Tuesday, April 29, 2008

These are exciting times

If you have been following the political situation of Pakistan you know that a powder keg is about to explode. There is one day left until the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry will be reinstated. If he isn’t there will be mass rioting and all out breakdown of society. How did we reach this critical position?

Well it all started when Musharraf thought he was running his own little fiefdom. When the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared his actions to be unconstitutional. What did he do? He did what any other military dictator does when his throne is threatened. Neutralize the threat. He had Iftikhar Chaudhry thrown out of the court. And I mean this in the most literal sense. There is a picture of this distinguished gentleman being manhandled by Army police like a common thug. He spent several months under house arrest along with his family.

People spoke up against this injustice and called for Pervez Musharraf to step down. Of course stepping down isn’t in his vocabulary so he further consolidated his rule by declaring martial law. Now the army quite literally ruled the nation. All forms of protest were brutally smothered. Human right activists were dragged from their homes and arrested. Independent media was curtailed. Those were very scary times and you had to be careful with what you said.

However thanks to international pressure he had to undo what he did and allow for free and fair elections. Past experience had proven that elections don’t work because they do not represent the will of the people. Many political parties boycotted the sham elections. However two major player’s the PPP (Benazir Bhutto’s party) and the PML-N (Nawaz Sharif’s party) contested the elections along with two other major parties, which were loyal to Musharraf. Everyone assumed that the elections would be rigged and that the parties loyal to the king would win.

But the day after February 18 (election day) we learned that the opposition won by a landslide! People say that it was the army that stood up and told Musharraf enough is enough. We won’t help you rig this election and the will of the people must prevail. By the grace of God it did. With Musharraf’s cronies ousted from parliament and a lack of support from the army he was cornered. But to his credit his foes gave him some breathing space.

The coalition formed between the PPP and PML-N is fragile. Asif Ali Zardari husband to the late Benazir Bhutto is running her party. They managed to put a PPP representative in the Prime Minister’s office. However a lack of coordination is keeping the coalition from doing the same thing with the President’s office. Why is this? Well Zardari is essentially a playboy not a politician. Benazir provided for him while he lived it up. He got caught doing some shady business deals and was sent to prison for eight years. Rumor has it that Benazir didn’t miss him. Then the unimaginable happened Bhutto who is affectionately called BB by the people was assassinated.

If you have been following this blog from the beginning you know that this event was the sole catalyst, which drove me to blogging. I tell all in the first three posts which can be read here, here and here. After Zardari had a chance to grieve he seems very nonchalant about his wife’s death. When asked about the disputed cause of death, he very matter of frankly states that he watched the video in which the bullet went in from one side of her head and came out the other, thus confirming cause of death. I don’t know how he can stomach saying that if he truly loved her. Plus Asif Zardari has mixed feelings about bringing back the judge. On the one hand he liked to see Pervez gone on the other hand he fears that the judge is going to dig up his old case files and find him guilty of even more corruption charges. In this situation most people agree that we can undermine those charges for the greater good but still there is no guarantee.

At any rate, Sharif is en route to Dubai to meet with the playboy turned politician. The nation is anxiously waiting to see if these guys can pull it together and bring back the people’s champion, the rightful Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

UPDATE: The deadline has come and passed and Chaudhry hasn't been reinstated. The world didn't end as anticipated. That's only because the coalition has promised come through but require more time for talks and deliberation in Parliament. (You need them to pass legislation that will allow for the reinstatement) Either way analyst have already called this the rebirth of Pakistan. This is the stuff of legends.

2nd UPDATE: A new deadline has been given, now they say he'll be reinstated on 12th May. People are taking a wait and see approach. However if the coalition doesn't come through Chaudhry backers will take to the streets. It's fitting how they chose 12th May as the day to restore the rightful chief justice it was on that day that the social order did indeed breakdown.
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