International Affairs Forum:
The Pakistani government has set a deadline of May 12 for restoring judges ousted by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Do you think they should be reinstated, and what are the implications for Musharraf's leadership if they are?
Of course, the deposed judges must be reinstated. That's a question of the survival of Pakistan, because no country could survive without justice.
On 9th March, 2007, one man, who was previously also the part of PCO (Provisional Constitutional Order) and Doctrine of Necessity, stood up in the face of redoubtable tyranny and said 'No'. That 'No' was the moment the nation was waiting for. They cheered when lawyers took the batons and tear gas of rogue police, and they nodded when civil society rallied behind the justice. They were more than happy to raise slogans behind Benazir Bhutto, when she said that her party would hoist the flag of Pakistan once again at the house of Justice Iftikhar, and they voted when Nawaz Sharif took oath from his party ticket holders for the restoration of judiciary. May 12th is the day when either PDA (the coalition of the Pakistan Muslim Leage (N) and Pakistan Peoples Party) will remain or a new struggle of the judiciary will be started.
The impasse over the reinstatement of judiciary between PML-N and PPP has opened up a window of opportunity for the forces of the status quo. These forces have gotten over their grief and ended their wound-licking and are now ready to fight back and strike back.
What do you think about the start made by the coalition government?
This government was under pressure from the word go by the U.S. in regard to its war on terror. The U.S. thinks that without Musharraf, the war on terror would backfire on the U.S., and that is why the U.S. is hell bent on keeping Musharraf at every cost. The reinstatement of the judiciary means the ouster of Musharraf, and that is why the U.S. wants [PPP Co-chairman] Zardari to part ways with the PML-N and align with the PML-Q of Musharraf. This government hasn't started yet because within a few days the formation of the government and opposition will be altogether changed.
Do you get a sense that it has a lot of public support?
Right now, despite horrendous food, power and gas shortages, people are giving time for this government and waiting for their decision regarding the restitution of the judiciary. If both PPP and PML-N solve this amicably according to the wishes of the people and according to their promise in the Murree Declaration, then it will be
OK. Otherwise it will be a mayhem.
The government has been talking to the Pakistan Taliban leader Beitullah Mehsud. Are such talks a good idea?
As the center of the Amir of Tehreek-i-Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, announces the end of negotiations with government officials, Pakistanis across the country once again become very apprehensive about their security.
It seems that this government is running around in a circle. They changed the 'war on terror' policy and now, once again, have reverted back to the previous track. Musharraf's policy of using brute force and allowing drones to carpet bomb the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] was abolished by the PDA government. The Awami National Party (ANP) publicly denounced this approach and not only announced plans for dialogue to end the crisis, but also went about doing so. They formed a jirga and started talking with the Taliban. As a result, in a matter of days, the Taliban stopped their militant activities in Pakistan, and they also announced a ceasefire.
The United States was ill at ease with these peace efforts. According to them, the dialogue process was giving breathing space to Al-Qaida and it was using it to regroup. That idiot Bush said that Al-Qaida had gained their pre-9/11 power once again. A plethora of clowns like John Negroponte, Richard Boucher, Javier Solana and Anne Patterson stormed the leadership of PPP and ANP, and now, under immense pressure, the
negotiations have stopped and the ceasefire from the Taliban also has been lifted.
The Taliban have cited the reason for doing so as being because of the dishonest and disinterested attitude from government officials. So where is the change? If a democratic and elected government has bowed down before the U.S. like the dictatorial government, then what's the difference? It simply means that we have elected new slaves.
On a separate issue, a U.S. commission on religious freedom expressed serious concerns over religious freedom in Pakistan. Is this fair?
They simply don't know the realities on the ground here. They should read the pakspectator.com to get a feel of what Pakistan is all about!
The Pakistan Spectator can be read at: www.pakspectator.com
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