Rani Singh

Legal drama

Legal drama
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Supreme Court Bar Association President, and senior PPPP figure, Aitzaz Ahsan has just finished a second powerful and moving speech to the media in Lahore. It's the first day that press restrictions on him have been lifted since he was placed under house-arrest. He’s demanding the restoration of all deposed judges and calling for “A long march” by the legal community on March 9th, the day that Chief Justice Muhammad Chaudhry was suspended by President Musharraf in 2007, if they’re not released by then. Today, civil society demonstrators calling for the judges to be freed, chanted “Go Musharraf, go!”


The judges issue is a significant one. Their reinstatement is a key term that Nawaz Sharif wants any future coalition partners to agree to. Imran Khan (who called Zardari after his election win), agrees with Sharif. It was one of the reasons Khan gave for his party not participating in the elections. Shahid Dastgir Khan, England and Wales Supreme Court lawyer and UK representative for Imran Kahn’s party, told Coffee House yesterday evening he doesn’t think that Aitzaz Ahsan enjoys the full support of his PPPP compatriots.


While PPPP Co-Chair Asif Ali Zardari says he wants an “Autonomous and independent judiciary,” he doesn’t actually state that he wants the reinstatement of the deposed senior lawyers as a coalition partner condition. His primary demand is a UN probe into the assassination of his late wife Benazir Bhutto. “It is regrettable that he has not made the release of the lawyers a condition,” S.D. Khan said.


Preliminary counting is nearly done, final results are still coming in, but it’s clear that the PPPP and the PML (N) will have enough seats between them to form a majority government in the National Assembly.


Shahid Dastgir Khan sees between eight and fifteen PML (Q) members “Crossing over” to the PML (N).


Official numbers will be announced by the Election Commission on March 1st 2008; there may be some minor changes as one challenge to a result, on the basis of malpractice, has already been mounted.


There were reports this morning about Presidential aides having met Asif Ali Zardari in which a coalition was mooted, substituting other parties for the PML (N) of Nawaz Sharif but these reports have been flatly denied by the PPPP.


President Pervez Musharraf is digging his heels in and has announced today that he is not going to resign.


A PPPP Central Executive Committee Meeting has just finished and Zardari is hosting a reasonably good-humoured, slightly chaotic, press conference as I write. To a question about continuing price-hikes over the next few months, he has answered that he intends to involve the business community more in public-private partnerships to address such problems. He also discussed the judiciary.


In reaction to the election results, the Karachi Stock Exchange has closed at an all time high.