ISLAMABAD: Following his election as President on Saturday, Asif Ali Zardari hinted he may dilute the powers of his office in order to restore primacy to Parliament.
In a message to the nation on his victory, Mr. Zardari said he intended to restore the people’s trust and faith in the office of the President, which after a decade of non-democratic rule, was seen as “the centre of conspiracies” against the nation.
“I have been sent by the people of Pakistan to this office to fix the imbalances in the system, bring peace into the country and unite all democratic forces to consolidate the political system so that any other option of governance never finds its way in our nation’s life in the name of ‘doctrine of necessity’,” he said.
He urged all democratic forces to come forward and support him in the “mission to bring complete democracy’ in Pakistan.
“My presence in the office represents the ideals that the nation wants its political leadership to implement. I need everybody’s support for this objective. It’s a historical opportunity for all political forces to change the future direction of the country. We must rise above party lines to shut the doors on non-democratic forces, once and for all,” he said.
Later in the evening, flanked by his two daughters, he addressed party legislators at a celebratory iftaar dinner at the Prime Minister’s house. He congratulated them for the role they had played in the “victory of democracy’ and for defeating dictatorship. After being bitten on the issue of restoring the judges sacked by the former President, Pervez Musharraf, the PML (N) indicated it was in no mood to take up an offer by Mr. Zardari earlier in the week to Nawaz Sharif to rejoin the ruling coalition.
Instead of restoring all the judges unconditionally as demanded by the PML (N) and lawyers, the PPP has been reinstating them on condition that they take a new oath of office, which according to critics is to force them to accept their dismissal as valid. “There can be no relationship when there is no trust,” PML (N) spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told journalists outside Parliament. The party also made it clear that it would keep up political pressure on Mr. Zardari to strip down the presidency to a figurehead rather than as an executive. Mr. Iqbal said it was his party’s expectation that the new President would not “interfere” in the functioning of the government. “According to our original Constitution, the President has no executive functions,” said Mr. Iqbal, urging Mr. Zardari to lose no time in repealing the 17th amendment brought in by his General Musharraf to boost the powers of his presidency.
“If there is any delay in repealing or surrendering those powers, then it would certainly be a cause of concern for us,” said the PML (N) spokesman. Additionally, the PML (N) wants Mr. Zardari to give up his post as chairperson of the PPP. Urging Mr. Zardari to restore all the judges unconditionally, Mr. Rafiq demanded that Mr. Zardari be sworn in by Ifthikar Chaudhary after his reinstatement as Chief Justice rather than the present Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, who was appointed by the retired General Musharraf during the 2007 Emergency.
Information Minister Sherry Rehman said it was for the party to decide whether or not Mr. Zardari should continue as its co-chairman, but she underlined it was under him that the party had made a comeback after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. While Mr. Zardari won 481 votes out of a total of 702 in the Electoral College, PML (N) candidate Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui got 153 votes. The PML (Q) candidate Mushahid Hussain Sayed got 44 votes, an indication that many of its legislators had cross-voted.
6 months ago