There are some clear signs that Pakistan’s military establishment and its allies (commonly known as Teen Jeem (3 Js), i.e., “Jenerals” and their loyalist judges and journalists) have decided to derail the fragile democratic set up in Pakistan. According to informed sources, a senior army officer held an important meeting with an influential Supreme Court judge in the second week of December. The judge is currently hearing a number of important cases against the elected government. Apparently, both institutions (army and judiciary) have agreed in principle to inflict fatal damage to the elected government by removing Asif Zardari from Presidency in January 2012. In the likely event that the Prime Minister and the parliament might hit back, the Supreme Court has agreed to help in dissolving the parliament and installing a technocrat government in February which will be vital to engineer the conducting and results of general elections in the last quarter of 2012.
Army wants Zardari out but no coup
According to a Reuters report:
Pakistan’s powerful army is fed up with unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari and wants him out of office, but through legal means and without a repeat of the coups that are a hallmark of the country’s 64 years of independence, military sources said. Tensions are rising between Pakistan’s civilian leaders and its generals over a memo that accused the army of plotting a coup after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May. “Who isn’t fed up with Zardari? It’s not just the opposition and the man on the street but people within the government too,” said one military source who asked not to be named.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s affirmative signal to General Kayani
Pakistan’s Supreme Court is already signalling to the almighty army that it is ready to take (de facto) legal (but de jure illegal and unconstitutional) action against President Zardari.
On the question of constitutional immunity to President Asif Ali Zardari, the Supreme Court made it clear on Thursday that immunity to anyone did not apply automatically as it ruled in clear terms that in order to benefit from this constitutional provision, the court had to be asked for it.
“In a case wherein a high personality is involved, but claims to have constitutional immunity for submitting replies to the court, there is a legal principle which says that the court has to be asked for it,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry told Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq during the hearing of the memo case. A nine-member larger bench headed by Chaudhry is hearing the petitions.
The chief justice had previously hinted on many occasions that immunity to the president under Article 248 of the constitution was still an undecided issue and anyone seeking it would have to come to the Supreme Court for a judgement.
Pakistan’s PM Gilani warns against a judicio-military conspiracy to derail democracy
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Thursday (22 December 2011) there was a “conspiracy” to overthrow his elected government and, in unusually candid remarks, reminded the country’s powerful armed forces that they are subservient to elected politicians.
Mr. Gilani, who heads the Pakistan People’s Party-led government, stopped short of blaming the army for playing a role in a move by a right-wing opposition party (PML-N), through the Supreme Court, to topple the elected government. But the remarks show a newfound assertiveness in the PPP to push back against its detractors, including the armed forces.
“I want to make it clear that there are conspiracies going on to pack up the elected government,” Mr. Gilani said at a government function.
The Prime Minister said that all the State institutions were answerable to the Parliament and there could not be “a State within State”.Responding to a point of order of Leader of the Opposition Ch Nisar Ali Khan regarding reply of the Defence Ministry to the Supreme Court that the Army and the ISI are not subordinate to the ministry, the Prime Minister said, “if the Army considers itself a State within State, then it is unacceptable.”“We will have to come out of this slavery,” he said. “If we will remain subordinate to this system, then there is no need of the parliament,” he added.
The Prime Minister said the government had made the armed forces accountable to the Parliament. “We have the highest regard for the armed forces and assumed ownership on war on terror and stood shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces in difficult times”. He said the government firmly stood with the institutions and fully protected them after the Mumbai incident. “I even sacked Gen (Retd) Mahmood Durrani for giving an irresponsible statement on the issue.”
Prime Minister Gilani reiterated that the government fully supported the armed forces on May 2 issue of Osama bin Laden and the NATO attacks at Salala check post in Mohmand Agency. “The democratic government has always emboldened the image of security forces on all issues,” he said. The government always stood by the institutions and realizing the sacrifices of our soldiers for the cause of country, it raised their salaries by hundred percent, he added.
The Prime Minister said he was not criticizing anybody but making it clear that the joint session of the Parliament was convened soon after the May 2 incident to probe how Osama bin Laden managed to live in Pakistan for six years and on which visa he came here. Referring to the Abbottabad Commission, he said that now the issuance of visas from Washington was being highlighted and the entire responsibility was being shifted towards the civilian government. (Source)
Mr. Gilani’s reference to a conspiracy comes amid efforts to unseat his administration over an issue, known as Memogate, which revolves around allegations the government sent a short note in May to President Barack Obama’s government asking for its help to counter the domestic political power of Pakistan’s armed forces.
The government denies involvement with the unsigned memo and says the affair is a non-issue. But Nawaz Sharif, leader of the country’s largest opposition party, earlier this month asked the Supreme Court to investigate, and has called for elections, not due until 2013. In a written deposition to the court, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said he backed a full inquiry. On Thursday, the Supreme Court adjourned a hearing on Mr. Sharif’s petition without making a decision about whether to appoint a commission to look in to the matter. It will reconvene Friday.
Leaders of the PPP, co-chaired by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, say they don’t believe the army would go as far as a coup to unseat the government. But they believe Gen. Kayani, who is said to dislike Mr. Zardari, is playing a behind-the-scenes role in fomenting trouble for the government through the Supreme Court.
The PPP, which came to power in 2008, has allowed the military a broad remit to run foreign affairs and defense, in an attempt to stave off any prospect of a coup. The army has directly ruled Pakistan for about half its 64-year history, most recently for a decade until 2008. While Gen. Kayani, who took his post in 2007, has so far kept to promises not to formally take power, the army has continued to play an outsized domestic political role.
Mr. Gilani’s remarks Thursday, in which he pointed out the army was paid for by people’s taxes and must answer to the government, are his first of this type and show a newfound mettle in the PPP’s response to the current crisis.
“Neither the PPP nor the government want to go to battle with the military,” a senior PPP official said. “But we feel that it’s critical to achieve a true democracy where all institutions know their boundaries and work within them.” (Source: WSJ)
Benazir Bhutto criticizes ethnic and political bias of Pakistan’s Supreme Court led by Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry