March 21, 2009 12:59:47 am
Pakistans press is exulting at the restoration of Chief Justice Chaudhry in the wee hours of March 16,by PM Yousaf Raza Gilani. The Daily Times editorial on March 17 hailed the march that was the means to the much-awaited end: Democracy and its politics have won the day. The deadlock has been broken through a political decision to accommodate each other. The purists who still fear backsliding and hidden agendas have been ignored by the celebration that has followed the decision to call off the Long March. The News has been more hard-hitting than others,which led to the censorship of Geo TV,its sister concern. It viewed in its editorial on March 17: We are perhaps beginning to see the start of a popular and cross-party movement aimed not so much at the restoration of the judiciary which for many ordinary citizens is something of an irrelevance; as at the removal of a deeply unpopular president. The president seems increasingly detached from reality,being quoted as saying that he will fight the lawyers alone if necessary. Hardly the words of a man with a grip on popular sentiment. Ministers have resigned and more may follow. Prime Minister Gilani seems to be the man who is keeping his head whilst others around him are losing theirs and contrary to popular belief we are not seeing Pakistan fall apart.
Two casualties which the PPP in its new avatar under Asif Zardari can ill-afford are Sherry Rehman and Raza Rabbani. Rehman held key positions in the party and government: she served as the minister for information,information secretary of PPP and the spokeswoman of the government. Rabbanis position,though of an advisory nature to the fledgling chairman of PPP,was of minister for inter-provincial coordination and he was also the leader of the House in the Senate. As the partys popularity ratings nosedived,these two senior leaders of party,considered among the few sane voices remaining in PPP, resigned for reasons well known. On March 17,Kamran Shafi in Dawn lauded their bravery: Sherry Rehman,who being the gentlewoman that she is,finally had enough of the shenanigans of Mr President and the coterie that surrounds him and resigned from the cabinet for the reason that the government in another knee-jerk reaction put restrictions on a private TV channel. I salute her; and as someone who in the past has served the great political entity called the Pakistan Peoples Party for well on a quarter century,ask if there arent more like her. It would be remiss of me not to mention that great gentleman Raza Rabbani with appreciation too. I salute him for resigning his cabinet position and as leader of the house in the Senate,and ask once again if there arent more gentlemen in the party who will stand up like him,and say enough is enough. In the end,another heartfelt thank you to President Zardari for making the Long March more effective than it ever could have been.
After assessing the damage their exit has caused to the party,Daily Times reported on March 18: President Asif Ali Zardari has initiated efforts for reconciliation within the PPP in a bid to bring estranged party leaders back into mainstream. Zardari has invited Raza Rabbani for a meeting. Similarly,senior party leaders who have been supporting the restoration of the sacked judges especially Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan are also likely to be brought back into the partys mainstream. However,some leaders in the PPP have launched a campaign to isolate former information minister Sherry Rehman for taking a stand on the independence of media. They say Sherry had put the party in an embarrassing situation at a crucial time. As if to confirm this,Daily Times added on March 19: President Zardari appointed Fauzia Wahab the partys new information secretary in place of Sherry Rehman. The sources said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had offered Sherry another cabinet post after she resigned as information minister but the offer was declined.
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