PAKISTAN CREATES HISTORY
Elected Goverment Completes Full 5 Year Term
NISAR AHMAD THOKAR
Islamabad, Mar 17: At the stroke of midnight Sunday, Pakistan made history.
It marked the first time a democratically-elected government served a full five-year term in the country’s 65-year tumultuous history.
After completing its five-year constitutional term, Pakistan National Assembly, sworn in on 17 March 2008, was dissolved late Sunday night paving way for holding next general elections in the country this year.
“Despite all the odds, completion of the term is an extraordinary and historic achievement,” Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said in an address to the nation Saturday night.
Ashraf said his country has a long history of confrontation between democratic and non-democratic forces, but that democracy has now notched a victory.
In the next few days, a caretaker government will be put in place to oversee the country through its next elections scheduled for May.
The government and opposition (PML-N) proposed three candidates each for interim prime minister. PML-N proposed Justice (retired) Nasir Aslam Zahid, Justice (retired) Shakirullah Jan and nationalist leader Rasool Bux Palijo – for the top slot, whereas the PPP’s nominees are Justice (retired) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, Dr Ishrat Hussain and Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh. Later, both the parties withdrew the names of Dr Hafeez Sheikh, a former finance minister and Justice (retired) Shakirullah Jan from the proposed list.
Following the dissolution of National Assembly the outgoing PM and leader of the opposition are constitutionally bound to appoint a consensus candidate for the slot of interim Prime Minister within a time frame of three days, otherwise the matter would be referred to parliamentary committee comprising of four members each from opposition and the government. The committee is also bound to decide the matter in three days and if the committee fails the interim Prime Minister would be finally selected by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Pakistani newspapers noted the historic nature of the changeover in a country known for political upheaval and long bouts of military rule, while attacking the outgoing government's record on the economy and security. Major issues in Pakistan's upcoming election
“For the first time in the history of this country, an elected government has completed its tenure in office; and to that extent it can be said that history has been made,” said an editorial in The News.
The government managed to stay in power despite frequent showdowns with Pakistan's powerful Army and an increasingly interventionist Supreme Court that pursued top officials.
The military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half its 66-year history through coups or from behind the scenes, has long regarded the civilian rulers as corrupt and incompetent.
Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, however, has vowed to keep the military out of politics and there are no signs the generals are backing any particular party for the poll.
During its five-year term, the present government witnessed challenging moments and tumultuous events, where it could have been difficult for the PPP to stay in power, however, President Asif Ali Zardari who emerged as a shrewd politician on the political horizon of the country played his cards so wisely and did not allow his rivals to exploit the situation. Adhering to the much trumpeted policy of reconciliation Zardari did not even hesitate in establishing alliance with his arch rivals just to thwart any move of the opposition parties.
Apart from reconciliation and maneuvering tactics by PPP, the credit goes to the judiciary, armed forces of Pakistan as well as the opposition parties who played key role in strengthening democracy and the democratic institutions in Pakistan, political observers opine.
The PPP could face stiff competition in the election from opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who was toppled by a military coup in 1999, as well as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
Former military leader General Pervez Musharraf is expected to return from self-exile in Dubai on March 24 to take part in the election.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST
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