Saturday, April 5, 2008

Workers and SAC demo tomorrow at Data Darbar at 4 pm

The Student Action Committee in collaboration with trade unions, working women’s unions, political parties and various groups of society is holding a demonstration regarding the recent price hike.

An alliance forged after years of alienation, students and laborers will stand together for the same cause: the pressure on the average Pakistani to acquire and maintain basic necessities like food and energy.

Sunday 6th April at 4 pm outside the Data Sahib Mazaar, the SAC alongside workers and other concerned individuals will present their demands to the newly formed government to find a sustainable solution to persistent food inflation and energy shortages.

Recognizing that the interim government as well as the eight year regime contributed mostly to the rising costs of living, this alliance between students and workers aims to highlight the power that the new government possesses via the mandate of the people.

Representatives from various workers unions and such have been invited to come and give short talks on the present price hike in the country. An issue like inflation and energy crisis spans across the countries ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries and allows people to stand up for their rights from a grass roots level.

Those participating in this demonstration will aim to engage as many people from the surrounding areas as a part of the effort to work together to resolve national problems rather than outlining them in isolated meetings.

The Student Action Committee is planning to work towards expanding nationwide with chapters in all universities and eventually participate in upcoming union elections. Student unions world wide provide a platform for young leaders to explore their political identities without having to work under a mainstream political party or follow a party agenda: the SAC will work towards the purification of student politics in Pakistan and will follow a non partisan and non violent approach towards the newly re-established student unions.

Musharraf's survival strategy: remain low-key

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has no plans to quit despite the formation of hostile government and will play a low-key role as part of a strategy framed a long time ago, a presidential aide has said. The "perceived isolation" of Musharraf and his sidelining after the swearing-in of the new government had not happened in a "haphazard way but is the result of a well thought out strategy", the aide claimed.

"It was decided a long time ago that Musharraf would take a backseat after the 2008 general election and he has done so as per the plan," the unnamed aide told The News daily. "Everything was executed as per the script," the aide claimed, adding that Musharraf's moves were part of the plan for the "phased restoration of democracy".

"There is no shock for the president in the new milieu except for the defeat of the (PML-Q)," he said. The Pakistan People's Party and PML-N have formed a coalition government with the backing of two smaller parties and independent lawmakers following the defeat of pro-Musharraf PML (Q)in the February 18 polls.

He categorically said Musharraf had no plans to step down. Everything went as per the strategy, though considerable disruption was caused by the "judicial crisis" following the sacking of 60 members of the superior judiciary during last year's emergency, the aide said.

Zardari offers gubernatorial post to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry

From ANI

Lahore, Apr 4: PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has reportedly offered a gubernatorial post to the country's deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhary, after forcing him "retire" on superannuation in June.

He is learnt to have been offered the position of Balochistan Governor.

Zardari made the offer through Iftikhar's counsels Aitzaz Ahsan, Athar Minallah, and Munir A Malik at a dinner last night, reported the Daily Times.

Reliable sources say that the new PPP-led government was planning to bring a new law restricting the Chief Justice's term to three years, as a result of which Justice Choudhary's services would superannuate in June, as he completes his three years in the post in the same month.

Had Choudhary not picked a fight with President Pervez Musharraf last year, he would have continued as Chief Justice till 2013. Musharraf wants to see Justice Choudhary's service to be terminated because the latter has repeatedly said that he would reinstate the pre-November 7 Constitution if reinstalled in the post.

A section to Pakistani press today reported that the new Pakistan government was planning to bring a new legislation to ease out the Chief Justice, though it would reinstate other Supreme Court judges.

Copyright Asian News International

Zardari issues 'charge-sheet'

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has issued a long charge-sheet against the deposed superior court judges, saying they never came to his rescue and were responsible for his eight years in jail.

In the clearest indication that the PPP may not stand by the Murree Declaration to restore the judges, the PPP leader told his central executive committee in Naudero that he was not interested in the restoration of personalities but wanted a judicial reforms package.

Analysts said things were getting complicated for Zardari, both within the PPP and outside, as he was moving closer to allies of President Musharraf and drifting away from his coalition partner Nawaz Sharif.

As Zardari issued his charge-sheet against the judges, Makhdoom Amin Fahim demanded the disbandment of the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians which he heads. Others in the PPP blasted the party leadership's decision to join hands with the MQM.

On the other hand, the PML-N is determined not to compromise on the issue of restoration of the deposed judges through a resolution in the National Assembly. The party says it seeks strict adherence to the Murree Declaration and would not accept any formula or constitutional amendment that restores all the deposed judges minus chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

"After gaining so much because of the political initiative that Zardari has taken in the recent weeks, the PPP co-chairperson is on the verge of losing all," a senior PPP leader told this correspondent from Naudero, revealing the situation in the interior Sindh was extremely tense after Zardari's visit to the MQM headquarters popularly known as Nine Zero.

In a post-dinner gathering of the PPP's central executive committee, the source said, many PPP leaders minced no words in criticising Zardari's decision to woo the MQM. PPP MNA Shugufta Jamani and Sethi Ishaq were among those who expressed strong resentment and wondered how the PPP could join hands with the MQM, which was responsible for the killing of PPP workers.

"The Sindhi people have not given a mandate to Zardari to thrust upon them his personal agenda of humiliation in the name of reconciliation," a PPP leader told The News, adding, "We strongly oppose and condemn the PPP-MQM coalition in Sindh."

The leader asked: "Who caused the May 12th incident? Who was behind the Oct 18 blast? Who killed Murad Baloch and Munawar Suhrawardy? But you still went to the Nine Zero to express solidarity with the MQM against the wishes of the nation. Now it's time for us to rethink our support for you, Mr Zardari," said the source, who sounded quite disturbed.

"There is a wave of anger," a PPP leader said. The likes of Raja Pervez Ashraf, Shah Mehmud Qureshi, Jahangir Badr, however, showered Zardari with praises and called him a great leader. Badr even crossed all limits by saying that the PPP had become more popular under Zardari.

Zardari, however, defended his party's rapprochement with the MQM and termed it a sensible political move having far-reaching impact. He said he wanted to open all political avenues for his son, Bilawal, and never liked to see the doors of Nine Zero closed for him. He said the MQM would be forming a government with the PPP.

Aitzaz Ahsan, who sought the restoration of the deposed judges, told the meeting that it would be in the interest of the party to get the judges restored.

Zardari, according to sources, came hard on the issue of the judges� restoration. According to one source, Zardari snubbed the widely-respected lawyer leader and said he knew the worth of the judges whose restoration was being sought by the lawyers' community.

Zardari said these were the same judges who had earlier taken oath under the PCO and validated the military rule. Referring to his jail life, a source quoted him as saying that he was let down by these judges, who had even refused to release him on parole to attend the funeral of his nephew. He said he was allowed only a two-hour parole despite Farooq H Naek's pleading before the same judges.

He said the then Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed had also refused him a parole. He termed the same judiciary biased, which he said was responsible for his eight years in jail. Party sources reported that Asif Ali Zardari was quite emotional while speaking on the judges' issue. One source said he talked of the restoration of the judges but linked it to a constitutional package. He said the party was interested in the independence of the judiciary and not in personalities.

A party leader said he was disappointed to hear what he termed the charge-sheet issued by the PPP co-chairperson against the deposed judges. According to him, almost 60 per cent of the co-chairman's speech was on Aitzaz Ahsan and the judges.

While the PPP is clearly seen connecting the judges restoration issue with a constitutional package, the PML-N is determined not to budge from what had been agreed between the two parties in Murree on March 9, 2008.

"We don't accept the 'Minus-One Formula' or any such solution that excludes Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry," PML-N minister Ahsan Iqbal told this correspondent, adding the "Minus-One Formula" would mean accepting March 9, 2007 Gen Musharraf's action of suspending chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as legitimate.

Ahsan said as per the Murree Declaration, the deposed judges would be restored through a resolution. Ahsan categorically said that the question of any constitutional amendment for the judges' restoration did not arise.

Ahsan said the coalition was committed to the Murree Declaration and clarified that the PML-N was not averse to a mutually-agreed constitutional package having no link with the restoration of the judges.

(Courtesy The News)