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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    February 25, 2009

    Just what the doctor didn't order for Pakistan

    Pakistan's Supreme Court today barred Nawaz Sharif from contesting elections and also declared as null and void the election of his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of the Punjab province.

    Obviously, the PML (N) isn't going to take this lying down and there have been huge & widespread protests all over Pakistan.

    The Sharif brothers haven't accepted the authority of the current judges because they were sworn in by Pervez Musharraf under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) issued in November 2007.

    There are a couple of interesting aspects of this whole drama which seem inexplicable.

    • After Musharraf's coup on 12 October 1999 (to present a study in contrast with India, where a day later, Vajpayee was taking oath after a general election), he forced judges to re-take oath under a new PCO since the constitution had been suspended. Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was among the first few judges to take oath. Further, after taking office at the Supreme court, he was among the 12 judges who validated Musharraf's coup and pronounced that Nawaz Sharif's removal was legal. He then convinced the then president to resign, which resulted in Musharraf becoming president. He was also party to the supreme court's decision to dismiss petitions questioning Musharraf's constitutional amendments.

      So why on earth was Nawaz Sharif fighting for reinstating him?

    • Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan in late 2007 after striking a deal with Musharraf, ending a 7 year exile in Saudi Arabia. So, Nawaz Sharif was perfectly ok with an agreement with Musharraf, but not ok with judges appointed by Musharraf! If, as Nawaz Sharif had always held, Musharraf's coup was illegal, then the agreement reached with Musharraf was also illegal.
    To quote Ravi Shastri, this is just what the doctor would never have ordered for Pakistan.

    It is currently going through a severe economic crisis (it needs something like USD 14 billion even after recently getting a USD 7.6 billion loan from the IMF even as it's "all-weather friend", China, offered no help during Asif Ali Zardari's recent visit). It is getting hammered for the deal with the Tehreek-e-Taliban in a portion of Swat and letting Dr. AQ Khan off scot-free. There's tremendous pressure from India (and to a disappointingly lesser extent, from other countries whose citizens were also murdered) over ensuring that the government took action on those responsible for the terror attacks in Mumbai last year.

    Seems like the US National Intelligence Council assessment 4 years ago could turn out to be accurate after all!

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