Constitutional Crisis In Pakistan

Turmoil in Pakistan continued as a three judge court appointed under the administration of President Musharaff denied former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the right to run for parliament in an upcoming by-election. Nawaz, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-N, had returned to Pakistan along with Benazir Bhutto with the understanding past misdeeds would be forgotten and he could participate in politics. The court ruling was based on a prior conviction before the coup led by President Musharraf. AS Nasim Zahra of Harvard noted, “The ruling will undermine, in a major way, the effort for national reconciliation.”

Nawaz Sharif has been allied with Asif Ali Zardari, husband of the slain Benazir Bhutto, in a combined effort to restore parliamentary government to Pakistan. They both agree that judges who were discharged by President Musharraf would be restored to office, and those who replaced them would be discharged. However, Zardari has proceeded at a slower pace since he wants to deal with the entire court issue as part of a package dealing with constitutional reform. This latest example of Musharraf judges interfering with political life will runs the risk of ending the coalition and creating more turmoil.