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Pakistan Is Again On The Hit List Of Al-Qaeda

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There are indications that the lawyers may relaunch their movement in Pakistan as the new ruling coalition failed to reinstate the judges removed by President Pervez Musharraf before November. According to majority of tribesmen, any instability at the political front in Pakistan will be disastrous for the war on terror. The terrorists can use the situation for achieving their ulterior motives. There will be more suicide attacks and more killings. The corrupt leadership of Pakistan must be given a message to mend their ways otherwise the time will come when they will be unable to find a safer place for them.

According to The News Internation editorial comment, PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif has returned disappointed and dejected after the final round of critical negotiations with PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on how to reinstate the judges deposed as a result of the emergency and PCO of November 3 last year. The talks broke down because they could not agree on a mechanism for implementing a planned parliamentary resolution that would have sought to restore the superior judiciary. After lengthy discussions in the PML-N central executive committee on Monday afternoon, the party has decided to pull out its ministers from the federal cabinet, as early as May 13. At the same time the party has said that its support to and cooperation with the PPP government will continue and that the latter will not be put under any pressure. This resolve to keep the coalition intact, notwithstanding the deep rift that seems to have crept into it, perhaps reflects the PML-N's fear that if the PPP were abandoned, it might seek the support of pro-Musharraf elements who would be more than happy to rejoin the government, in any shape or form, to isolate Nawaz Sharif and his party. The dilemma thus facing Nawaz Sharif is serious and complex.

The party has failed to convince the PPP leadership that the deposed judges need to be reinstated, but if the issue was pressed too hard the Punjab government could be at stake and that could be a prohibitive cost in the given situation. Despite the flexibility shown by the PML-N to concede the presence of the judges who took oath on the Nov 3 PCO, Mr Sharif has gained in stature by at least, in theory, sticking to publicly-stated principles. Conversely the PPP now looks more and more like an ally of the presidency where a revival of political fortunes is being visualized and aggression on several fronts is already visible. The overt campaign to bring new media curbs, using indirect methods including the PCO courts, coupled with moves to revive the PML-Q, albeit under a new leadership, may well be the sign of a rejuvenated presidency. In addition to this, any lasting break will go in the PML-N's favour with the PPP perceived as a saboteur and handmaiden of the president. Surely that is something that its leadership will not want to see happen: a situation where all the gains achieved and the massive public mandate received as a result of the Feb. 18 election are frittered away.

The breakdown on the judges issue could possibly reignite both the lawyers and sections of civil society who have both been taking to the streets in the not-too-distant past demanding their immediate reinstatement. Here, it should be remembered that the PML-N was an active catalyst and facilitator of these protests and it may well, covertly or otherwise, resume this role. Clearly, the best approach now would be to minimize the damage done and this could be done by both parties settling down to at least a working relationship after acknowledging that certain differences exist. Both PPP and PML-N leaders have taken pains to stress that they will not create a vacuum for the remnants of the previous regime to fill -- and the responsibility of ensuring this lies more on the PML-N leadership.

Also, it should be noted that the breakdown occurred not because there were differences over restoration but rather on the mode of reinstatement. This is an important common ground and should be used to keep the parties on the same side of the fence. The PPP can, in the time it gains between now and until the constitutional package is brought into parliament, keep the PML-N engaged as a partner.

What it must further do now is to remove the growing perception that everything it is doing is at the behest of and in support to President Musharraf as part of its commitments made before and after the general elections. This perception of the PPP becoming a 'B' team or, according to some cynics, an 'A' team, of President Musharraf would be politically disastrous. The PPP will also need to show maturity and patience to absorb the criticism which it is bound to be subjected to -- both by the media and civil society. The breakdown must not become the first and the last stone to fatally divide the political community -- which has come together after many years of despotic rule to defend and pursue its common goals.
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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur District, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is (more...)

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