Next four weeks may decide Pakistan’s fate


Islamabad : Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has not ruled out the imposition of emergency rule and the Supreme Court’s rulings on several important issues amid fast-moving political developments make the next one month crucial for the country, media reports here said Monday.

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Aziz was quoted Monday as saying that he would be consulted if there was a decision on imposing emergency. But there was no immediate plan.

Ruling Pakistan Muslim League chief Shujaat Hussain has also not ruled out emergency, having himself recommended it at one stage.

However, The News said: “Realising that the game is slipping out of its hands, the government will not hesitate in resorting to extreme measures like emergency – even more than that. Imposition of emergency has just been deferred. But all such steps will be monumentally unpopular in and out of Pakistan and aggravate the crisis.”

It said in a detailed report that the issues coming up before the apex court would determine much of the political direction the country would take in the near future.

While one exiled former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has threatened to move the apex court to challenge Musharraf seeking re-election while retaining his military uniform, another ex-premier Nawaz Sharif has already challenged his exile and demanded that he be allowed to return home.

Half-a-dozen critical developments lined up for the next four weeks – the interlude described by Musharraf “as extremely important” – will determine the political fate and future of the president, the two exiled former prime ministers and of Pakistan, according to The News.

The apex court has itself only recently emerged from a crisis. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry was suspended by Musharraf on charges of misuse of office, which triggered a four-month nationwide agitation.

Chaudhry has been reinstated and has made some bold statements and rulings with which the government could not be comfortable, media reports say.

“In one way or the other, the Supreme Court will be the centre stage of the decisive drama. The happenings, coming on the heels of each other, will continue to generate political heat in the stuffy weather,” said The News.

The apex court will decide on the petitions filed by Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif. “The second part of this show will be enacted in case of an affirmative ruling in the Sharifs’ favour when they may be flying to Pakistan on the force of the court decision.

“If the government, respecting the judgement, allows them to land in Pakistan, the Sharifs’ presence in the country will unfold a heightened theatre that would certainly test Musharraf’s patience to the full.

“However, if the Sharifs are bundled back to some foreign land and not allowed to enter Pakistan despite the positive judicial decision, a new controversy would be spawned, involving the apex court, which would be approached over breach of its ruling. The Sharifs’ present petitions portend a risky scenario,” the newspaper said.

The apex court may shortly take up and perhaps decide Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) president Qazi Hussain Ahmed’s petition, disputing Musharraf’s holding of the office of the chief of the army staff.

Another likely question that is going to come up before the Supreme Court during these vital four weeks will be whether or not the present assemblies, having a five-year lifespan, are qualified to elect the president twice for 10 years.