Posts Tagged ‘Parliament’

After years of back-and-forth posturing, gesticulating, muchy-twirling and chest puffing – it’s official. Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province will officially be renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PCCR) signed the draft of the 18th Amendment Wednesday (dubbed “the best constitutional thing to happen since the 1973 consensus Constitution”). 

For those unaware of the issue, Rahimullah Yusufzai does a great job of detailing it in The News this week. In “The Case for Pakhtunkhwa,” he wrote, “The debate on renaming [NWFP] is serious business because it concerns the identity of its people and their place in the federation of Pakistan. However, the direction it has taken is sometimes comical, and at best uninformed and politicized.”

The Awami National Party (ANP) have long campaigned for the change to Pakhtunkhwa, (in November 1997, the NWFP Assembly even passed a resolution in favor of the name), asserting that it reflects the Pashtun majority of the province. However, the opposition (specifically the PML-N) claimed the titlemarginalized other ethnic groups in the province,” though every other province in Pakistan – Punjab, Balochistan, and Sindh – reflect a specific ethnic group. Go figure.

As parties entered into lengthy debates over a potential province name, some interesting options have come out of the woodwork – Neelab, Nuristan, Darul Islam, Afghania, and Abaseen, (a name used for the Indus River). At the end, renaming it Khyber (in reference to the Khyber Pass)-Pakhtunkhwa seemed to be a compromise both the PML-N and ANP could agree upon (although the PML-Q expressed reservations).

In his piece Yusufzai made one particular point that was interesting – “People with fertile imaginations and unconcerned that the issue was to provide identity to its majority Pakhtun population came up with still more bizarre names that don’t even deserve to be discussed.”

Since I was not privy to the “bizarre” names that failed to make the chopping block, my overactive imagination can only wonder out loud. Imaginary PML-N, take it away:

  • Muchiekhwa or Muchiestan – Because everyone’s got a moustache. Even the ladies.
  • Sharifs-are-your-pals-stan – Not so subtle way for PML-N to shore up voter support among Pathans.
  • We-want-your-votes-but-Punjabis-actually-rule-stan – Um, yeah. No.
  • RAW-istan – “Wait, what do you mean RAW isn’t the Taliban in disguise? Taliban doesn’t equal Pashtuns? Damn.”
  • Nawaz-ia – Nawaz, the hair plugs called. They want their lack of subtlety back.

Dude. Nawaz-ia would have been TOTALLY awesome.

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Jamshed Dasti: Are YOU Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Last week, two parliamentarians resigned from their posts after their educational qualifications were called into question. Below, Usman Zafar, an Islamabad-based producer for Express 24/7 discusses this development, commenting on the state of Pakistan’s current leadership:

Pakistan Peoples Party leader Jamshed Dasti, a prominent member of the National Assembly, is known for his vocal opinions in parliament, to the point where he has been reprimanded for using “un-parliamentary language.” As the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Sports, he has minced no words in lecturing the nation’s cricketers on the importance of ethical behavior on the field, at a time when accusations of match fixing and ball tampering were rife within the Pakistan team.

But on Thursday, the vocal Mr. Dasti was quieter than ever. Nor was he lecturing anyone on morality. The reason, was because his own morality was now in question.

A legal case had been filed against the PPP MNA in the Supreme Court, contending that Mr. Dasti’s Master’s Degree in Islamic Studies was fake, and hence disqualified him from being a member of Parliament. The matter was heard by a six member bench of the Supreme Court headed by none other than the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

It was at this hearing that Mr. Dasti’s earsplitting remarks were reduced to mere murmurs. When asked if he knew the names of the first 15 suras (Chapters) of the Holy Quran, he could not answer. He couldn’t even name the first five suras, casting serious doubt on his credentials as a Masters in Islamic Studies.

But the real shockers were yet to come. When asked to recite the first verses of the Quran, he recitedAl-Hamd Sharif” (Sura-e-Fateha) to the dismay of the Apex Court. And when he was asked what version of the Quran he had read, he replied the version of Hazrat Musa! The Court was appalled. The so called MA in Islamic Studies knew less than a five year old on the subject!

It was then that the PPP MNA’s academic credentials truly came into the forefront. He could not tell what courses he had done in his degree, or what year he had completed it. He could not even give the right answer to 4 multiplied by 2! At that point, the hearing bench had heard enough, and Mr. Dasti was given a choice: Resign from parliament right away, or face a full investigation exposing all his dishonest actions in the courts. Mr Dasti took option one without any hesitation.

To add insult to injury, Mr. Dasti wasn’t the only one who tendered his resignation that evening. In another hearing at the Apex Court, PML-Q MNA Nazir Jutt also opted to resign after it was found out that his Bachelors degree was fake.

After the case hearing, the Chief Justice of Pakistan commented as to how these parliamentarians could make the laws of the country when they themselves were found guilty of gross lies and deceitful actions. And he couldn’t be more right. Our country’s parliamentarians claim to be the true representatives of the people. They campaign on a platform of virtue, honesty, and purity, adhering to the ideals of this country. But if anything, we have seen the exact opposite infiltrating our government. The President of this country is involved in money laundering cases amounting to billions of dollars, and would have not even been eligible for office had he not chosen to seek amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a dubious deal under which thousands of cases concerning him, and other high profile politicians, were just swept under the rug, all in the name of “reconciliation”. There is no wonder that the NRO is called the “black law”, but the stains from this law remain, and they are darker than ever.

But sadly, rather than trying to purify the parliament from such impurities, they are actually exacerbating them. The government is actually defending the NRO in the courts, and that too after the Supreme Court declared it null and void on the basis of violating critical parts of the constitution. The cartels of this country run rampant in key areas like wheat and sugar, and the only organization charged with battling them, the Competition Commission of Pakistan, has been declared defunct last week, thanks to government inaction.

The great fable writer Aesop once said, “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” That statement seems almost tailor made for the leaders of Pakistan, who seem to talk all about the vices committed by others, but look the other way when it comes to the major crimes committed by our leaders, and talk about how democracy must be allowed to foster. There is nothing worse for democracy than the prevalence of such hypocrisy, for it is the main reason for the public’s disillusionment in their representatives. Unless there is a crackdown on all such activities, and virtue restored to the heart of our governance, this democracy will die a slow painful death, and there will be no one more responsible than these so-called denizens of democracy.

The contribution is the sole opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of CHUP. If you would like to contribute a piece to CHUP, please email Kalsoom at changinguppakistan[at]gmail[dot]com. Pieces should be no longer than 800 words please. For past contributions, click here.

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According to the AFP, “A small contingent of U.S. military instructors have begun a training program scheme aimed at turning Pakistan’s Frontier Corps into an effective counter-insurgency force.” The news agency cited a U.S. military official, who told the news agency Thursday, “About 25 U.S. military personnel last week began training Pakistani counterparts at a location in Pakistan outside the troubled tribal areas where the Frontier Corps operates.” He emphasized that the Americans will not directly train the Frontier Corps, but their Pakistani army instructors, noting that the aim is “basically to train the Frontier Corps in counter-insurgency warfare to make them more effective in the tribal areas.” [Image from Dawn]

The “politically sensitive” program has been stalled for months by negotiations between the U.S. and Pakistani military. Although the AFP reported that the U.S. official “attributed the delay to difficulties in getting the facilities needed to conduct the training,” recent tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan may also have played a part.  According to the Washington Post yesterday, “Zardari and the government of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani have been at pains to balance their support of U.S. objectives with a recognition of widespread Pakistani distrust of the United States — among the population as well as the political class.” Such distrust has been intensified with increasing U.S. air strikes on Pakistani soil. Just yesterday, news agencies reported that a U.S. missile attack hit a Pakistani madrassa [reportedly set up a Pakistani Taliban commander] in North Waziristan, killing eight students.

BBC News reported that yesterday’s attack came just “hours after the Pakistani parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the government to defend its sovereignty and expel foreign fighters from the region.” An editorial in Pakistan’s Daily Times called the resolution, “an important moment in Pakistan’s history in so far as the politicians did not sabotage the session as they appeared to indicate earlier, but agreed to make an effort to arrive at a consensus over the crisis of terrorism in Pakistan.” According to Bloomberg, “Lawmakers approved a resolution…that called for a review of Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy while saying that a dialogue with militants must be a  ‘principal instrument’ toward managing and resolving conflicts.” The news agency added, “Pakistan has called on the U.S. to stop carrying out unilateral air strikes and raids into its territory to attack suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda bases, saying such moves hamper its efforts to combat extremists.”

Other notable figures in Pakistan have also voiced their increasing concern over the U.S. presence in the country. On Thursday, cricketer-turned-politician [and philanthropist] Imran Khan also called for dialogue with Pakistani militants, asserting that “the way the United States was trying to tackle extremism was like fighting ‘fire with gasoline’ and that the aerial attacks were ‘the worst way to deal’ with the issue. He emphasized, “Unless there’s a change of strategy, in my opinion there’s no victory in sight for the U.S.” Khan  also paralleled the current situation to the Vietnam War, noting, “Certainly the biggest casualty out of this is going to be Pakistan… [We are] heading the way Cambodia did during the Vietnam war where Cambodia was accused of sending in insurgents and Cambodia was bombed, destablized and you had the killing fields there.” [Image from the AFP]

The U.S. military training program has therefore been initiated within this atmosphere of distrust and increasing anti-American sentiment. In a recently released Gallup poll, 45% of Pakistanis said they viewed the U.S. forces in Afghanistan as a menace to their country. The fact that the program involves the U.S. indirectly training the Frontier Corps [via Pakistani Army officials] may indicate that the United States at least acknowledges this fact.

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The most recent issue of the Friday Times** included an in-depth discussion of the October 8th in-camera parliamentary briefings, [see this past post for more background]. According to the news agency,

In a move seen as an attempt by the government to win over skeptics and dissenters within Parliament, parliamentarians were given an overview of the nature of terrorist threat facing Pakistan, and the steps taken by the government and the military in countering it…

The Friday Times ran a series of interviews conducted by Shaukat Piracha with various Pakistani members of Parliament (MPs) from different political parties, on their reactions and thoughts on the briefings. After sifting through their accounts, I thought it significant to highlight the key statements made by these political figures. Ahsan Iqbal, the central information secretary of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz [PPP’s initial coalition partner, now sitting on the opposition bench due to “irreconcileable differences” over the judiciary issue], asserted that his party believes,

…the nation is looking towards [the] parliament at this critical juncture in history…We believe the time has come…for a comprehensive strategy which is not simply based on security policy. The crisis is multi-dimensional…We want a comprehensive strategy that also gives due consideration to the educational and employment needs of the people. By doing so, we can bring all into the mainstream against extremism and terrorism.

Khurshid Ahmad, a senator from the Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party that has previously been vocal in opposing the government’s policy of conducting military operations against militants in the FATA, echoed the need for a more comprehensive strategy, and noted that Pakistan needs to adopt different policies to address the country’s “separate faces of terrorism.” He criticized the fact that “war on terror” has become “the label for all kinds of terrorism,” from sectarian to ethnic to religious militancy. He noted, “We have to review our attitude in the war on terror. We have to examine whether it is really a war on terror, or an instrument to further pursue the United States’  global agenda. If we do not steer the country out of this crisis, we will continue to pay a high price….in terms of economic coast, huge losses in trade, etc.”

Piracha also interviewed Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali, a PPP MNA and former foreign minister of Pakistan, who, unlike Ahmad and Iqbal, came out of the session “far more knowledgeable about sensitive issues,” and feeling “completely in the picture.” Ahmad, in contrast, asserted that “he learnt nothing new” from the in-camera briefing, while Iqbal noted there “were a lot of…gaps everywhere,” with the military officials and the information minister not providing any new information. Ali, on the other hand, stated, “For the first time in the history of the country, whether one admits it or not, I came out of the briefing far more knowledgeable about these sensitive issues. We now feel completely in the picture. There is an existential threat to this country…[for the first time since] 1971.” The PPP MP also discussed whether the government should dialogue with militants, [see CHUP’s previous post and take part in the poll], asserting, “If they [militants] renounce violence and lay down their arms, they are welcome to talk to us. Short of this, dialogue and making agreements has already proved counterpoductive.”

All in all, the interviewed MPs made some pretty interesting statements. However, on whether or not the sessions were beneficial, Ali – not surprisingly – wholeheartedly agreed. Seeing as how the PPP is the ruling party, such an assertion was not unexpected. Perhaps most telling though was the Jamaat-e-Islaami MP’s reaction, specifically when he emphasized, “We have to examine whether it is really a war on terror, or an instrument to further pursue the United States’ global agenda.” Although recent attacks have increasingly shifted the associated perception [with the fight against militancy] from the U.S.-led war on terror to Pakistan‘s war, the momentum can still swing in the other direction, particularly if U.S. drone attacks on Pakistani soil continue.

On Sunday, Dawn cited the latest Pew Global Attitudes poll that found that both the United States and Osama bin Laden have reached a new low in support among the Pakistani population. According to the report, “On balance, more Pakistanis express a negative than a positive view of the Taliban and Al Qaeda…One third of Pakistanis hold an unfavorable view of the Taliban (33 percent) and Al Qaeda (34 percent). Roughly a quarter hold a favorable view of both groups while many Pakistanis do not express an opinion about either.” Dawn added, “72 percent said they were concerned about religious extremism in Pakistan.” Interestingly, a recent Pew poll found 64 percent of Pakistanis believe the United States is the greatest threat facing the country, and 73 percent fear U.S. military action against Pakistan. [The slogan in the above AP photo says, “We hate bomb blasts.”]

Ultimately, both are increasingly perceived in an unfavorable light. However, the United States, by virtue of being a foreign state conducting raids across Pakistan’s borders, is a more  polarizing actor. The Pakistani Taliban, [not foreign militants from Al Qaeda], can skew that us-versus-them line because they are indigenous to the region. Although most of us do not see them as one of “us,” [Yeh hum naheen] they are arguably less of an “other” than the United States. While Pakistanis are more united against these militants, that is still a shaky development, likely to be complicated by these continued U.S. attacks [on militant targets]. If such incursions keep occurring, there is the underlying danger that the pendulum could swing in the other direction. Essentially, the Pakistani government and the military must develop a unified, comprehensive, and long-term strategy to ensure that would not be the case.

**To view the Friday Times article, you must be a subscriber.

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On Thursday, ten people were killed in separate bombings targeting police forces in Pakistan. According to media outlets, a suicide blast targeting a police complex that housed an anti-terrorist squad in Islamabad injured at least seven people. CNN reported, “The force of the blast crumbled one side of a three-story building, believed to be living quarters for officers.”  The AFP cited Islamabad police chief Asghar Gardezi, who told reporters that “police were probing whether the bomber had tricked his way into the heavily guarded complex using a ruse of delivering candy to policemen.” He asserted, “A green car entered and parked in front of the anti-terrorist building. The driver got out and presented two baskets of sweets to the officials sitting at the reception desk. It was followed by a big explosion.”

In a separate incident, nine people were killed when a roadside bomb exploded close to a prison vehicle and a school bus in north-western Pakistan, reported BBC News. The news agency reported, “The remote-controlled device exploded in the Upper Dir district of North-West Frontier Province near the Swat Valley.” Four schoolgirls, three policemen, and two prisoners were killed in the bombing.

According to Reuters, “There have been fears of more bomb attacks in reaction to an army offensive against Islamist militant strongholds in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.” CNN reported the Islamabad blast today “occurred about 6 miles (10 km) from the parliament building, where military officials were briefing lawmakers about the deteriorating security situation in the country and the the ongoing military offensive to flush out extremists in the country’s tribal regions.” The session was a continuation of the briefing that occurred yesterday, when MPs “were told in an in-camera session on Wednesday that the Taliban pose a serious threat to Pakistan’s security,” reported the Daily Times. The newly-appointed ISI director general, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, reportedly briefed lawmakers on the gravity of the threat with the help of slides, charts and films.  The Daily Times added, “Gen. Pasha had supervised military operations in the Tribal Areas and Swat as the director general of military operations before he was promoted.”

In an editorial today, Dawn noted that it remains to be seen whether these briefings will actually help evolve a  national consensus on fighting Pakistan’s war on terror. The editors wrote:

Yet, despite the seriousness of the Taliban’s challenge – a challenge not just to the government of the day but to the Pakistani people’s way of life – the nation’s representatives were never given the impression that it is they who should ultimately determine the direction of the war and chart out a strategy reflecting the nation’s will.

While it is significant that the military is including the Parliament in this process, I wonder whether this truly marks a divergence from the past. Will this still be seen as the military’s war on militancy, or will the Pakistani government take a more active role in the offensive? While the military will be an instrumental actor in this war, the government must take the lead in selling it to the Pakistani people and garnering popular support for the Army. Building  a Baghdad-style Green Zone in Islamabad may not suffice in addressing the much deeper issues at hand.

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parliament.jpgOn Monday, President Pervez Musharraf swore in 24 members of the new Prime Minister’s cabinet, six weeks after opposition parties swept the elections. According to the BBC News, “Twenty of those who took oath are from either the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) or the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).” Reuters, in its piece on the development added, “There is strong speculation the new government will force U.S. ally Musharraf, who came to power as a general in a 1999 coup, to quit within weeks or months.” However, there has reportedly been some apprehension within Pakistani media and political circles that “the United States could try to prop up Musharraf so that counterterrorism operations in the region are not disturbed by the changing of the guard in Islamabad.” Despite such speculation, the country’s new foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, described by the Associated Press as “a suave Cambridge University-educated scion of a landowning family,” told reporters after being sworn in, “I expect from the international community that it will support democracy in Pakistan and will help us in strengthening democratic institutions.” According to the AP, the appointment of Qureshi, a Benazir Bhutto loyalist, may have been “a move that could assuage Western concerns that Pakistan might ease up on Islamic militants.”
Several news sources today, including the Daily Times and BBC News, noted that members of the PML-N wore black armbands during the swearing in ceremony to protest and show their defiance of President Musharraf. According to Pakistan’s The News, “This is the first time in the national history that cabinet members were sworn in with black bands showing protests against the man who is administering oath to them.” The BBC cited PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq, who said that several new ministers served jail terms during President Musharraf’s time in power – including the new Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was sworn in last week. Reuters quoted senior minister Nisar Ali Khan, who told the news agency, “We took the oath because there is a larger objective and that is the restoration of the judiciary.”
With the swearing in ceremony now over, media outlets reported the countdown to the implementation of the Murree Declaration, which promises the reinstatement of the deposed judges within 30 days after the formation of the government, has begun. According to the AP, Pakistan’s deposed chief justice, recently released from house arrest, [see March 25th post] “revved up the campaign to win back his job Monday.” The news agency added, “The return of former justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry to the political spotlight and the pledge of the new government to restore judges fired by Musharraf cranked up the pressure on the U.S.-backed president to quit after eight years in power.” The BBC’s Ilyas Khan further noted that the PML-N, in particular, has been strongly pushing for Musharraf to resign and “is likely to keep up pressure on the PPP, the senior coalition partner, to pave the way for his impeachment by parliament.” With such obvious, “in-your-face” opposition, it seems likely that the president will have no choice but to step down from power. However, once Musharraf does resign, the coalition government will no longer have the common enemy that originally unified them. It will be interesting to watch whether Musharraf’s absence will cause a shift in the newly elected government’s dynamic, considering that the PPP and PML-N have historically been bitter political rivals.
Of the new cabinet, the key leaders are: Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar (who CHUP interviewed recently), Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, and, of course, PM Gilani.

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mirza.jpgPakistan will elect its first female speaker of the National Assembly today, news sources reported. According to Bloomberg, Fehmida Mirza was nominated for the position by the Pakistan People’s Party, (PPP) and will run against Muhammad Israr Tarin, the candidate from the PML-Q. The outgoing speaker, Chaudhry Amir Hussain, will call the vote at 1100 (PST). Mirza is a seasoned politician from Benazir Bhutto‘s hometown in Sindh. Her husband, Zulfiqar Mirza, is “a long standing ally of Asif Ali Zardari,” the BBC reported. Fehmida Mirza currently sits in the Sindh provincial assembly.
Media outlets reporting on the development underscored the significance of a potential female NA speaker. The News noted, “Never before in the history of Pakistan’s National Assembly were the words “Madam Speaker” uttered. It will be for the first time that the chair will be addressed as “Madam Speaker”, another first added by the PPP to the political lexicon.” The Pak Tribune framed the “nomination and almost certain election” of Mirza in light of the broader debate over who will be appointed Prime Minister of the country. The news source noted the development “has practically sealed the fate of Makhdoom Amin Fahim and his aspirations to become the prime minister of Pakistan.” A prominent PPP member told the media, “There is not even an iota of doubt left now that the PPP`s prime ministerial nominee will be from the majority province [Punjab].” Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, a possible candidate, said that if the speaker is from Sindh, “the prime minister would be from the Punjab.” According to the Tribune, Mukhtar believes “this is quite obvious.” As has been reported before, the PPP is reportedly meant to announce their PM candidate this week. Until then, there are abundant speculations among media outlets on the possible outcome.
UPDATE: Mirza defeated Israr Tarin “easily” in a vote that was carried out by secret ballot. She reportedly received 249 out of 324 votes. Tarin only received 70. Following her win, Mirza told reporters, “It is one thing to sit in opposition, but this chair carries big responsibility … I am feeling that responsibility today and will, God willing, come up to expectations.”

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protests.jpgOn Monday, Pakistan inaugurated its new Parliament that the Associated Press noted was “dominated by opponents of President Pervez Musharraf who have vowed to crimp his powers and review his U.S.-backed policies against Islamic militants.” The news agency added,  “At stake is the future course and political stability of this nuclear-armed nation of 160 million people, which is struggling with economic problems as well as militants linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.” There have been several bombings in the past three days, including the attack on Luna Caprese in Islamabad Saturday and a bomb blast on a police building in northwest Pakistan that killed three officers and wounded five. These attacks have further exacerbated perceptions of the worsening security situation and have added increasing pressure to the new government to quell this problem. According to Reuters, security was “tight” at the Pakistani Parliament on Monday, “with police and paramilitary soldiers guarding the complex and restricting traffic on the avenue outside.” In the brief ceremony, more than 300 MNAs (325 out of the 342 members) were sworn into office. Interestingly, Reuters noted the MNAs actually took oath under an old, democratic constitution, not the version Musharraf amended after he imposed emergency rule in November. The news agency further labeled this, “a sign of looming confrontation with the isolated president.”  The News added in its coverage that the 13th National Assembly session will be now adjourned until March 19th.
According to the Associated Press, Musharraf “stayed away” from the session, while PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif watched the proceedings from the gallery. PML-N lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal told reporters that their presence showed that “the people of Pakistan have rejected” Musharraf. Earlier in the day, Zardari asserted, “This is our first step. We have conveyed a message to the world community to support democracy, which defeats dictatorship.”
However,  the continuing struggle for the Prime Minister position, wrought with ambiguity, overshadowed this strong rhetoric emphasizing democratic ideals and progress. According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, “The body language at Monday’s sitting could give some indication about the strength of Ms. [Benazir] Bhutto’s own stated original choice for the office, PPP senior vice-chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim or any potential challenger favored by her spouse and party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, or about whether Mr. Zardari would himself take the job for which he must win a National Assembly seat in a by-election.” The news agency added, “The issue of a prime minister’s choice has stolen part of the limelight from some of the other major issues of concern to the new assembly such as the potential face-off with the president over the coalition’s promise to restore about 60 superior court judges he sacked under his controversial Nov 3, 2007 emergency and the problems for the new government ranging from tackling militant violence to the citizens’ acute issues of bread and butter.” The PPP has promised to announce its PM candidate this week, before Musharraf calls a new session to elect a prime minister, which could potentially be delayed until next week.

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