My choice today: Thursday 19 June 2008 – Long March or the Biryani Eaters? President Zardari, by Hamid Mir; Hasan Wasim Afzal – the most corrupt

Who is the real man of the Long March? Nawaz Sharif

Long March – The Biryani eaters show – by Nazir Naji

Hassan Wasim Afzal, the most corrupt prostitute bureaucrat who was first hired by Nawaz Sharif (Saifur-Rehman), then by Musharraf, for political victimization.

There were some extremists in the Long March – claims Aitzaz Ahsan

A meeting with Asif Zardari – Aftab Iqbal

Asif Zardari – Asadullah Ghalib

There were some extremists in the Long March – Aitzaz Ahsan

The Long March, Munir Niazi, and Ali Ahmed Kurd – Khalid Masood Khan

Zardari, the future President of Pakistan? Hamid Mir

Long March, Lawyers, and Mr Zardari – Syed Anwar Qidwai

Signs of a shady compromise on judges issue – Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: A dubious compromise of sorts may be in the offing in the ongoing struggle for the restoration of the deposed judges in the name of attaining the ultimate objective of an independent judiciary.

Background interactions with quarters concerned reveal some of the deposed judges were ready for a compromise to accept the PCO judges as their colleagues in return for their reinstatement.

Some top lawyers’ leaders, too, in their off-the-record discussions, talk of having no option but to accept the PCO judges whereas the champion of the pro-Nov 2 judiciary, the PML-N, also seems to be showing some flexibility on its principled stand.

The compromise solution appears strange because the deposed judges would work with the PCO judges, who would be in a majority in a 29-member full court. The role of the restored judges would also be limited through some person-specific amendments to be made in the Constitution.

This solution, it is admitted, would not achieve the ultimate goal of an independent judiciary but would end up in sweeping the judicial crisis under the carpet in the name of resolving the thorny issue.

A source revealed that some of the deposed judges are frustrated to get back to their chambers at any cost. The source said these deposed judges are willing to serve alongside the PCO judges.

According to a lawyers’ leader, this situation is quite disturbing for them as those for whom the legal fraternity is struggling appear to be crumbling under pressure. When asked as to why the lawyers are not exposing such deposed judges and move on for a solution that should ensure a really independent judiciary, he said the people have now developed great attachment with the deposed judges.

The lawyers’ leader also ruled out the Maulana Fazlur Rehman formula which suggests removal of all the deposed as well as the PCO judges and appointment of new judges in the Supreme Court and high courts through a transparent procedure.

In one of his recent speeches, deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who symbolises the ongoing struggle for an independent judiciary, had rejected the continuation of the PCO judges upon reinstatement of the deposed judges.

On the other hand, the PML-N, which gained a lot of popularity for its clear stance on the judges issue, has started to appear vague. While PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif has categorically stated that he would not accept the PCO judges, his lieutenants are talking of a possible compromise.

Contrary to Information Minister Sherry Rehman’s clear announcement that the number of Supreme Court judges is being raised to appoint the PCO judges as regular judges, PML-N Information Secretary Ahsan Iqbal said his party is not averse to the creation of additional posts in the Supreme Court.

He explained the creation of additional posts does not mean these are being created for the PCO judges. Nawaz Sharif recently told this correspondent that the Finance Bill proposal to increase the number of judges in the Supreme Court does not have his approval. The PPP, however, insistS that the PML-N has given its consent to the government on the matter.

When probed, Ahsan Iqbal revealed the move to create additional vacancies for judges in the Supreme Court is not a violation of the Murree Declaration which, he insisted, does not bar the government to create more posts for judges.

He said the question of filling of these additional posts would require a consensus between all stakeholders, admitting the PPP and the PML-N would be required to show some flexibility in their respective stands to reach a compromise. Ahsan Iqbal said his party would not agree to any solution that is not acceptable to the lawyers’ fraternity and civil society.

Another senior PML-N leader, known for his closeness with the Zardari House, meanwhile, confirmed to The News correspondent Ahmad Noorani the proposal to increases the strength of the Supreme Court judges was given by the PML-N and that his party would completely support the Finance Bill, including the contentious proposal.

“How can we oppose it as we ourselves have suggested it? Rather we are thankful to the PPP to have it included in the budget document,” the PML-N leader was quoted as saying. When asked how his party could accept regularisation of the PCO judges, the PML-N leader claimed it has been done in consultation with the deposed judges and the lawyer’s leadership.

Waffling on

IT is not that difficult to decipher. On the face of it, much of what Mr Asif Ali Zardari has been saying these days is repetitive, with a new, odd idea thrown in here and there to arouse interest. Occasionally, he drops hints that appear pregnant with possibilities. Thus he recently said his party would soon control the presidency — making people guess at who he had in mind as the next head of state whenever a change is wrought. On Tuesday, he spoke at length, and some of his ideas were quite new, though controversial. Aware of the popular feeling about the judges’ reinstatement and the inflexible position adopted by the PML-N, Mr Zardari has been performing quite a balancing act. While he takes a dig at President Pervez Musharraf — ‘a relic of the past’ — and says his party does not recognise him as a constitutionally elected president, he makes it clear that he does not believe in impeachment either. Then mindful of the fact that the army is the army, he says he does not approve of the weakening of this institution because that could lead to ‘warlordism’. There is also a display of ego: the judges would be restored ‘at a time of our choosing’.

Tuesday’s press talk by the PPP co-chairman makes two things clear: he is keen on keeping the coalition going, and he does not believe in getting rid of President Musharraf. Differences are inherent in democracy and politics, he says, and points out that Balochistan’s PPP chief minister had not accepted the police chief nominated by Islamabad. This way he wants the PML-N too to accept the reality of the two parties’ divergent positions on the judiciary. Benazir Bhutto, he said, gave her life not for Iftikhar Chaudhry but for an independent judiciary. One wishes the PPP chief had been as clear as that in his mind at Bhurban. What he is saying today he should have had the courage to utter in March. The somersault on the Bhurban declaration turned what could have been a robust, development-oriented coalition into a dead horse.

It is time Mr Zardari stopped equivocating: let him make it clear once and for all that he regrets his party is not going to upset the present arrangement, based as it is on the PCO and NRO. Elucidating the PPP’s position will not shell-shock the Sharifs; they already stand thoroughly disillusioned. But such a categorical statement will be a signal to the coalition allies — and the confused bureaucracy — at the centre and in the four provinces to put the judiciary issue behind them and get on with the job of governing Pakistan and working for giving the hard-pressed people some relief from food inflation and blackouts. (Dawn).

Zardari, Nawaz meet in Raiwind: No consensus on judges’ issue, impeachment

* PPP co-chairman says move to impeach Musharraf should be avoided until two-thirds majority attained in parliament
* Urges former PML-N ministers to rejoin federal cabinet

LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif failed to form consensus on several issues including the reinstatement of the sacked judges and a move to impeach President Pervez Musharraf during a meeting held at Nawaz’s Raiwind residence on Wednesday

Zardari said that a move to impeach Musharaf should be avoided until a two-thirds majority is attained in both houses of parliament, while Nawaz insisted that the coalition does in fact enjoy such a majority in parliament.

Federal cabinet: The PPP co-chairman asked the PML-N ministers to rejoin the federal cabinet, adding that it was in the national interest and essential to streamline the functions of governmental institutions. Nawaz however maintained that his party members would not consider rejoining the federal cabinet until the sacked judges were restored in accordance with the Murree Declaration.

Zardari also urged Nawaz to reconsider the constitutional package as a means of restoring the sacked judges, and said it would help to avoid many legal and constitutional complications. The PML-N chief said that his party was firm on their position to restore the judiciary to its pre-November 2, 2007 status through an executive order instead of the parliament.

Both leaders reiterated their resolve to keep the coalition intact.

Sources privy to the meeting said that both leaders agreed that any break in the current coalition would harm the country and it should hence be maintained at all costs.

Zardari was accompanied by Adviser to Prime Minister on Interior Rahman Malik, PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badr and PPP Punjab Secretary General Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas while Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Senator Ishaq Dar, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, PML-N parliamentarian Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and PML-N Information Secretary Ahsan Iqbal accompanied Nawaz Sharif. PML-N leaders Khawaja Asif, Raja Riaz, Zulfiqar Khosa, Sardar Yaqoob and Khawaja Saad Rafiq were also present.

Ahsan Iqbal told reporters after the meeting that both coalition partners agreed on the restoration of all sacked judges of the higher courts, yet differed on a practical method to achieve this. “Our position is that we want to see the restoration of judges and the removal of Musharraf as quickly as possible,” Iqbal said, adding, “We have differences of opinion on the issues, but our goal is the same.”

Iqbal said the sacked judiciary would be reinstated at all costs, but strongly ruled out giving any concessions to the present judges appointed through the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO). “It is unfair to treat PCO judges and non-PCO judges on an equal basis,” he said.

He said his party was steadfast on its agenda and had made it clear to the PPP leadership that Musharraf should be forced to quit his office as soon as possible, as he was busy conspiring against democracy in the President’s Camp Office. He said the next round of talks would be held on June 20, when Zardari will again visit the PML-N chief in Lahore. He added that the current meeting was a gesture of goodwill. staff report/agencies (Daily Times).