Zardari must restore PM’’s constitutional powers to save his political career: Expert

March 15th, 2009 - 3:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad/Lahore, Mar.15 (ANI): A retired Lieutenant General of the Pakistan Army and well-known security and political analyst, has claimed that President Asif Ali Zardari can save his political career only if he hands over constitutional powers to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Lt. Gen. (retired) Talat Masood said Zardari has proved to be a disappointment as President so far.
People are very concerned about how their political leaders, especially Zardari, are handling affairs of state, he said.
He can only survive if he lets the prime minister take constitutional powers in the next 48 hours, The Times quoted him, as saying. The statement came as the Pakistan Army announced yesterday that its troops were on standby in case of violence at the mass demonstration in Islamabad on Monday. Zardari is close to facing a revolt from inside his party, as negotiations to end a standoff with opposition leaders failed to make headway.
Zardari has spurred dissent in the ruling Pakistan Peoples party (PPP) with his dictatorial handling of the crisis, which began last month when Nawaz Sharif, the opposition leader, was banned from holding public office and direct rule was imposed on his political heartland, Punjab, the countrys largest state.
Political analysts say Zardari, who came to power last year on a sympathy vote after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto, has further alienated voters with his heavy-handed clampdown on a nationwide protest by lawyers demanding the reinstatement of senior judges sacked in 2007.
More than 400 protesters have been arrested and main roads blocked to stop the lawyers going ahead with a long march to the capital, Islamabad, in their campaign for judicial independence.
Zardari is reported to have angered both Gilani and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani, by refusing to accept a compromise deal they had proposed to avert chaos.
Under the deal, backed by Britain and the US, the ban on Sharif, a former prime minister, and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, former chief minister of Punjab, from holding office would be lifted. It would also end direct rule in Punjab and reinstate Iftikar Chaudhry, the former chief justice, to a senior judicial role.
Last night, in what was seen in Islamabad as a significant concession by Zardari, a government spokesman said a review would be held of the Supreme Courts ban on Sharif and his brother holding office.
An emergency meeting of the ruling partys executive this weekend was postponed because of fears there would be too much dissent.
The unrest has led to fears that the army may intervene, reimposing military rule just a year after civilian authorities took power.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif has attempted to project himself as the voice of moderation when he said in Lahore that he was ready to work with Zardari, if the president stuck to his promises.
Doubts are growing about whether Zardari can meet the oppositions demands and survive a political backlash from his own party faithful.
He has already backtracked on three earlier pledges to reinstate Chaudhry because the former chief justice opposed an amnesty that absolved Zardari of corruption charges during his late wifes two terms as prime minister. (ANI)

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