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Comedy of errors

A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press

Written by Ruchika Talwar |
June 30, 2012 1:03:43 am

A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press

Comedy of errors

WAS it confusion or a bad joke or capitulation — these were the questions doing the rounds in the Pakistan media this week. The curious case of Sarabjeet and Surjeet raised hopes and later,tempers. Newspapers reported the next day what TV had covered minute-by-minute as soon as it was announced that Sarabjeet Singh will be released from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Every newspaper reported the “happy news” that Sarabjeet was to be released. The jubilation spread across TV news channels like wild fire on June 26,only to be marred by a late-night “clarification” that the celebration was only partly justified. While an Indian prisoner was to be released,it was Surjeet Singh and not Sarabjeet Singh.

This triggered a debate in the newspapers on why and how such damage could be inflicted on the already-weak fibre of India-Pakistan relations. An editorial in Dawn on June 28 argued that “all too often,Pakistan and India throw up examples of why normalising relations between the two countries is so difficult… In the absence of a formal confirmation,but supported by Pakistani officials with an unfortunate knack for mixing up names,the two countries debated the merits of transferring Sarabjeet Singh to Indian custody.” An editorial in The Express Tribune said: “The trend in Pakistan is to take the conduct of foreign policy out of the domain of the executive and make it subservient to public emotion through TV channels and parliament.”

Presidential aegis

THERE has been little doubt about the patronage provided to former Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani by president and party boss Asif Ali Zardari. Daily Times reported on June 25: “President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday promulgated an ordinance to give constitutional protection to all decisions made by former PM Gilani between April 26 — when he was convicted of contempt — and his dismissal on June 19,to prevent the ex-premier’s actions taken during the past two months from being challenged in any Pakistani court… It said that no… legal proceedings… should lie in any court… against any order made or functions performed by the former premier.”

Pakistan’s Constitution empowers the president,under Article 89,to promulgate ordinances,which means this cannot be thrown out by the judiciary.

Swiss stopwatch

THE ghost of the “Swiss letter” continues to lurk. When Gilani lost his job for not writing a letter to the Swiss government so that corruption cases against Zardari could be reopened,it was obvious that the next occupant of the PM’s office would be asked to do so.

The News reported on June 28: “The court directed Attorney General Irfan Qadir to consult the PM and submit a reply on his behalf by July 12… The new PM was elected last week and we trust him to implement the decision of the court.” A report in The Express Tribune said: “The government,it is believed,is also contemplating changing the law of contempt to provide immunity to both the offices of the president and the premier. However,a source,who attended Thursday’s briefing at the foreign office,said the law minister denied these speculations vehemently.”

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