Provincialism Perturbs Pakistan :: Growing Tension & Terrorism :: Pakistan before Partition

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Zardari fighting democracy, not terrorism: Sharif

13 Mar 2009, 1840 hrs IST, PTI // Times of India .

ISLAMABAD: Accusing Asif Ali Zardari of fighting democracy rather than terrorism plaguing Pakistan, former Premier Nawaz Sharif has claimed that the President had offered him a deal on the basis of “give and take” before the removal of his PML-N party-led government in Punjab.
Sharif, whose PML-N is backing the long march launched by the lawyers’ movement to pressurise Zardari’s ruling PPP to reinstate judges sacked during the 2007 emergency rule, however, said he is not trying to bring down the government.

“I am not trying to dislodge the government at all,” he told Dawn News channel in an interview, adding the PML-N wants to “restore the rule of law and to reinstate the judges who stood against” former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Charging Zardari with fighting democracy and not terrorism, the two-time former premier said that the power of the people will bring about a change in Pakistan. This would happen within a few days or a few years, he said.

A decision has to be made by the nation, which is at the crossroads, and this decision would be vital for the future of country, he said.

Sharif claimed that PML-N government in Punjab could have been saved if he and his brother Shahbaz, ex-Chief Minister of the province, “had come to terms with Mr Zardari and if we had accepted his so-called deal on the basis of give and take.”

Such a move would have also prevented the Supreme Court’s judgement barring him and his brother from contesting polls and holding public offices, he claimed.

“Mr Zardari said very clearly to Mr Shahbaz Sharif in the presence of (former) minister Raza Rabbani that let’s make a deal,” Sharif said, adding his conscience would not allow him to sacrifice principles for personal interests.

Both Sharif and Shahbaz have accused Zardari of influencing a Supreme Court order last month. Following the court’s verdict, Zardari imposed Governor’s Rule in Punjab.

The PML-N then decided to back the lawyers’ long march that is scheduled to culminate with a sit-in near Parliament here on March 16.

Sharif also said that he was not aware of any package being worked on by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for reconciliation between the PML-N and ruling PPP

Asked if he had unnecessarily raised the political temperature by calling for a revolution, Sharif replied: “I don’t think so. I think I have been talking the right things. I have no personal motive. I am not going to become the Prime Minister if the long march succeeds.”

The PML-N had wanted to usher in changes “without staging a long march” but the need for the protest “arose when Mr Zardari refused to honour his commitments (and) to fulfil his obligations,” Sharif said.

The PML-N had joined hands with the PPP to form the government after the general election in February last year. Within months, the PML-N pulled out of the coalition after accusing Zardari of reneging on promises to reinstate judges sacked by Musharraf.

Now a stage has come that nothing is happening and everything was still going peacefully till about two weeks ago when Mr Zardari got a judgement from these courts that the lawyers’ community and civil society is struggling against,” Sharif said, referring to the apex court’s verdict against him and his brother.

Noting that any violence will be “counter-productive”, Sharif said “they cannot prevent the long march. And even if they temporarily do, the long march will emerge again. I don’t think these people will (stop) unless and until the judges and the independence of the judiciary is reinstated.”

He criticised the government for launching a crackdown to thwart the long march. Lawyers and opposition political parties have said that over 1,000 people have been detained across the country since Tuesday.

Sharif also said a multi-pronged approach is needed to tackle extremism in Pakistan. Religious extremism needs to be addressed in a sensible manner and a “meaningful dialogue” should be held to defuse the sentiment supporting extremism, he said.

Pakistan’s Lockdown

EDITORIAL COMMENT // Times of India // 13 Mar 2009, 0008 hrs IST

The contrast couldn’t be more striking. On the one hand, the Pakistani Government readily acceded to a truce with the Taliban in Swat, allowing the state’s authority to wither in the face of organised banditry from the Taliban. Islamabad also responded to a compelling body of evidence linking 26/11 to terrorists on Pakistani soil with a mix of legalese and dilatoriness. But on the other hand, the government has cracked down swiftly on lawyers and opposition activists intent on taking out a ‘long march’ to Islamabad. It has placed hundreds of them under arrest and banned any gathering of more than four people in Punjab and Sind.

To be sure, Nawaz Sharif and other opposition leaders have been addressing rallies calling for a ‘revolution’ to dethrone President Asif Zardari. But Zardari’s tactics suggest uncomfortable parallels with Pervez Musharraf, who accumulated extraordinary powers around the presidency when he held the post. Presidential powers such as the ability to sack parliament are unconscionable in a parliamentary system and lead to systemic weakness and instability in Pakistan’s political institutions. Zardari promised to rescind those powers but hasn’t delivered. His government’s order banning rallies will also invite comparison with Musharraf’s imposition of emergency in 2007.

New Delhi has no leverage, whatsoever, in Pakistan. But the world, at large, must stand behind a return to constitutional and democratic processes in Pakistan. Although there are strong rumours of an army coup General Kayani, the current army chief, has stayed out of politics so far and may not be too keen to return as another Musharraf avatar so soon after Musharraf flamed out. In case he is keen, he must be severely discouraged from that line of thinking.

The world must also stop trying to pick winners in Pakistan. Sharif has poor relations with the army as well as with western powers. The US, in particular, sees Sharif as suspiciously close to the Islamist parties. But the Swat surrender is evidence Zardari hasn’t been strong either in terms of taking on fundamentalists. Anyone who comes to and retains power through a democratic process, on the other hand, would have to be accountable for public welfare, which provides the international community with enough pressure points to work with that person. Sharif, at this point, seems more popular than any other leader in Pakistan. But policy cannot be person-specific. It shouldn’t give the impression of playing favourites but engage whoever comes out on top through a constitutional process.

Amid crackdown, USA backs Pak freedom of speech

Sharif sees no coup

Press Trust of India // The Statesman.

ISLAMABAD, March 12: Former Premier Mr Nawaz Sharif, who was overthrown in a military coup in 1999, has said the chances of an army takeover of the country are “absolutely nil”. Pakistan police today baton-charged and arrested political activists and lawyers, who defied a ban on demonstrations to set-out on a long march to the capital Islamabad to force the government to reinstate the sacked judges. Among those arrested were Mr Ghafoor Ahmed, Vice President of Jamaat-e-Islami and Mr Athar Minallah, leader of the local bar Association. At the worsening political situation in Pakistan, the USA said that political parties should refrain from violence but added that Islamabad must respect freedom of speech, expression and assembly.
Amid Pakistan’s crackdown on Opposition activists and ban on rallies, Mr Sharif, said his PML-N party will go ahead with its long march for restoration of the justices despite a crackdown launched by authorities. At an interview with CNN-IBN, Mr Sharif, who has locked horns with President Asif Ali Zardari over the issue of reinstatement of sacked judges, said that talks with President Zardari are possible only after he reinstates the judges as promised earlier. “There is a massive credibility gap and trust deficit between Zardari and us. By offering talks, the government is only buying time. The government has not done anything to undo what the ‘kangaroo’ courts have done,” he said.
Tensions between the former allies escalated after the Supreme Court recently barred Mr Sharif and his brother Mr Shahbaz from contesting polls and holding public offices, resulting in Mr Shahbaz’s removal as chief minister of Punjab province, where Governor’s rule was also imposed.
“The President got the Supreme Court to make me and Shahbaz Sharif ineligible to contest elections and further went ahead to impose Governor’s rule in Punjab when there was no breakdown of law and order in the state,” the two-time former premier told the channel. Meanwhile, Pakistan government today said former premier Mr Nawaz Sharif along with his brother Mr Shahbaz would be provided with VVIP-level security in view of “serious threats” to their lives, shortly after the Opposition PML-N chief accused the “high-ranking” officials of plotting to kill him. Vowing to join the marchers in Lahore, Mr Sharif accused the government of plotting to kill him, but said he won’t be deterred to bring back Pakistan on the road to democracy.
Asked if the deepening political crisis will open the door for the USA to intervene, he said “there is absolutely no need for international intervention and we are capable of restoring order in our house.”

Pak on edge, US tries for truce

The Telegraph, Kolkata : March 13, 2009

Islamabad, March 12 (Agencies): Opposition activists and lawyers today set off on a cross-country protest march in Pakistan amid a crackdown that stirred memories of the confrontation that eventually led to the ouster of former President Pervez Musharraf.
The latest showdown is threatening to destabilise the one-year-old Asif Ali Zardari government at a time of rising militant violence. If the crisis gets out of hand, the army could feel compelled to intervene, though analysts have little expectation that Pakistan would revert to military rule so soon.
Several layers of back-channel efforts, including one by the US ambassador, to break the deadlock have been reported and some hints of compromise have been dropped over the past two days. However, till late this evening, there has been little sign of a solution.
US ambassador Anne Patterson met Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bid to resolve the crisis. President Barack Obama’s special envoy Richard Holbrooke is also learnt to have spoken to Zardari.
The Pakistan government offered talks on Sharif’s key demands — restoration of independent judges and his brother’s government in Punjab — but the Opposition refused to relent till this evening.
The government fears that the protests are aimed at toppling Zardari because the march has brought together many of the same groups that helped push Musharraf from the presidency last September. The then protests built steadily after Musharraf, then both the President and the army chief, dismissed the chief justice.
The Opposition feels that Zardari has refused to reinstate former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry as the judge could nullify an amnesty Musharraf granted the President and his late wife Benazir Bhutto.
The civilian government has banned public rallies, arrested hundreds of political workers and police clashed with some protesters.
But the government said it was not against the so-called “long march” that seeks to converge on Islamabad on Monday.
Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik said the long march that set out from the cities of Karachi and Quetta would be allowed to go ahead.
Sharif’s spokesperson Sadiqul Farooq said ambassador Patterson was “trying to get things resolved” between the Opposition and the government. “It is not only the American ambassador, other friendly countries are in contact.”
As the march got under way, a coalition partner said Zardari had agreed to two Opposition demands, without giving details. In another sign of possible compromise, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said late yesterday, after meeting the army chief, the government wanted central rule in Punjab to end.
The protests are expected to gather strength as people in Punjab — Sharif’s political power base — setoff for the capital over the weekend.
A spokesperson for Sharif said the government had “hatched a plot” to kill him. Zardari’s spokesperson dismissed that as “political gimmickry” and said the Sharif bothers had been promised full security.

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4 Responses to “Provincialism Perturbs Pakistan :: Growing Tension & Terrorism :: Pakistan before Partition”

  1. Tanusree Pathak Says:

    The Situation of Pakistan is Really Bad.
    In this situation India should take strong steps to check cross border terrorism gradually endengering the Integrety and Security of India.
    And this is the high time to take control over the Pak Occupied kashmir.
    If India stands stricts before the fundamentalists in India, our counterpart will also follow us. It should be the dutifulness and the responsibilities of a good neighbour.

  2. MATIUR Says:

    Yes, Poverty & Provincialism are the two major factors for the present troubles in Pakistan. And these are embeded with Islamic Fanaticism.
    There are conflicts between Sindhi and Muhajirs , Punjabis and Baluchis and Islamabad and POK and so on.
    Since independece of Pakistan in 1947, the Punjabis are the rulling force in Pakistan and they have been neglecting the development and participation of other provinces.
    Pakistan’s 170 million people are divided into six main ethnic groups; Punjabi (44.7 percent), Pashtun (15.4 percent), Sindhi (14.1 percent), Siraiki (8.4 percent), Muhajirs (7.6 percent), and Balochi (3.6 percent). Some of these groups are entangled in mutual enmity, noting all of them have a different relationship with the dominant Punjab Province.
    But it is evident that all the conflicting groups are reorganising themselves to grab the power with the help of Terrorism and Ant-Indian Stands. All these are the decaying signs of Pakistan unfortunately.

  3. Prez Says:

    Partition of Pakistan ?
    What is This ?
    Pakistan has never been United.
    In 1971 East Pakistan freed.
    FATA(Federally Administered Tribal Areas) along the border with Afghanistan; the FANA, Federally Administered Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) and Pakistan-administered Kashmir (which Pakistan calls Azad Kashmir), never reconciled with the Pakistn’s Central Administration.
    The other 4 provinces i.e. Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan always condemning each other.
    This is the fragmented , fragile and volatile situation of Pakistan.
    In Pakistan Military Power always endangers the Democracy.
    But I don’t know how much democracy prevail in the 53 Islamic Countries in this World.
    Pakistan was established out of enmity with India. And It will finish itself with the enmity with India.

  4. Keenan Shoulders Says:

    Superb post however I was wanting to know if you could write a little more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Bless you!

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