Archive for the ‘Sharif’ Category

Pakistan: President Diminished, Rival Triumphant

March 16, 2009

The promised reinstatement of Pakistan‘s chief justice defused a protest movement threatening the U.S.-allied government, but it could still spell trouble for the country’s struggling president.

The army is said to have directed President Asif Ali Zardari to defuse the developing showdown with opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and lawyers leading a column of protesters toward the capital Sunday night.

But by yielding to demands to restore judges fired by former military ruler and U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf, Zardari may have strengthened democracy in the nuclear-armed nation as it faces daunting security and economic challenges.

“Never before in Pakistan’s political history have you had people standing up for the rule of law, for the constitution,” said Nasim Zehra, a political and defense analyst. “Civil society has won out.”

Musharraf ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in 2007 after he blocked a privatization deal, investigated the fate of hundreds of people allegedly held incognito by security agencies, and even questioned the legality of the ex-general’s rule.

But the move backfired as lawyers, rights activists, liberal media pundits — as well as the general’s political opponents — mounted a dogged campaign for an independent judiciary that turned the dour, mustachioed judge into an unlikely democratic icon.

The very same constellation has now humbled Zardari.

The slaying of former premier Benazir Bhutto catapulted her Pakistan People’s Party into power last year. Zardari, who took over his wife’s party and became president, forged a coalition with Sharif. The alliance collapsed as the two wrangled for power and Zardari reneged on a pledge to restore Chaudhry.

Sharif joined the opposition, but last month the Supreme Court ruled that he and his brother Shahbaz were inelegible for elected office. Zardari then dismissed the government Shahbaz led in Punjab, the most powerful Pakistani province.

Nawaz Sharif — who defied house arrest to participate in Sunday’s demonstration — accused Zardari of a power grab and urged his supporters to join lawyers and other activists planning to march on the capital, re-energizing the movement.

Zardari’s tough line also opened rifts in his party, which could weaken his grip and force him to pass on to Parliament some of the sweeping presidential powers accumulated by Musharraf, analysts said. He has pledged to give up the right to dissolve the assemblies and fire the government — but taken no concrete steps to do it.

“Zardari has come out badly bruised,” said Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani commentator. “He has managed to survive, but his power has certainly been curtailed.”

Sharif, in contrast, has emerged triumphant.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090
316/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_analysis

http://albanylawlibrary.wordpress.c
om/2009/03/16/this-just-in/

Pakistan: Circling The Drain?

March 12, 2009

Pakistan is key to America’s efforts to end global terrorism — and to prevent acts like September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York and the Pentagon.

Pakistan harbors terrorists: maybe even Osama bin Laden.  Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

And Pakistan may be circling the drain.

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By Imtiaz Shah
Reuters

Hundreds of black-suited Pakistani lawyers and flag-waving opposition activists launched a cross-country protest on Thursday, as the year-old civilian coalition government scrambled for ways to avert a showdown.

The movement for an independent judiciary could destabilize President Asif Ali Zardari’s government at a time when the nuclear-armed U.S. ally faces severe problems from Islamist militants and a sinking economy.

Police detained hundreds of political activists on Wednesday, and banned rallies. But Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said on Thursday the so-called long march that set out from the cities of Karachi and Quetta would be allowed to go ahead.

“We’ll not stop them, but if someone tries to take the law in his hand I must say in the house that he won’t be allowed,” Malik told the National Assembly.

“This is a war for power and rule and unless we get out of this sphere, such things will keep on happening.”

Opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has thrown his weight behind the lawyers, putting him into open confrontation with Zardari.

Infuriated by a Supreme Court ruling barring him and his brother from elected office, and by Zardari ejecting his party from power in Punjab province and imposing central rule, Sharif has called the protest a defining moment for Pakistan.

Pakistani lawyers and members of civil rights movement march ... 
Pakistani lawyers and members of civil rights movement march along a street as they take part in a demonstration in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, March 12, 2009. Protesters vowed Thursday to press ahead with a major march onto Pakistan’s parliament in defiance of bans and hundreds of arrests by a government that has come increasingly under fire from its critics. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Stoking tension in a country with a grim record of assassinations, a spokesman for Sharif said the government had “hatched a plot” to kill him.

Zardari’s spokesman dismissed that as “political gimmickry” and said the Sharif bothers had been promised full security.

Pakistan is vital to U.S. efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan and defeat al Qaeda. The United States wants Pakistan to focus on fighting militancy rather than on political power plays.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20
090312/wl_nm/us_pakistan_protest