Original Articles

Nawaz Sharif Backtracked – by Sajid Ali

The Constitution Reform Committee worked for about 9 months at 18th amendment for repealing 17th amendment. The Committee consisted of senior parliamentarian of all parties, treasury as well as opposition. All nation put their eyes at the 24th of March when the Bill was to be tabled but suddenly PML (N) backtracked and took a u-turn.

It is now crystal clear that PML (N) is foul playing; they only want to impose their own suggestions on all committee members. It is clear that PML (N) member of the committee were not consulted by their party leadership. A few days earlier they said that their only grievance pertained to the name of the NWFP rather than the dispute Sharif addressed in the press conference.

One more issue is regarding consultation with Chief Justice of Pakistan for the appointment procedure for judges. It means that they want to deny the supremacy of the parliament. Sharif’s press conference shocked the whole nation and political parties across the country. PML (N) head wasted all effort made by the members of the committee which they were doing for finalization of the issue with consensus.

Constitution reforms are a newel social contract among all provinces. Given that all members of the constitutional reform committee had agreed at the issue of appointment of judges, one wonders why this drama has been created by PML (N) Chief. It creates doubts that Nawaz Sharif is not sincere for repealing of 17th amendment.  His press conference has created doubts his sincerity and creditability. He should stop playing with the emotions of the whole nation.

Sharif seems to hold some ulterior motive behind the drama which will soon be evident before the nation. Nawaz Sharif only wants to create hurdle for repealing of 17th amendment. As he knows if this issue is solved than nothing will be left for his political manoeuvring.

Here is a relevant report by Amir Waseem ( DAWN )

ISLAMABAD: Moments before the scheduled signing of the amendment bill by the all-party Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, the Pakistan Muslim League-N on Thursday backtracked from its stance on the issue of judges’ appointment and renaming of the NWFP, stalling the much-awaited reforms package for an indefinite period.

At a time when the nation was eagerly waiting for a happy conclusion, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif dropped a bombshell that the mechanism agreed for judges’ appointment was not acceptable to his party.

“I have talked to Prime Minister (Yousuf Raza) Gilani on phone and asked him to consult the chief justice and then decide the mechanism with us,” Mr Sharif said at a news conference after presiding over a meeting of the party’s central organising committee and its leaders from the NWFP at the Punjab House. His appeal to the government to delay the constitutional reforms package and consult the judiciary on judges’ appointment before presentation in parliament shocked the whole nation and political parties across the divide.

This is despite the fact that the procedure for judges’ appointment is the same as that drafted under the Charter of Democracy signed by Mr Sharif and Benazir Bhutto in May 2006. Just a couple of days ago, the reforms committee had even agreed to reconstitute the proposed judicial commission on PML-N’s calls for adding a retired judge of the Supreme Court as its seventh member.

Mr Sharif’s remarks also contradicted the admission by all sides that the reforms package has been finalised with consensus.

Even PML-N members of the committee found it extremely difficult to defend the party’s somersault on a matter already agreed upon.

Frustrated Rabbani

Committee chairman Raza Rabbani was the most downcast and frustrated after the development. “The authority to appoint judges should not rest with an individual and for that matter not even with the president or the chief justice,” he said, adding that the number of judges in the proposed judicial commission should be more than the members representing the government.

The PML-N chief said he had warned the prime minister against any move to present the draft of the amendment bill in parliament without consensus. He, however, said he had assured Mr Gilani that his party would not create any hurdle if President Asif Ali Zardari decided to address the joint parliamentary session.

Earlier, Mr Sharif had advised Mr Zardari not to come to parliament for the address without repealing the 17th Amendment.

“We want it early. It’s up to the prime minister as to when he consults the chief justice,” Mr Sharif said when asked how long will the party will wait for a consensus.

To the surprise of many, Mr Sharif even suggested to the prime minister to convene a meeting of the government and opposition representatives with the chief justice to hammer out the issue. Mr Raza Rabbani could also be invited to the talks, he said.

Mr Sharif evaded a question as to why members of his party did not raise the issue during the committee’s proceedings.

In the morning PML-N leaders were claiming in their private conversations that they had reached an understanding with the ANP on the renaming of NWFP and that a meeting of the party in the afternoon was a mere formality.

PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told Dawn after the press conference that the party failed to resolve the renaming issue. In reply to a question about an earlier claim of an understanding, he said the party was not expecting such a harsh reaction from members belonging to the NWFP.

Sources said that some members from the NWFP at the PML-N meeting had even threatened to resign from assemblies and the party if it agreed to the ANP proposal of renaming the province as “Pakhtoonkhwa”.

“We have told the committee that the signing of the document is subject to the outcome of their party’s Thursday’s meeting,” said Mr Iqbal, who had not told the media about this condition till Wednesday night.

About the judicial commission, he said there were reports that lawyers were unhappy over its composition and some of them had even prepared petitions to challenge it in the court.

Mr Iqbal said his party did not want to see a clash of institutions and, therefore, wanted to resolve the matter to avoid a possible confrontation.

The PML-N chief said the issue of renaming of the NWFP should be resolved through consensus even if took longer in time. Asked if he was ready to show some flexibility, Mr Sharif said: “There is no flexibility on principles.”

He said that whenever his party would realise that there was a threat to the independence of judiciary it would act accordingly.

The abrupt U-turn by the PML-N drew harsh criticism from all political sides.

ANP leader Ilyas Bilour said the PML-N would come out as “lone loser in the present crisis”. He said that two days ago Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N himself called on ANP chief Asfandyar Wali and gave him a choice to select one name from Pakhtoonkhwa-Abaseen and Pakhtoonkhwa Khyber to which Mr Wali had given him a free-hand.

Mr Bilour categorically stated that his party would not support the repeal of the 17th Amendment unless its demand of renaming the province as Pakhtoonkhwa was met. He claimed that all smaller and nationalist parties had agreed to it.

ANP Senator Haji Adeel, who is a member of the committee, said all parties had submitted notes of dissent on the proposals on which they had reservations. However, he said, no party, including the PML-N, had submitted any dissenting note on the proposal about the formation of the judicial commission.

PPP information secretary Fauzia Wahab termed the development “regrettable” and “against the spirit of the Charter of Democracy”. She said there were some hidden forces which did not want to see any parliamentary role in judges’ appointment.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira refrained from criticising the PML-N and expressed the hope that the matter would be resolved amicably.

He, however, said the PML-N announcement had shocked the nation, urging Mr Sharif to reconsider his stance.

About the author

Farhad Jarral

18 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • Nawaz Sharif’s Summer Salt, he is politician who start politics on the Lap of Zia, he is political baby of Zia, he is now arrogant but he dont know the mode of Mess, now he is flying on the Sky, some day he fall on earth.

  • جناب مُسلم لیگ ہمیشہ “ج” کے سہاروں پر سیاست کرتی ہے.
    کبھی “جرنیل” کبھی “جج” کبھی “جرنلسٹ” آج کل ان کی آنکھ کا تارا افتخار چودھری ہے جس کے بل بوتے پر وہ سیاست کر رہے ہیں

  • آپ اس میں ” جماعت ” کو بھی شامل کر سکتے ہیں ، چاہے وہ جماعت اسلامی ہو، تبلیغی جماعت ، جماعت الدعوی یا اہل سنّت وال جماعت یعنی کہ سپاہ صحابہ جسسے میں سپاہ یزید کہتا ہوں

  • Did Nawaz Sharif really backtrack? The PPP’s reaction (unlike media’s reaction) is rather mute. Does that suggest something? Here are two very interesting comments from a thread at pkpolitics, which provide some useful insight:

    Faarigh Jazbati said:

    I am a little surprised by the politicians quick response on NS latest stance on the Constitutional package. I think people in general and politician’s in specific are giving their comments against NS in haste without understanding the motives of NS move.

    in my humble opinion and understanding of the political moves and especially watching NS’s politics over the years, I beleive that latest move by NS is done solely to make sure that there is no obstacles thrown by Establishment to derail the adoption of constitutional package by the parliament.

    If you watch the reaction carefully from PPP, it is not hostile in nature and rather mute. Not all the guns were opened against NS and PLMN. The people from PPP, ANP and other parties who were reacting to NS stance are the usual suspects and it is expected that the response from them will be like that.

    The thing to understand and look is that there is no hostile response from PM Gilani (forget about Rauf Clasara report as he hates NS), Asfand Wali Khan or even from Maulana FR. Also due to the NS persumed objection, all the people who have no presence in parliament has been silenced.

    I strongly beleive that the whole situation is created as a smoke screen to make sure that there is no attempt by establishment through their agents in the parliament to sabotage the constitutional package. NS and PLMN will show their agreement on the package and after NS support no one will be able to object to that as the pressure will be so huge on anyone objecting to the constitutional package.

    FJ

    26 March 2010 at 2:17 pm
    pejamistri said:
    @FJ
    You are absolutely right. For those who remember the thirteenth amendment how NS had to get it passed in haste and that too only stripping the President of 58(2)b. It looks like this time both NS and AZ are playing a very delicate game to ensure getting most out of the 18th amendment. I was rather disappointed though as the amendment has not yet been presented however I am waiting for the day. And I am sure it is not going to be too far.

  • Khawaja Muhammad Awais Khalil :
    آپ اس میں ” جماعت ” کو بھی شامل کر سکتے ہیں ، چاہے وہ جماعت اسلامی ہو، تبلیغی جماعت ، جماعت الدعوی یا اہل سنّت وال جماعت یعنی کہ سپاہ صحابہ جسسے میں سپاہ یزید کہتا ہوں

    Two of Zia’s favourite Agha Hasan Abedi, and Agha Murataz Poya were also in Sipah-e-Yazeed.

  • According to Khalid Ranjha (Column Kaar 26 March 2010), Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry (and his associates) have pressurized Nawaz Sharif to create this deadlock. CJ and his associates want to have a definite upper hand in the appointment of judges.

    Apparently their (telephone) message to Nawaz Sharif was:

    Listen to us, or get ready to face various (currently suspended) references in the Supreme Court.

  • Nawaz will have to backtrack to avoid brickbats
    By Ansar Abbas
    March 27, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: Nawaz Sharif has started receiving all the brickbats for which he has to squarely blame himself. He was not upfront on Thursday as he normally appears. He should have admitted loudly that it was actually the Pakhtoonkhwa issue that provoked him to harp on something unbelievable. Nobody, not even his own party leaders, is willing to buy the justifications that their boss offered at his press talk. These were totally unconvincing even to discerning souls. And on Friday Ishaq Dar, who is a member of the Rabbani Committee, is reported to have admitted that the real bone of contention was the renaming of the NWFP and not the recommended formation of the judicial commission for the appointment of judges in the superior judiciary.

    Today, Nawaz Sharif stands singled out politically and that too on a popular issue of correcting the disfigured Constitution. Not even a solitary political party shares his stand. He has never faced such isolation in the recent past. On the contrary, all the parliamentary groups, by and large, stand with the government in the sense that all of them back the proposed 18th Amendment. By supporting the package, they in fact are honouring their commitment that they demonstrated during the deliberations of the Raza Rabbani Committee. President Asif Ali Zardari must be excited with joy and excitement over seeing Nawaz Sharif pushed in a corner. As the situation has built up and the PML-N chief pushed in an embarrassing situation, he will have to review his stand that he took at his press conference without any delay or he would earn more flak in the days to come.

    He would be held as the sole person responsible if at the end of the day the good work done by the Rabbani Committee, including his own nominees, was consigned to the dustbin. He has to rise above petty political expediencies. The PML-N’s U-turn on the constitutional package is simply incomprehensible and is in bad taste too. The PML-N chief referred to the recommended procedure for the appointment of judges as the main point of disagreement which is simply unbelievable. The whole world knows that it was a settled issue as far as the constitutional committee was concerned but still Sharif opted to take refuge behind it to shy away from the real bone of contention — the renaming of the Frontier province. It would be in the greater interest of Pakistan if Mian Sahib backtracks what he said on Thursday, sits with Asfandyar Wali and settles the issue of renaming the NWFP, and should not press for any informal consultations with the Chief Justice of Pakistan on an issue that is the property of parliament.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=28002

  • Just when it seemed finally we may be getting somewhere, Nawaz Sharif decided nope, not yet – this saga needs another twist. And what great timing he had! With this plot in mind, just before the constitutional amendment bill was supposed to be signed, the PML-N chief backtracked on the party’s stance on the judge’s appointment issue and renaming of the NWFP.

    Where President Zardari can easily be criticised and constantly labeled as corrupt, here he would have come out the president under whom accomplishments such as an NFC award and Gilgit-Baltistan autonomy took place. The constitutional amendment package could have had a happy conclusion too if Sharif hadn’t thrown a fit last minute. By not supporting this amendment, he has automatically made himself the antagonist who some may feel is not happy about PPP taking credit for this historic bill. Among all the other not-so-great things Nawaz Sharif might be known for, now he is the leader of the party due to which the journey towards a major triumph has been stalled. Some might even ask if his perpetual criticism of Zardari is even legit now that he is the one who is coming between the movement towards progress.

    PML-N may have not expected Zardari would get rid off his powers, but since things didn’t go according to plan, Sharif perhaps panicked – one less thing for him to complain about during his press conferences.

    And the amount of fuss being thrown by Sharif’s party over renaming the NWFP makes it seem as if Punjab is being renamed! Will renaming the province “Pakhtoonkhwa” really wipe out the party in the province, as Sharif fears? Either way, Sharif is not ready to back down on this one and insists that the leadership should wait for consensus, even if it takes time. Taking too much time, however, may have other implications.

    The number of judges was increased by requests made by the PML-N but oh wait, the “mechanism” agreed for the judges’ appointment was unacceptable. The reforms package was finalised only after complete consensus so can the committee chairman Raza Rabbani really be blamed for being extremely frustrated? Can we really be blamed for having a lack of faith in certain indecisive leaders bent on ruling a nation that is aching for some sort of consistency and stability?

    The plot thickens
    POSTED BY SHYEMA ON 03 27TH, 2010
    Shyema Sajjad is a Desk Editor at Dawn.com
    http://blog.dawn.com/2010/03/27/the-plot-thickens/

  • “It seems that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif is conveying the message of someone else,” a senior PPP leader told Dawn.

    Mr Sharif on Thursday asked the government to delay the constitutional reforms package and consult the judiciary on judges’ appointment before presenting it in parliament.

    Interestingly, the procedure for judges’ appointment is the same as proposed in the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in May 2006. The committee on judicial reforms had already agreed to reconstitute the proposed judicial commission on PML-N’s calls for adding a retired judge of the Supreme Court as its seventh member.

    “Some forces do not want a strengthened parliament. At this juncture, the stand of Mr Sharif shows that he is in close contact with the forces that want a strong presidency,” the PPP leader said. “Such forces look beyond President Asif Ali Zardari,” he hastened to add.

    Mr Sharif’s ‘U-turn’ has shocked all political parties that left no opportunity to lament him on TV channels. Even his own party men appeared unable to defend their boss.

    A PML-N legislator is of the view that Mr Sharif, in fact, has to ‘succumb’ to the pressure of ‘some friends’ in the judiciary. “It is very difficult for Mr Sharif to take any major decision without consulting his new friend,” he commented.

    Another PML-N leader who also requested not to be named said some party hawks did not want to give credit to the PPP, especially President Zardari, for doing away with the controversial 17th Amendment. “Mr Sharif’s fresh stance is a reflective of the hawks’ viewpoint who think that after this controversy the PML-N will not be in a position to create further problems for the PPP,” he said.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/local/lahore/ppp-smells-a-rat-in-pmln-backtrack-730

  • Nawaz isolated as reform committee stands its ground
    By Ahmad Hassan
    27 Mar, 2010

    The 26-member panel parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms recognised the renaming of the NWFP as the only matter pending for incorporation into the draft of the 18th amendment and put off its deliberations till Wednesday.

    ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms rejected on Friday a proposal by Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss with the chief justice of Pakistan proposed amendment to the Constitution pertaining to appointment of superior court judges.
    The 26-member panel recognised the renaming of the NWFP as the only matter pending for incorporation into the draft of the 18th amendment and put off its deliberations till Wednesday after the PML-N sought more time to settle the issue with the Awami National Party.

    According to sources, the committee decided to take an initiative in this regard if the two parties failed to resolve the issue.

    The chairman of the committee, Mian Raza Rabbani, expressed his determination to protect the constitutional reforms proposed by representatives of the people.

    Haji Mohammad Adeel of the ANP likened PML-N’s U-turn to a drone attack on the committee.

    A majority of members were of the view that although the Supreme Court could interpret the Constitution, the lawmaking and amending the Constitution were the prerogative of parliament. They said involvement of the judiciary or any of its members in the process would be tantamount to breach of parliament’s privilege.

    Deviating from their earlier stand, PML-N’s representatives proposed in a note of dissent that the chief justice should appoint a retired judge of the Supreme Court as a member of the judicial commission. The committee had earlier agreed that the commission would appoint a retired judge of apex court as its seventh member and proposed an amendment to Article 177 of the Constitution for the purpose.

    The PML-N chief appeared isolated and even representatives of his party did not challenge the criticism of his sudden change of mind which had disrupted the planned signing of the constitutional document and presentation of the 18th amendment bill in parliament.

    Only Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi complained about some harsh statements made by ANP leaders, including Haji Adeel.

    Members from Balochistan and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement expressed resentment over the committee’s failure to propose maximum autonomy for the provinces in accordance with their demands.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/nawaz-isolated-as-reform-committee-stands-its-ground-730

  • Renaming NWFP
    Dawn Editorial
    Saturday, 27 Mar, 2010

    Nawaz Sharif’s bombshell on Thursday had everyone scrambling for an explanation. The PML-N chief himself wanted to talk about reopening the issue of the composition of the judicial commission that is to nominate judges for the superior judiciary. But few were convinced that was the real problem, especially given the chatter about the opposition of some of the party’s NWFP members to the inclusion of ‘Pakhtunkhwa’ in any new name for the province. It has subsequently become clear that the renaming issue is the main problem: yesterday, the PML-N agreed to attach a dissenting note to the judicial commission clause, and so the day before yesterday’s U-turn has been cancelled out by yesterday’s U-turn. Now there is just one issue that stands in the way of the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment: the name of the NWFP.

    Why does the PML-N care so passionately about the name of the NWFP? The answer, predictably, lies in politics: the PML-N believes it has a sizeable votebank in the non-Pakhtun Hazara region in the province and so wants to defend that constituency’s interests. If that were the full story, it would perhaps be understandable. But there’s more, and none of it paints the PML-N in a good light. First, the demographic data suggests that in the Hazara region, Pushto speakers are growing rapidly in numbers (even in Manshera, the population is divided between Pushto- and Hindko-speakers). Second, the Muslim League’s electoral strength in the region is no longer as solid as the PML-N’s stubbornness suggests. Third, the PML-N leaders involved in the process of negotiating the constitutional amendment package have throughout maintained that the renaming issue was not a deal-breaker and suggested that an agreement with the ANP would quickly be reached when the time for passing the constitutional reforms was near. Some in the PML-N leadership had even gone as far as privately assuring the ANP that a hyphenated name, perhaps Pakhtunkhwa-Abaseen or Abaseen-Pakhtunkhwa, was acceptable. And fourth, the PML-N has had nine months to sort out this issue, so why is the entire constitutional package being delayed on account of the NWFP’s name?

    Be that as it may, the PML-N and the ANP need to settle on a new name quickly. The Pustho- and Hindko-speaking people of the NWFP are as important as any other Pakistanis, but they are not more important than the rest of the country. The country needs the process of constitutional reform to be completed soon. The PML-N and ANP must not deny the rest of the country a substantial victory because the two parties cannot reach a compromise.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/renaming-nwfp-730

  • Sharif’s call for ‘consensus’ made little sense given the mode for the appointment of judges was one agreed to by his party with the PPP at the time they signed the Charter of Democracy. This of course is a document that Sharif has repeatedly and vociferously demanded should be implemented at all costs.

    http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=231126

  • With reports that the PML-N leader who suffered the most in the recent past, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, being the most neglected by the party at the moment, Hashmi is finding it appropriate to vent his grievances by attacking the advisers surrounding the PML-N leadership. I have mentioned in one of my previous articles that a group of over 25 PML-N parliamentarians are raising objections over the autocratic attitude of their “town-boy” (as they like to refer to Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan), and the team surrounding Nawaz for keeping them in the dark over various consultative meetings with the government. The group is gaining numbers and becoming more and more hostile, blaming Nisar and Ishaq Dar for misleading the party leadership.

    Leaving aside the notion that Nawaz is still living in 1990s or worst in the 1980s, their highly paid spin-doctors might have noticed that the PML-N is loosing its voters in Punjab. But Nawaz, like all other political dynasties of this country, seems to be following Oscar’s point of view that “Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign (read personal because Oscar fortunately was not a Pakistani) funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.”

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\03\27\story_27-3-2010_pg7_1

  • Nawaz Sharif has come up to his nature, deceiving the nation with his mean and cheap style of business politics. He is being dictated by his foreign masters who had taken him to KSA and dropping him in Lahore on 26.11.07 to be throned after the killing of Benazir Bhutto. He seemed shaky in deciding wether to take part in 2008 elections not because he wanted to restore judiciary or implement COD but he was sure that after the would be killing of Benazir Bhutto elections would be postponed sine di and he would emerge king when finally the polls would be held as planned by his foreign masters in the white house. The same house is backing the sheer unlawfulness of the judges.

  • Days of phone diplomacy are over: Nawaz

    LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif rejected on Saturday that a phone call prompted him to change his mind over the constitutional reforms package, and said the situation had changed in Pakistan and the days of diplomacy over the telephone are history. Nawaz made the comments while replying to a reporter’s question if he received a phone call by an outsider ahead of the press conference on Thursday. He said that he had not been given guidelines by anybody over the constitutional reforms package. Nawaz’s U-turn has sparked several new controversies, with political parties expressing divergent views on matters previously considered to have been settled. staff report

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20103\28\story_28-3-2010_pg1_2

  • Miliband called, discussed various issues: Nawaz

    LAHORE: While Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif confirmed that David Miliband called him over the phone on Saturday, he rejected the constitutional reforms package was discussed. According to a private TV channel, Nawaz said, “We talked about British assistance for Pakistan and other issues of bilateral interest… there were no discussions between the two of us on the political deadlock in the country.” He said reports about discussions on the appointment of judges were “baseless”. Replying to a question, Nawaz said there was nothing wrong with holding discussions with the judiciary. He said the 17th Amendment should have been abolished long ago. daily times monitor

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20103\28\story_28-3-2010_pg1_3

    Nawaz, Miliband discussed 18th Amend: PML-N

    LAHORE: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif over the telephone on Saturday to discuss the constitutional reforms package, according to a private TV channel. Talking to another channel, Punjab government spokesman Senator Pervaiz Rashid confirmed that Nawaz and Miliband discussed the deadlock over the constitutional reforms. “They talked about the deadlock over the constitutional reforms,” said Rashid. The British secretary hoped that the PML-N would play its role in ending the deadlock over the reforms. The channel said Britain was a guarantor of the Charter of Democracy, which was signed between the Pakistan People’s Party and the PML-N in London. daily times monitor

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20103\28\story_28-3-2010_pg1_4

  • The lion’s meek roar

    The Sharif brothers seem to be in habit of creating unnecessary controversies. And in doing so, they end up exposing their credentials rather baldly. In a press conference on Saturday, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif appeared to be unapologetic over his recent attempt at sabotaging the democratic process. Mr Sharif said that he had no regrets over his alleged u-turn on the constitutional reforms package and he stood by what he said on March 25. To the amazement of everyone, Mr Sharif blamed the PPP for the deadlock over the constitutional amendments by saying that the ruling party is “associating every issue with the 17th Amendment”. Maybe it is time to remind Mr Sharif that it is the PML-N itself that has associated every issue with the 17th Amendment and not any other political party. Being a two-time premier, Mian Nawaz Sharif is the only one who would be affected if that clause is not taken out of the 17th Amendment. Thus it does not make sense for the PML-N to blame this deadlock on the PPP. The PPP-led federal government has done a rather commendable job by forming a Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, which has representatives of all provinces and political parties in it. The PML-N, being the main opposition party, was no exception.

    As for the issue of the judicial reforms, it was at the behest of the PML-N that a seventh member was added to the judicial commission on the appointment of judges. The constitutional reforms committee conceded to that demand but now the PML-N chief has gone further to ask that the prime minister should consult the chief justice (CJ) on judicial matters and that the CJ should be authorised to appoint the seventh member. Mr Raza Rabbani is right in rejecting this proposal because the whole purpose of the judicial commission would be defeated. The logic behind having this commission is to ensure that there is a transparent mechanism in the appointment of judges by taking it out of the purview of any one person. Unfortunately, Mr Sharif’s strategy of escalating demands does not make any sense.

    What is equally ironic, if not downright funny, is Mr Sharif’s statement that the age of ‘phone diplomacy’ is over. He was referring to the rumours that his u-turn was the result of a mysterious phone call. If that were the case, then why would British Foreign Secretary David Miliband call him after the March 25 fiasco? According to Mr Sharif, there were no discussions between the two of them on the political deadlock in the country, but on the other hand, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed from the PML-N claimed otherwise. He said that Miliband and Sharif “talked about the deadlock over the constitutional reforms”. What can one make of these contradictory statements?

    It seems as if Mian sahib is not only playing politics but some other game is afoot as well. That Mr Sharif is trying to take the nation for a ride with his belligerent disregard for the country’s future cannot be denied. By trying to sabotage the democratic system, Mr Sharif is playing into the hands of the enemies of civilian supremacy. He is not doing the country, its people or the democratic process any favour by creating a fracas. Mr Sharif should take pause and not be part of any dark and sinister conspiracy. It would not only be detrimental for democracy but Mr Sharif’s future would be at stake too.

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\03\29\story_29-3-2010_pg3_1