General Zia Survives Constitutional Purge Thanks To N

Nawaz Sharif has dropped a bombshell on the country’s expectations with his news conference yesterday.   It was a most thoughtless and insensitive step by Pakistan’s “most popular” politician.   His party had agreed to the method of judges’ appointment and it was said that he had agreed to the re-naming of Pakhtunkhwa as well.   So this is a major surprise.   One had hoped that as the leader from the biggest province and country’s ethnic majority, he would have been more mindful of his responsibility.    Nawaz Sharif is protecting General Zia’s legacy when he should have taken a lead in undoing it and thereby atoning for his sins.  In doing so, he would have also dealt a crushing blow to the number one issue around which Pushtun Nationalists have mobilized. But it was not to be.  This is a rather bleak moment in our already patchy history. -YLH  

PRESS GALLERY: Sharifs unveil ‘Punjab Card’ to prolong zero-sum game

By Saeed Minhas

ISLAMABAD: With the Sharifs unveiling their ‘Punjab Card’, Maulana Diesel trying to get even with the government, ‘Bhai logs’ of Karachi going into a pensive mood and nationalists getting a hint coupled with the success of the Kiyani-Qureshi-led strategic dialogues in the US, an under-siege government is likely to find more bumpy roads ahead.

Is it a credit-game or a zero-sum game? No matter how we look at it, Law Minister Barber Awan to some extent, and a non-elected party chief in the shape of Nawaz Sharif to quite a major extent, has played a Brutus by stalling the process that would have likely established the democratic institutions and weakened the forces of centralisation.

A nine-month long sojourn for parliamentary supremacy has ended in a zero-sum game, as PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif seems to have committed yet another political blunder by not only digressing from the Charter of Democracy and playing his ‘Punjab Card’, but also by siding with the forces of the status-quo and his political mentors on Thursday. If the smiles of Garrison-town-boy Chaudhry Nisar and the shyness of Mian Sahib was something to notice, then the movements of the power-sniffing ‘bhai logs’ and Maulanas’ were also worth noticing.

An unusual session of the National Assembly and then the Senate was called to get things moving away from a quasi-presidential system to a pretty much parliamentary system as envisaged by the forefathers of the 1973 constitution. All these hopes were given a jolt by none other than the man who very recently was claiming to have learned his lessons from history and was vowing to be willing to sacrifice his life to uphold democratic traditions.

What crossed his mind or what triggered this change of heart remained an omni-point of discussions amongst all parliamentarians.

Although, PPP legislators were all smiles knowing that the president would continue to hold on to his powers, but pretending to convey the message that “Mian Sahib is as ‘political’ as he was throughout the 80s and 90s”. Leaguers, however, avoided hitting the floor of the House or the corridors, knowing well that they won’t have any answers to the queries of inquisitive media corps.

Had it been the issue of not keeping him in the loop over the Pak-US strategic dialogue, then Mian Sahib should have mentioned it through his legally elected representatives in the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms or throughout the past nine months, but he did not. As an analyst put it, Mian Sahib had a wishful thinking that the reforms committee would come to a deadlock and that he would then lead this stalemate to demand a mid-term elections assuming that he is at the zenith of his popularity. But after the unforced error committed by his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif and ultimate rebuke from the ‘Big Boss’, he seems to have realised that he is not in the good books of the Americans or the Khakis, therefore, the best way is to stall the process.

But as our senator-friend from the party of ‘Bhai logs’ raised the query that can a single party hijack the whole national agenda? He said that if so, he has opened a ‘Pandora’s box’ by giving an open invitation to all national and even linguistic parties to seek the division of Punjab into smaller units to end this monopoly game. He said that ‘Bhai logs’ had been wondering all along if the Sharifs had really changed and would let Asif Zardari of all people, take credit for amending the constitution.

If it was a case of appointment of judges, then his demand to include a retired judge in the judicial commission was acceded to the very next day by the reforms committee, then why is he still complaining, asked a political observer.

To put forward another of his lame excuses, Mian Sahib mentioned the differences with the Awami National Party over renaming NWFP. But when his kitchen-cabinet was asked about the same issue, they all sounded quite hopeful that after meeting with the ANP leaders, the issue would be resolved amicably. Why has Mian Sahib taken all this burden of proving that he belongs to the same old hands, which nurtured him in politis and then booted him out of it, remained on every legislators’ mind.

‘Barber Awan’, who has been on a tailor-made medical leave just like he was on leave when the restoration of judges issue surfaced, wanted to take credit by making a premature announcement about the 18th amendment. It was obvious that he was not considered very close to the presidential camp and was hoping that without even attending a majority of the 60 odd meetings of the reforms committee, he would take the credit by leaking the final outcome. Although it antagonised Raza Rabbani and many other members of the committee, but what dumbfounded them all was the faux pas of the Sharifs.

Courtesy Daily Times.



Filed under Constitution, Pakistan

24 responses to “General Zia Survives Constitutional Purge Thanks To N

  1. Yasir Qadeer

    Political reconciliation is the need of the times today. One political party stopping the long awaited positive constitutional amendments is sad. We need to work for collective gains rather than personal gains.

  2. Ally

    I dislike the Sharifs more and more each day…

  3. hoss

    Konsa pahar toot giya?
    Politicians stall for better bargaining position all the time, there is nothing wrong with NS playing for a better deal.

    The sarkari media is trying to help the PPP, there is nothing in it. There was no amendment for 2 years what is the big deal if takes a few weeks more?

  4. ylh

    Thus spake defender of right wing politics in Pakistan Hoss mian.

  5. ylh

    On second thought it suits fifth columnists and traitors to see the 18th amendment in limbo.

    After all how ANP mobilize against evil Punjab if “pakhtunkhwa” is granted.

  6. ylh

    * erratum. “Would”

  7. yasserlatifhamdani

    In case anyone is wondering …. Nawaz Sharif is interested in mid-term polls not constitutional amendments.

  8. bushra naqi

    The sytem is making itself hostage to subversive politics of Sharif brothers. This concept of taking every single person on board is just not possible nor practical. The Sharifs are again manipulating public opinion with the connivance of the media, to stubbornly have their way, irrespective of the rights and wrongs,

    Why can’t the government of Gilani simply seek a majority in the house and bypass them, insteading
    of playing to the whims of NS who is not even an elected member of parliament. Is this not civilian autocracy?

  9. bushra naqi

    I will also add that both demands of NS are completely irrational, namely the issue of selection of judges and the renaming of the frontier province as ‘pakhtoonkhwa’ In the former the demand has no rationale and in the latter the ANP should be given the first choice since it was their demand. And further the name ‘Afghania’ is too uncannily similar to ‘Afghanistan’

  10. haq

    i tried to say it on another thread, there is a dire need to reform our political parties. This is a classic example of Nawaz Sharif’s politics.

    If we do not reform our parties and politics then we would continue to see periodic military interventions and reversion to civilian rule.

  11. Khullat

    This prevailing attitude of our politicians reminds me of the following words:

    “Na khaidaan gay na khaidan deyaan gay”

  12. B. Civilian


    the only way to reform the political parties, politicians and politics of pakistan is for democracy to be given a free and perpetual run. either you can allow it to evolve naturally, and patiently bear all the setbacks and falls that are bound to be part of this evolution, esp at the early stages. or, you can ask for unnatural surgical implants or artificial military-civilian parity of some sort in running the country. the only way it out is the most difficult one and one requiring most patience. let democracy be, no matter how dysfuntional it may seem. the only cure is for no one other than the people to do with it as they please.

  13. Ally

    I agree that afghania sounds way to similar to afghanistan…

    will this eventually go through?

  14. Bin Ismail

    The issue of naming or renaming of N.W.F.P. reminds me of the saying “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

    Pakistan’s four provinces lie geographically on the four corners of the country. If all the other provinces were to be renamed, even transiently, according to their respective geographical location, all Pakistanis would be in a better position to share the feelings of the Pakistanis of N.W.F.P. Let Punjab be renamed N.E.F.P. (North East Frontier Province). Let Sindh be nenamed S.E.F.P.(South East Frontier Province). Let Baluchistan be renamed S.W.F.P (South West Frontier Province). Now that would be in the spirit of Equality or “Musawaat”.

  15. Khullat

    If the people of the province want it to be called “Pakhtoonkhwa”, so be it. Satt Bismillah.

  16. B. Civilian

    “If the people of the province want it to be called”…

    agreed. the only argument could be whether the federation has the right to insist, in the interest of the people of the province and their right to be heard, on a province-wide referendum. or, is the provincial assembly the right forum. after all, a change of name is not a legislative matter. but then the party in majority was elected with the name-change being part of its election manifesto.

    to possibly insist on a referendum is all the federation can do, and that too with a view to upholding the rights of all the people of the province. in the current circumstances, it is perhaps best for the federation to accede the demand amicably and move on with more important matters to do with strengthening the fledgling democracy.

  17. Tilsim

    Specifically, PML-N’s insistence on Judicial majority on the proposed Judicial appointment commission suggests that they have no faith in elected representatives. On the face of it, the CRC was right to reject their request.

    The Dawn editorial today points to the risk of the whole process unravelling as a result of PML-N’s stance as other people accepted compromises and now may review their stances. I am afraid that that it has a point.

  18. Yasser:

    India went through its crisis about identity in early 1960s. Making Hindi as the national language was enshrined in the constitution. This had created an “arbitrary” identity that seemed to dominate. Going though this crisis meant implementation of this clause of the constitution. This was rightly postponed. Now this clause is all forgotten footnote in India’s recent history.

    Looking back, it was a healthy crisis for India to go through in order to create a national identity (not on the basis of regions or languages). Therefore, I would not term, PML-N’s stand to be the darkest or lowest hour in Pakistan’s history. BJP’s predecessor, Jan Sangh, was acting like PML-N in those days. BJP had to move away from this stand to become a national party. Given a chance, PML-N one would too, if constitutional reform through electoral math of direct representation can ensure that Punjab can no longer form a national government alone.

    This may mean, what Zeemax has said on Chowk, that Seraiki must be a separate state in Pakistan.

    Pakistan’s challenge is that it has a single dominant region that has influence over its military, economy and government. This was akin to Hindi belt’s dominance enshrined in Indian constitution. Today Hindi belt no longer dominates and there is a healthy Indian identity, despite the fact that many Pakistanis may not like to believe it.

    Punjabis must back down, as Shastri did in 1960s and not implement the constitution’s clause. Nation demands it from Punjabi’s in Pakistan too.

    Nawaz Shariff is wrong, and very myopic.

  19. As a Pashtoon from the NWFP I feel that if renaming the NWFP is of paramount importance in these dire times, then lets call it Khyber or Ghandara or Abbasin… all names with historical/geographical connotations without the irking racial tinge.

  20. kohestani

    Can somebody tell me why th name Afghania is unacceptable to the hate-mongers of Punjab? That dumb politician of PMLN doesn’t seem to know that the letter ‘A’ in Pakistan stands for Afghania. These people have learned to speak Urdu like Biharis but otherwise they are still as illiterate and narrow-minded as ever before.

  21. hoss

    Refrain from speaking against all people, we know where the source of the problem is so please just address that.

    You don’t have to resort to calling people ethno-fascist to make your point. Let the “Pak Army=Pak state” crowd stay at that level.

  22. hayyer

    It is not often realized that till 1846 the North West for the British in Calcutta was the area between Lucknow and the Sutlej. The remnant of Ranjit Singh’s empire became the new North West after the Sikhs were defeated.
    Afghania seems a nice enough name, but any evocative local name should do. In India they evolved a Sanskritized etymology of naming new states, such as Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh out of Assam. The Nagas and Mizos howeve firmly declined any neologisms coined by the Department of Official Language.
    Also, (for Anil), the problem was not over Hindi’s status as a ‘national language’. It continues to be that along with 20 or so other national languages. It was over its ‘official status’ as the language of the Union Government. In March of 65 the Tamil riots against the impending cessation of English as a language of the Union led to the Hindi only policy being abandoned.

  23. kohestani


    One PMLN politician said in a TV program yesterday that he was also against the name Afhgania because we are not making it a province of Afghanistan. So, my questions are,

    a-Does that learned politician from Punjab even know why ANP is ready to rename NWFP as Afghania if that most beautiful name Pashtunkhwa is not acceptable to the real Pakistanis?

    b-Can we demand that Punjab is not a province of India anymore so we should give it some other name.

    Pakistan army is a predominantly Punjabi force and it has been killing the innocent people of all other three provinces since the inception of this country and it always enjoyed the full support of Punjab (but can except that there are always some exceptions). In my opinion the hate-mongers of Punjab and the army are same same. How many times did you see that Islamic army fighting in Balochestan and Pashtunkhwa and how many times in those clips did you see any non-Punjabi soldiers?

  24. Mustafa Shaban

    PMLN and NS are curropt and committed to the status quo and dont want change. I really hope that people recognize this and not vote for them in the next general elections. Many people say that no matter what the big parties say or do, they alwayz win elections because of thier money and power but I hope this is not so.