Zardari, Sharif nix Saudi attempts at brokering peace

January 22nd, 2009 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Nawaz SharifIslamabad, Jan 22 (IANS) Saudi Arabia’s efforts to broker peace between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seem to have come to naught as the duo and their parties continue to take pot shots at each other.In the Saudi way of thinking, Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (Nawaz) should stay together for at least the next 18 months till the country’s political scenario stabilised.

“Don’t disturb the present political arrangement,” was the message Saudi intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz delivered to Zardari and Sharif during his visit here earlier this, a report in The News daily Thursday said.

“Let the PPP government in Islamabad and the PML-N’s in the Punjab function without interruption, as it will bring stability to the country. The friends of Pakistan can deal with foreign pressures and threats in a more mature manner,” the message maintained.

Just how seriously the message has been taken can be gauged from the manner in which the PPP and the PML-N repeatedly clashed in the National Assembly on Wednesday, accusing each other of insincerity over implementing the Charter of Democracy (CoD) they had agreed to before the February 2008 general elections, on repealing the controversial 17th amendment to the constitution and on restoring the judges former military dictator Pervez Musharraf had sacked after declaring an emergency in November 2007.

The two parties had contested the general elections in alliance and had formed the government after their one-two finish at the polls but fell apart on the question of restoring the sacked judges.

The PML-N wants the unconditional reinstatement of the sacked judges. Zardari is wary of this as he fears that sacked Supreme Court chief justice Ifthikar Mohammad Chaudhury, if restored, could reopen the corruption cases against him that had been closed as part of deal that saw him and his slain wife Benazir Bhutto return home from exile in October 2007.

The PML-N is equally firm on revoking the 17th Amendment that Musharraf had pushed through and which gives the presidency sweeping powers, including those to dismiss the government and dissolve parliament.

Zardari, on his part, is known to be keen on transferring the presidency’s powers to the prime minister’s office and then occupying that position.

As The News put it, the Saudi message “was discounted by both the recipients, who continue to indulge in settling scores, much to the disappointment of those trying to bridge the yawning gap between the two major political parties”.

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