Tag Archives: PML-N

Nawaz Sharif: A Statesman or a Compulsive Liar?

It was the afternoon of March 25, 2010. We were waiting for the session convening notification from presidency since the summary requisitioning the Joint session of the parliament had gone to the President at around 11:30 am earlier in the day. Normally it takes only couple of hours that the summary is approved by the President, faxed to the Speaker’s chamber / Secretary to the National Assembly who acts as the presiding officer for the Joint Parliamentary Session.

Why we were waiting for this important fascimile from president’s office was, this joint session had to be a historical one. After more than three decades, the spirit of provincial autonomy and sovereignty of the Parliament had to come back through a parliamentary committee’s recommended Constitutional Reforms Package. This package was to be passed by two third majority of the Houses separately. The reason everyone wa so sure of this much awaited development, to happen on March 25 was that every political player openly expressed its satisfaction over the constitutional package, which so surely appeared as the first ever consensus constitutional amendment document after the 1973 constitution itself.
Continuously in touch my source in the National Assembly, who appeared to be quite bored of my repeated phone calls, I stuck myself to TV Screen and laptop.When finally I contacted Speaker’s chamber directly at around 4:45 pm, for my entrance pass for the historic joint session, I got a rather unexpected answer. The official at the other end of phone line informed me that there’s was no summary for “tomorrow’s joint session” and asked me where did I get the news from, for any such session?

WHAT? Now I was sure there’s something going on in Islamabad, which none of us would be expecting. The summary was moved this morning, and was not only confirmed by our source in PM secretariat, but also couple of senior journalists who cover Parliament since long. We were, unofficially though, confirmed by all these sources that the summary has been faxed to the Presidency at around 11 – 11:30 am. And now Speaker’s Chamber tells us there was no plan for holding the session! What it could be? Despite my repeated attempts to call PML-N mid-level leadership, I could not get them. Confused and disappointed I tried to focus on what I was writing. And heck. There was the ticker going under the newscaster telling that the Session was postponed!

Whatever had happened must be disastrous, I thought. Pakhtunkhwah? But no, only this late morning, an internal meeting of PML-N had unanimously decided to vote for Pakhtunkhwah, according to a private news channel. Then what? The riddle soon was solved by Mian Nawaz Sharif, the Quaid of Muslim League Nawaz who held a press conference at 6 pm only to tell people that his party did not agree with the constitutional amendments the Committee for Constitutional Reforms (CCR) had come up with.

Little did he care for the questions he was evading, that arose from this sudden U-turn. The bizarreness of his pretexts to go back on his own words was so obvious and ugly that one was left wondering about how opportunist Pakistan’s politics had become! Thanks to the frequently coming boots, with the pet food they bring for shortsighted politicians, who are now completely unable to think beyond their petty personal interest.

What I did not understand from Mian sahib’s long face and sore argument, is not one point. Its a whole host of factors that come in.

ONE: He said he and his party did not agree with the constitutional reforms package in toto. The question arises, why couldn’t he and his party members tell this simple fact to the media and the Committee itself? They had consented in letter and spirit less than twenty hours ago and even till 11 am on the day of the press conference. Its a matter of common sense that the Prime Minister had not moved the session requisition summary to the President for the joint session, without taking into confidence biggest opposition party!

TWO: Mian sahib totally evaded the question on the name of Pakhtunkhwah and tilted the controversy towards the mechanism of Judges’ appointment issue. His own party members had on record told the media hours earlier, that the CCR had reached the consensus on Judges’ appointment issue.

THREE: Throughout the day on March 25, prior to the press conference, Islamabad’s offices were echoing with different kinds of news about the internal meeting of PML-N discussing the name of Pakhtunkhwah. There was absolutely no question about the judicial appointments that came to any discussion anywhere. Does that mean Mina Nawaz Sharif was lying with the people when he said in the Press Conference that the only major disagreement was on judicial appointments?

FOUR: In the Press Conference and after wards, Mian Nawaz Sharif kept saying that “the intent of making this committee was mala fide because we wanted to scrap the 17th amendment and the government linked it to other issues, only to delay”. May I remind Mian sahib that the Terms of Reference for the Committee were finalized with mutual consent, which was sought by the Speaker through Leaders of Opposition in national Assembly and the Senate. Secondly, why Mian sahib always choose to be dishonest with people so blatantly? Total scrap of 17th amendment was never in discussion. In fact, it was quite clear what all the parties unanimously agree to keep / remove from the 17th amendment. This amendment has many usefull clauses on which no sane person can disagree. These include reserved seats for women and minorities and voting age of 18 years among many others.

Mian sahib’s selective amnesia doesn’t even allow him to recall that most of Pakistan’s problems emanate from center’s refusal to grant provinces their rights. When he says that scrap of 17th amendment was simple just because it affects him and only him personally, but the provincial autonomy is too complex to discuss because it has no bearing on his person but has far reaching effects on people?

So, may we deduce that Mian sahib was lying to the people when he said that Committee’s linking with overall constitutional amendment was mala fide?

FIVE: Mian sahib in his landmark press conference (for which historian is never going to be able to forgive him if he doesn’t rectify it by immediate action), also said that he had major disagreement on judicial appointments. He was however, not able to tell, what those differences were, and why he did not voice those differences when he gave a go-ahead to the requisitioning of the Joint Session few hours ago? Was he lying to the nation?

SIX: Mian sahib told the media in the press conference that the government has taken out his party’s recommendations from the final document. He could not specify those recommendations niether could his party members in March 26 meeting of the Committee. Was he again, lying to the nation?

SEVEN: In March 26 meeting of the Committee, the members from other parties took PML-N to task and demanded what their reservations were, and why those reservations were not presented to the COmmittee before making them public through the Press Conference. The PML-N members had no answer. A feeble voice from Ahsan Iqbal told that the reservation was about the name of Pakhtunkhwah. Oh well. But Mian sahib in his press conference said it was due to judges appointment!

Are the people gone nuts or the PML-N and its leadership is insulting people by telling as many lies as they can?

EIGHT: Why PML-N thinks that it can override the decision of people’s representatives from the province under discussion? ANP being the overwhelmingly largest supported party in Pakhtunkhwah, had been able to complete the process of consultation at provincial level and brought the decision of the people of Pakhtunkhwah, to the CCR much earlier than March 25 press conference. What moral grounds Punjab’s PML-N has to defy so shamelessly the wishes of the people of Pakhtunkhwah? Is it because Mian sahib’s son in law comes from the non-Pakhtun area of Pakhtunkhwah? Or is it because Mian sahib’s right hand and prominent member of CCR Sardar Mehtab Abbasi is also against the name Pakhtunkhwah? Is the Royal Son In Law more important than the majority of Pakhtunkwah Province?

Is Mian sahib that entangled in personal politics in addition to being a compulsive liar?

NINE: This biggest achievement of current parliament having come up with a consensus document for constitutional reforms, was to give a huge moral boost to the President who had to address the joint session right after the announcement of the package. Was that the reason of Mian sahib’s sudden change of mind? This further is confirmed by March 26 statements of PML-N party leaders who have been asking for presidential address as soon as possible, in accordance with the constitution which asks for presidential address in the beginning of every parliamentary year. is it smart politics?

Is Mian Sahib still not able to learn from his frictional politics of 1990s?

TEN: Mian sahib had been extremely concerned about the Charter of Democracy and President Zardari’s “going back on his words” and “not keeping promises” – whereas one is at loss on making out the details of what promises Mian sahib has been talking about? If it was Judges’ issue, it was resolved as early as March 2009. What other promises he always rants about?

But keeping it aside for a moment, lets come to the charter of democracy. People would be interested to learn, which clauses of the Charter are not being observed by which party? PML-N has been insisting on the mechanism of judges’ appointment in total departure from not only the charter but from all democratic norms of Parliament’s sovereignty and the constitutional guarantee of the separation of powers. Whose agenda is he serving?

ELEVEN: And last but not the least. Mian Nawaz Sharif was much bothered about the constitutional amendment introduced by Pervez Musharraf, but is not moved an inch on the black laws introduced by General Zia ul Haq, the most ferocious of the dictators of Pakistan whose doings have assisted Musharraf in making of the Pakistan what it is today.

Mian sahib was quite passionate about the 17th amendment, and that too, its clause which deals with the presidential power of dissolving the assemblies and the clause that bars third time premiership. But the 8th amendment never occurred to him as the one introduced by a dictator. Why? Is it because that doesn’t hit him personally but hammers the people at large?

Why Mian Nawaz Sharif is doing such a blatantly personal politics? Painting himself as a pious statesmen? Putting himself at highest moral pedestal to point finger on other leaders of this country?

Is Mian Sahib a statesman or a compulsive liar? Why he should not be altogether shunned by the people?

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You're Being Watched Mushy Baby!

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This article was published in The Post in October, 2007 after the NRO promulgation. I've posted it here just as a record of history.

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As Pakistan treads through most dangerous decade of its political history, people keep witnessing densely shaded political kaleidoscope. Things have been especially precarious during past one week. Amid an intense public desire for the judiciary to play its independent role in country’s political well being, the apex court passed a judgment not very popular. Nothing could have been a surer recipe for political chaos than an adamant soldier to get re-elected as president, somersaulting politicians, a rubber-stamp parliament, a puppet executive, a divided judiciary and confused public.

 

Life has never been bed of roses for Pakistan’s uniformed president, General Pervez Musharraf after March 9, 2007 when top judge refused to succumb to the pressure exerted by the government to leave office. Invigorated by people’s support, judiciary risked going against the will of the government and first time in Pakistan’s history, people got an inkling of judiciary’s independence. Under the hang-over of a successful campaign for the restoration of Chief Justice of Pakistan, lawyers’ community announced to launch a campaign for the restoration of “true democracy” and for a president without uniform. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the aged leader of extreme right winged orthodox religio-political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, joined hands with Imran Khan the only MP from Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf, for filing a petition against the election of president in uniform in the apex court. mush

 

Once again, people’s heightened expectations from recently got “independence” of judiciary bucked up the lawyers to make the petition a rallying point. On September 29, 2007 however, the Supreme Court saved the day for Musharraf by dismissing both the petitions on “technical grounds” for not being maintainable.  Lawyers and civil society, intrigued but not disappointed by this judicial drama stretched through the past two weeks, vowed to fight the battle through the Election Commission of Pakistan. “The decision of the apex court that the petitions challenging General Pervez Musharraf’s taking part in presidential election in uniform is not maintainable, might be on the grounds that it was premature as at the time of filing the petition General Musharraf had not filed his nomination papers as presidential candidate before the Election Commission,” Justice (Retd) Fakhruddin G Ibrahim said and added “In fact, nothing has been decided still and all issues raised in different petitions will be challenged again in a more effective manner now”.

 

The lawyers, now immersed in political game, announced their candidate for presidential race. Justice (Retd.) Wajihuddin Ahmad, a respected former judge who had to leave office when he refused to take oath under notorious Provisional Constitutional Order introduced by Musharraf immediately after his taking office of the Chief Executive of Pakistan. Proposed and seconded by religious parties’ alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Wajihuddin filed his nomination papers on September 27. Things went more baffling when Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) nominated Makhdoom Ameen Faheem as its Presidential candidate.

 

All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM), an alliance of opposition parties minus PPP, went on with their decision of resigning from the National Assembly and dissolution of NWFP Provincial Assembly, where MMA, a prominent member of APDM, was in power. The decision has not been an easier one for Jamiat-e-Ulamai Islam Fazlur Rehman group (JUI-F), a coalescing unit of MMA. Posed with potent threats of internal rifts that might amount to its ultimate breakage, MMA parleys took just too long to decide about the resignations issue. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the JUI Chief, popularly dubbed as ‘soft opposition’ and ‘the king of double talk’, went head over heals to convince party mates not to resign. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) leader, however, took it as a threat to his party’s credibility and insisted on resignations as decided by the All Parties Conference convened in early July by Mian Nawaz Sharif.

 

The complex political horizon got thickened by PPP’s resolve to support democracy by negotiating with the General for a broader national reconciliation – a move completely un-understandable by Pakistan’s politicians whose politics revolve around trumpeting superficial political morality. Little can they sense that an all powerful military general cannot be pushed to give off power, unless is negotiated. While PML-N chief did not stop cooing the song of “threatened democracy” by Bhutto’s talking to the General, BB kept on playing table talk with the dictator’s front men for a national consensus formula that would include her three point agenda; ONE: repealing the constitutional amendment that includes bar on third term of the Prime Minister and 58-2(b); TWO: dismissal of all corruption cases on politicians, which were registered by successive political regimes against each other in their bid to eliminate opposing party from the political scene of the country, since 1985; and THREE: doffing off of the uniform by the president alongside bringing electoral reforms to ensure free and fair elections in transparent manner.

 

In an unexpected move from the presidency on October 2, withdrawal of all politically motivated cases against many politicians and thousands of non-political victims was announced. The announcement was also made nominating General Ishfaq Pervez Kiani, former spy chief, as Chief of Army Staff, which is being discussed in all drawing room discussions as being Bhutto’s recommendation, since Kiyani is said to have a “good working relationship” with Benzir Bhutto. The next day, Maulana Fazlur Rehman together with fellow clerics resigned from the National Assembly. His clever move of announcing dissolution of provincial Assembly on September 29, almost four days before the scheduled dissolution, gave government enough time to move a No-Confidence Motion against the MMA Chief Minister (According to the Constitution, a Chief Minister cannot dissolve the Assembly if a No-Confidence Motion comes against him). Exactly according to the expectations, the Provincial Assembly opposition members (the ruling party at federal level) filed a No-Confidence motion. To counter which, smart strategy should have been to take a vote of confidence next day and go for dissolution. On the contrary, the Chief Minister adjourned the session till Oct 8 – two days after the presidential polls.

 

Benazir Bhutto, meanwhile, successfully crossed all milestones of negotiations with the General and agreed on a “National Reconciliation” Formula in lieu of which, PPP would not resign from the parliament thus ensuring a legitimacy of presidential polls and giving the General a space to give off something as a gesture of reciprocating. A politically sagacious Bhutto has shown a farsightedness par excellence in that only this kind of give and take could make a long serving dictator give off maximum of his power to political actors.

 

A National Assembly Session was heard to be summoned on Oct 3, but was delayed due to ongoing parleys with Bhutto. As a successful breakthrough on these parleys could lead to hurried issuance of an Ordinance, which can only be done when Parliament is not in session, the National Assembly session was delayed for two more days. 

 

As a confident president calmly announces his resolve to contest presidential elections while in uniform, and working on post election business details with Bhutto, Justice ®Wajihuddin Ahmad, another presidential hopeful, moves a petition to the Supreme Court for a stay on presidential elections. After three days of rigorous debate, the court adjourned on Oct 5, a day prior to the elections, to Oct 17 refusing a stay on elections and barring any announcement of results till Oct 17. The decision makes both sides happy and hopeful. It seems that the newly freed judiciary is not yet ready to do away with doctrine of necessity. It has generated an unbearable disappointment among those sections of civil society, who were hoping the judiciary will now be able to play its long awaited role for strengthening democracy.

 

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is left alone by JI, its coalescing partner after a rift over resigning from the provincial Assembly of NWFP. While Maulana was facing sheer opposition from his own party members against resigning from NWFP Assembly,  he was consoled by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the top leader of the ruling Muslim League who issued orders to his party men in the Provincial Assembly of NWFP to withdraw the No-Confidence motion. It has taken all the air from the Opposition balloon, leaving JI and Nawaz League as a shaky opponent.

 

As these lines are written and presidency has announced a National Reconciliation Ordinance, right wing politicians powered by a short sighted civil society and media are raising hue and cry on the Ordinance. People are being dragged to believe that the Ordinance is something which is going to give way to corruption in country. Little can we realize, had this move not been there, Musharraf would be keeping on with his unbridled power despite newly found alliance of media and civil society.

 

The life seems bed of roses for powers that be, which have traditionally been against the idea of a pro-people polity in the country. Bhutto being the only hope for people right now, is giving unflinching signs of returning back home. It is hoped that people of Pakistan would see the events with greater maturity, rather than being manipulated by the media hostage to the designs of establishment.

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NRO Actually! (1st Instalment of Truth)

NRO collage aBefore I write something about my own personal take on NRO and its legitimacy, I would like to analyze what it actually is and what it is about. While we hear a lot about in the media (generally biased against one party or the other), it is all the more necessary to look into what this word NRO means, what document it is and what it means to the politics in Pakistan. Since the writing could take many pages, and I’m doing it in detail clause by clause, I think we should make it easier for the reader to grasp the information in easiest possible way.

I would apologize from my lawyer friends for not writing this piece in a way they are used to read legislations in. And it is mainly because this piece is intended to serve lay people instead of technical professionals in the field of law. I would try my best to refrain from the legal jargon as far as it is possible. Even then, if there’s something beyond the understanding of a common person (me included), I would request the reader to kindly bring it in the comments so that we could collectively try to understand it. For the purpose of making the continuity easy, I’m calling these pieces “Instalments of Truth”, and this is the first instalment!

I often hear and read comments by lay-persons, saying that NRO was “signed” by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Now, here’s where the folly lies! NRO is an abbreviated form of National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007, which is a piece of legislation. Legislation, as we all know, is a forte of the parliament in a parliamentary democracy like Pakistan. Pakistan, like many other nation satates, follows West Minster style of parliamentary system (UK, India, Australia, Canada to name few of the parliaments that follow West Minster). There is a corresponding system of government, commonly called Jeffersonian Parliaments, commonly called Presidential form of government (mainly USA). In a West Minster style parliamentary system like the one followed by Pakistan, President is the ceremonial head of the state, who has limited role in legislation.

According to the powers conferred upon the president, by the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, the President can issue an Ordinance as a piece of legislation when the Parliament is not sitting. Exercising the same power, General (now retired) Pervaiz Musharraf issued an ordinance called National Reconciliation Ordinance 2007, commonly known as NRO. Since it was an Ordinance, it was signed by the President of Pakistan, not by any political party sitting outside the government at that point in time. It is however, debatable, how this ordinance came into being. Without getting into the details of its origin for the time being, we’d go to what it says. The readers can refer to the original text of the NRO wherever s/he deems necessary, which I’ve already put on one of my blogs under the link: http://marvi-sirmed.blogspot.com/2009/10/national-reconciliation-ordinance-2007.html

The Ordinance has seven distinct Sections. Section I deals with the title of the Ordinance as is the usual practice of drafting a legislation.

Section II deals with an amendment in the Criminal Procedures Code (CrPC), which has been there since 1898. This Section of NRO amends section 494 of the CrPC, which empowered only the Prosecutor Generals to withdraw pending Criminal cases. After the amendment introduced by NRO, the Boards at Federal and Provincial Levels could be constituted to review the cases pending from 1st January 1986 to 12 October 1999.  These Boards will see if the accused persons in these cases have been falsely involved in these cases on politically motivated reasons. In this case, the Review Boards thus created, can recommend withdrawal of cases to the respected governments.

These Review Boards would be of two types: Provincial and Federal. The Provincial Boards will be chaired by respectable retired Judges of High Courts and will comprise Advocate General / Prosecutor General and the Provincial Law Secretaries. The Federal Board will be chaired by a retired judge of the Supreme Court and will have Attorney General and Federal Law Secretary as its member, while both of these Boards would be appointed by federal and provincial governments as the case may be.

It is noteworthy here that NRO does not bind the federal and provincial governments to act upon the recommendations of the Review Boards. So, if any of the government doesn’t want to withdraw any of the cases, there’s no binding on them to comply with the Boards’ recommendations. In other words, the status of the Boards is recommendatory, not obligatory. It should also be noted here that this particular clause was included on the insistence of MQM, who was part of discussions made on such legislation. The dates mentioned in this section provide cover to the criminal cases made on MQM during the period from 1986 to 1999.

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