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The PM’s clout

While the trio of Nawaz Sharif,Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry hogged the limelight last week in Pakistan...

Written by Ruchika Talwar | Published: March 28, 2009 10:27:49 pm

While the trio of Nawaz Sharif,Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry hogged the limelight last week in Pakistan,Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is enjoying being under the spotlight this week. President Asif Zardari has apparently appointed Gilani as the go-between in the reconciliation with Sharif. Daily Times on March 23 reported: “PM Gilani is a credible interlocutor for Sharif. He has gained this trust at the risk of generating rumours of a rupture between his pacific personality and the putatively more combative President Zardari.”

One of the possible outcomes of these negotiations is the restoration of the PMLN government in Punjab. The News confirmed this on March 23: “The Shahbaz Sharif government in Punjab may be restored this week as a result of the Gilani-Sharif meeting. The government will move the Supreme Court to grant a stay order against the earlier decision to disqualify the Sharif brothers. With the stay order most likely to be granted,the Shahbaz government might be restored automatically without any requirement of a new vote of confidence or election of a new leader of the House. More than 50 per cent ‘irritants’ between the two parties would stand removed.” The News added an interesting dimension to Gilani’s Raiwind trip. On March 24,it reported: “Gilani’s decision not to take anyone else from his cabinet to Raiwind may raise some eyebrows but it reflects his isolation at one level and lack of space to operate with a team on the other. Gilani flew out alone,fearing if anyone accompanied him,President Zardari might accuse him of forming his own group. On the other hand,Gilani did not want any of Zardari’s aides to go with him. Either Gilani does not trust his ministers or thinks they are not competent enough to advise him,or he believes he has just one adviser whose name is Zardari. This is just a tactical retreat on the part of Zardari. Rest assured; he is not a man who would sit silently,he will definitely return to strike with a vengeance and no one knows who would be his first target: an assertive Gilani or the government of Shahbaz Sharif.”

Journalists killed

In two separate incidents,two journalists were shot dead in Pakistan. On March,23,Dawn mourned the death of its young staffer: “Armed robbers killed Dawn News reporter Malik Tariq Javed in Lahore when he resisted them.” The assassination of another reporter on March 26 compounded the fears of journalists in Pakistan. The Nation,for which the deceased worked,reported on March 27: “Some unidentified persons gunned down a senior reporter of The Nation and Waqt TV Channel,Raja Assad Hameed,on Thursday night at his residence.”

Help us help you

As Pakistan awaits the highly anticipated Af-Pak strategy review today,Dawn spelled out the solution to the crisis in Pakistan. Its March 27 editorial states: “The rise of militancy correlates critically to economic conditions. So what is the single most important thing America can do to help Pakistan’s sliding economy and,at the same time,restrain militancy? The answer in a nutshell: help build our industry. More specifically,the US must give Pakistani textile exports greater access to its market. The Pakistan government and textile exporters here have been urging Washington to do this ever since Islamabad joined the war on terror in 2001. The US has been resisting the demand all along in spite of clear evidence of the adverse impact of the war on terror on Pakistan’s textile industry.” Meanwhile,Daily Times on March 27 reported a telephonic chat between President Barack Obama and Zardari. “They discussed bilateral relations,the security situation of the region,and other matters of mutual interest.”

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