Time to move forward: Zardari

March 21st, 2009 - 6:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, March 21 (IANS) With his back to the wall in face of the fast improving relations between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has called for reconciliation, saying “it is time to forget the past”.
“It is time to look forward and build on what has been achieved. It is time to forget the past. It is time to move on,” APP quoted Zardari as saying at a dinner Friday night in honour of outgoing Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, who retired Saturday.

The statement came four days after Zardari capitulated to a lawyers’ protest led by Sharif to demand the restoration of the judges then president Pervez Musharraf had sacked after imposing an emergency Nov 3, 2007.

The decision also saw the reinstatement Saturday of Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as Pakistan’s chief justice.

Gilani gained considerable mileage from his deft handling of the crisis, while Zardari’s reputation, already in tatters, was further dented.

Ever since the crisis ended Monday, Gilani has been repeatedly reaching out to Sharif and has even declared he would welcome the former prime minister’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to the government.

This issue is likely to figure when Gilani and Sharif meet for lunch at the latter’s country villa on the outskirts of Lahore Sunday.

Once the PML-N returns, the government would gain the two-thirds majority it needs to repeal the controversial 17th amendment Musharraf had pushed through in 2003 to transfer key powers to the presidency from the prime minister’s office.

These powers relate to the appointment of the service chiefs and the chief justice, as also to dismiss the federal and provincial governments, parliament and the assemblies.

Once the amendment is repealed, Zardari would be left with only ceremonial powers.

Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the PML-N had formed a coalition after their one-two finish at the February 2008 general elections and had even agreed on a governance agenda that included the restoration of the sacked judges and the repeal of the 17th amendment.

The PML-N, however, walked out after Zardari reneged on the twin pledges.

Now, in a bid to regain the moral high ground on the judges’ issue, Zardari said at the dinner: “It has been our vision that the institutions should grow and gain strength through evolution and continuity. However, our vision may not have been shared by all. Some were even critical. This is the price leaders have to pay.”

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