore view any somewhat negative development as the final straw? According to The News, Zardari did assert that he will not abandon being Nawaz’s partner, and the PML-N leader emphasized that his party will continue to support the government. What do you think of these assertions? [Image from The News]