Will Politicians Squelch Long March Before Activists Can Make Demands?
The Long March started on March 12, 2009, from Karachi and Quetta. But will it reach Islamabad? and will the lawyers and leaders of political parties achieve their respective goals? So far, it is anybody's guess.
Going through various news reports and analysis today, I came across several interesting points that can make or break the Long March.
Rauf Klasra, in his article in The News, believes that a new political deal, backed by Washington, London and the establishment, has been conveyed to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Here is how the deal goes:
- The prime minister has been asked to immediately convince beleaguered President Asif Ali Zardari to demonstrate the flexibility required to break the present deadlock before the long march could reach Islamabad.
- Gilani has reportedly been given 24 hours to convince Zardari into agreeing to the new political and constitutional arrangement.
- Punjab governor Salman Taseer might be shown the door. Just like Zardari, Taseer is seen as a major hurdle to normalisation of the working relationship between the PPP and the PML-N.
- A new constitutional package would be part of the deal between the PPP and the PML-N. Major irritants will be removed through parliament, with the Americans still favouring the political order in place in Islamabad and Lahore.
- Expected to be implemented in the next 48 hours after a Gilani-Zardari meeting, the new initiative includes restoration of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Although, there has been no meeting between Gilani and Zardari since the presidentís return from Iran early Thursday morning, the two leaders are said to have talked on telephone.
- PML-N would be given a fair chance to form its government in the Punjab by bringing in a new face in place of Shahbaz Sharif.
- A constitutional committee is said to be part of the deal to be inked between the government and the PML-N, which may also submit a new package of reforms in line with the Charter of Democracy. The condition barring the election of a prime minister or a chief minister for a third term will also go.
- One proposal to break the deadlock on the judge' issue is to revive the old proposal of two chief justices — one dealing with the legal side of the Supreme Court and the other with the constitutional side. Justice Sardar Raza and Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry will likely hold these positions.
- Should the president spurn the plan, the situation may get worse and the "powers involved" will be left with no option but the "minus-one formula" to save the system.
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir writes in the The News that the government is considering to replace the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer within a week and abolish the office of the adviser to the prime minister on interior as Rehman Malik will be picked up as a federal minister.
Malik himself wanted to become a minister instead of staying on as an adviser. Former senator and eminent jurist Akbar Khawaja is the front runner for the office of the governor. Some other names are also under consideration for the slot.
This all leads to a conclusion, that is, future of Long March will be decided by the politicians and invisible hands that pull the strings in affairs of Pakistan. Lawyers' Fraternity, that has sacrificed a lot in last two years, may not achieve what they are fighting for, and People of Pakistan, as always, will be taken for a ride.
Cross posted at Chowrangi.com.
Image Source: Jang
Tags: Asif Ali Zardari , Islamabad , Long March , Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry , Karachi , Quetta , Rehman Malik , Salman Taseer
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