PPP readies to clip Musharraf’s powers

May 24th, 2008 - 9:53 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, May 24 (IANS) The Pakistan president’s powers to dismiss parliament and to appoint Supreme Court judges, governors and the chief election commissioner will be taken away under proposed constitutional amendments, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said Saturday. After the party’s central executive committee meeting, PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari told a press conference here that a 62-point package for the constitutional amendments is ready and will be discussed with the coalition partners and all other stake-holders.

Another important proposed amendment says any judge of the Supreme Court or the high courts validating any steps taken by “the dictator” will be charged with high treason.

“This will be considered violation of judges’ oath and this is not acceptable,” said Zardari.

He said his government wanted to resolve all disputes through dialogue and wants to take along all parties.

He said all deposed judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, would be reinstated and economic problems would be addressed.

Law Minister Farooq H. Naek, who was also present at the press conference, said the restored judges will have to take oath afresh.

Zardari warned critics against what he termed “preaching democracy to the PPP” and said the party had made “maximum sacrifices” before ascending to power.

He said the PPP was committed to restoring the constitution in its original form. “Some friends have advised me to adopt a short cut, but my legal team does not agree with the idea,” he said.

He stressed the PPP would not let the people down. “Shortly after coming to power, this government ended the detention of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and his family. Lawyers had been struggling for months for that without any success.”

Zardari, who heads the PPP jointly with his university-student son Bilawal, said: “The nation must trust us. We are working to strengthen democracy, revive national economy and restore democracy. We will also restore the judges.”

He expressed the hope that the package might come up for debate in parliament “before or after the budget”.

Stressing on reconciliation among all political parties, Zardari said: “After so many years (former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter) Priyanka Gandhi goes to a jail and meets those who were responsible for her father’s murder,” which shows now is the era of reconciliation and not of revenge.

“Former prime minister and my wife (Benazir Bhutto) used to say democracy is the best revenge,” he said.

About the PPP moving an impeachment motyion against President Pervez Musharraf, Zardari said: “We want him to walk away instead going for his impeachment motion.”

Without directly mentioning the movement of lawyers or civil society who want an early resolution of the judicial crisis, the PPP leader said: “Don’t coerce us and don’t tell us how to conduct politics. Let us take our own decisions.”

He said: “Nobody has offered more sacrifices for democracy than the PPP, which has so far lost five members of the Bhutto clan and is still shouting ‘Pakistan Khappay’ (Long Live Pakistan). It is ready to offer more sacrifices for achieving national objectives.”

It was decided to rename the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as Pakhtoonkhwa, a Pashto word for “the land of Pashtoons”.

He said Balochistan his government was talking to the “powers and we are for implementing an Alaska-type agreement under which the major share from the local resources will go to the local areas.”

He said his government was working for development of the less developed areas in the country and they will be involved in this development.

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