President Musharraf last fall removed several judges from the Pakistan Supreme Court because they opposed his attempts to gain complete power. The judges were replaced by another set of judges who were sympathetic to the demands of the president. The Pakistan Muslim League-N- headed by Nawaz Sharif has taken up the fight to restore to power the judges who were sacked and being unable to get their ideas accepted by the current government led by the Pakistan People’s Party, they have resigned their posts. Nawaz said he had joined the coalition government on condition the judges would be restored. PPP co-chair, Asif Zardari, wants to move slowly on this issue. He fears trying to restore the judges would result in the current Pakistan Supreme Court declaring such an action to be illegal and creating a constitutional crisis.
This entire mess was created by President Musharraf’s original illegal action. Nawaz may well be playing to the court of public opinion by casting himself as a noble person who is fighting against the forces of evil. In a sense, he has transformed the PPP from a party opposing Musharraf into one that is supporting him. it is a rather clever ploy, but it runs the risk of creating turmoil at a time when Pakistan needs calm heads in order to deal with a host of problems including dealing with militants in northeast regions of the country.
Pakistani leaders meeting in London in an effort to resolve the conflict regarding the positon of judges fired by President Musharraf have yet to come to an agreement on how to handle the situation. Musharraf sacked judges last fall who opposed him including the head of the Pakistan Supreme Court. Asif Ali Zardari, widow of the slain Benazir Bhutto, is willing to allow the issue to dominate the current situation confronting his nation but Nawaz Sharif, who heads a key political party in the governing coalition, has made return of the judges a key issue. His goal is removal of Musharraf from the presidency and he believes restoring the judges to power will asisst in gaining that goal.
Zardari is no great supporter of Musharraf was wants to avoid a constitutional crisis that might result if the judges are returned to their former positions and attempts are made by Nawaz Sharif to use the power of the judiciiary to remove the president. At this point, Zardari is willing to allow judges appointed by Musharraf to replace those fired to be allowed to continue in office.
As many Democrats today urge Senator Clinton to step down, so do many Pakistanis urge Musharraf to step down and allow their nation to escape a constituional crisis. We suspect neither will walk away from power.