August 8, 2008

Pakistan TV Show Discusses Ruling Alliance’s Decision to Impeach Musharraf

Karachi Geo News television in Urdu at 1600 GMT on 7 August relays live regularly scheduled "Today with Kamran Khan" program. Noted Pakistani journalist Kamran Khan reviews, discusses and analyzes major day-to-day developments with government ministers and officials, opposition leaders, and prominent analysts in Geo TV's flagship programme.

Program: "Today with Kamran Khan"

Reception: Good

Duration: 120 minutes

Today's special edition of programme is on the Pakistan ruling alliance's decision to initiate impeachment process against President Pervez Musharraf.

Kamran Khan says: all parties in Pakistan's coalition government have decided to impeach President Pervez Musharraf and now [suspended] judges would be restored according to the Murree declaration signed by Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif [through an executive order] only after Musharraf's impeachment. Continuing, Khan says: the ruling alliance has charged that Musharraf did not take a vote of confidence from the newly-elected National Assembly, he did not address the parliament and Pakistan is faced with an economic crisis because of Musharraf's economic policies. Khan says: a new charge-sheet against Musharraf will be presented in the National Assembly and all four provincial assemblies would pass a no- confidence motion against Musharraf in next few days and ask him to defend himself in the National Assembly.

Khan says: "President Musharraf has said that he would defend himself and he has 100 per cent rejected the possibility that he would resign and he also has rejected the possibility that he would silently watch the developing situation."

Khan adds: according to the Constitution, the president could be impeached only when he is mentally or physically //unfit// or he has committed a major violation of the Constitution. Continuing, Khan says: Musharraf's close aides are saying that he appears "very strong" when faced with such pressures and he knows how to face challenges and he would also face the present challenge. Khan adds that Musharraf himself had told him an interview [in October 2007 when Musharraf was under intense pressure to resign] that he would not run away from the challenges, he would face the challenges. Continuing, Khan says: Musharraf today held consultations with his legal advisers and examined whether he can use Article 58-2B [of Constitution empowering him to dissolve the National Assembly] and Musharraf's assistants are saying that Musharraf had in his mind the worsening economic situation in last five months, situation at Pakistan's borders, and the government decision on ISI [to put ISI under Interior Ministry], and foreign interest in Baluchistan insurgency when he mentioned Article 58-2B.

Khan says: one opinion among observers is that the impeachment process may not be "//smooth//" and problems may arise in it.

Segment I

[Kamran Khan's interview with Ms Sherry Rehman, federal minister for information and broadcasting, via telephone line from Islamabad]

Kamran Khan asks Ms Sherry Rehman whether the ruling coalition partners are confident that the impeachment process will run smoothly, or would there be some bumps on the way. Rehman says: Pakistan People's Party [PPP] and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sharif [PML-N] are now united that "this step, although regrettable for the country, is imperative for the consolidation of democracy" at this "decisive moment" in Pakistan's history. Rehman adds: Asif Ali Zardari had hinted in the past that such an action would be taken if democratic institutions are not allowed to function freely. On Khan's question whether the impeachment process would be smooth or bumpy, Rehman says: the government wants to see that the process runs through smoothly and it feels "quite //comfortable//" that it has required numbers in parliament.

Khan says the ground realities are that Pakistan's establishment, which includes Pakistan's Army, has an interest and has an important role in such issues and Pakistan's allies like the United States have shown direct interest in the issue. Khan asks whether an effort was made to explain to the Pakistan establishment, Army and America the rationale of the decision [to impeach Musharraf]. Rehman says: Pakistan's democratic forces have the mandate to take decisions and coalition partners - PPP, PML-N, Awami National Party and Jamiyat-i- Ulema-i- Islam-(Fazlur Rahman) and independent members of parliament from Federally Administered Tribal Areas agree with the decision, which has been taken after deep reflection. Rehman adds: every step from now onward will be taken after considering all "pros and cons" and effort would be made at every step that Pakistan's political stability is maintained. Regarding American stand, Rehman says: a statement has come from US officials that "it is Pakistan's internal and domestic affair, which I think is the right //position// because Pakistan is a //sovereign// country and its sovereignty should be respected." Regarding Pakistan Army's stand, Rehman says: Army's "// professional position//" has emerged and its leadership has stated that it is now an absolutely professional army and it only wants to insure Pakistan's security and territorial integrity. When asked whether the government is re-evaluating the Inter Services Intelligence [ISI] role, Rehman says: the intention of government's 26 July notification [putting operational, financial and administrative control of ISI under Interior Ministry] was to create better coordination and information sharing among sensitive state agencies, but it has now been kept in "//abeyance//" as the government wants to create a "consensus" on the issue.

Segment II

[Kamran Khan's interview with Najam Sethi, editor of Daily Times and prominent national affairs analyst, via video link in Lahore]

Kamran Khan asks Najam Sethi whether it could now be stated that Musharraf should "read writing on the wall" and prepare to leave. Sethi believes that Musharraf would "fight" and he would, perhaps, not go easily. Khan asks Sethi whether he is seeing any loose links in the ruling alliance's resolve to oust Musharraf in all circumstances. Sethi says: this resolve will be tested because Pakistan is facing through very difficult times and the "present crisis would deepen" because both sides would flex their muscles and it is to be seen which side gives in first.

Continuing, Sethi says: if Pakistan Army comes to the conclusion that the ruling alliance is firm in its resolve [to oust Musharraf], it is possible that some people may convince Musharraf that he himself should go to end the crisis, but if the impeachment process runs through its full course, Pakistan would suffer "great harm." Sethi says although the ruling alliance appears to have resolved to oust Musharraf, but the fight would not end soon and Musharraf's allies, who have a majority in Senate, would adopt delaying tactics and there will be "//horse trading//" in number games and the process would go through many "dangerous" stages. Sethi adds: even if impeachment motion is passed, Musharraf may approach the Supreme Court which would widen the scope of fight. Continuing, Sethi says: the impeachment process would test the army's "patience" as well as people's patience as they are tired of seeing continuing political impasse without any attention to their basic issues and if the impeachment process is prolonged, even the international community may feel uneasy.

Sethi also believes that Zardari made a "//tactical// mistake" by trying to put ISI [Inter Services Intelligence] under Interior Ministry's control, which evoked strong reaction from the Army. Sethi says: ISI should come under civilian administration, but if the move is linked to America and war on terror, it becomes problematic because Pakistan nationalism comes in the way as people do not accept that America dictates to the democratic government that it should weaken ISI because it is creating problem for it. Sethi says the timing of ISI decision was tactically wrong and the matter should have been discussed with the Army only after the ouster of Musharraf. Sethi believes there would be some senior Army officers who may now feel uncertain about the government's future intentions.

Segment III

[Interview with Abdul Hafiz Pirzada, former federal law minister and prominent legal and constitutional expert, via video link in Islamabad]

Kamran Khan asks Abdul Hafiz Pirzada whether Musharraf could be impeached on the basis of ruling alliance's three charges against Musharraf- he did not take vote of confidence from New Assembly, he did not fulfill constitutional responsibility of addressing joint sitting of parliament and his economic policies which are responsible for present economic crisis. Pirzada says Article 47 of the Constitution lays down four conditions on which a president could be removed or impeached, one - physical incapacity, two - mental incapacity [these two conditions could remove president], three - violation of president, and four - gross misconduct [president could be impeached on last two conditions]. Pirzada says: not addressing parliament and not taking vote of confidence are not mandatory requirements of Constitution or are violation of Constitution. Pirzada adds: "very //serious allegations//" are needed for impeachment and evidence has to be produced if the gross misconduct cond! ition is evoked. Continuing, Pirzada says: the present leaders in power, who think that they have enough power to act as they wish, should take every step after considering all pros and cons. Pirzada says: Musharraf has the right to himself or through a representative answer charges leveled against him in the parliament. When asked whether Musharraf could approach the Supreme Court or the Supreme Court could itself intervene before or after impeachment, Pirzada says: the Constitution says the judiciary cannot influence parliamentary proceedings, but if there is no "// rationality//" and "//reason//" behind the move [to impeach Musharraf] and if all constitutional requirements are not met for the move, the Supreme Court may not remain silent. Pirzada says: the present Supreme Court has the right to undertake a judicial review of any case, even it can review the government step [like issuing an executive order] to reinstate 2 November judiciary.

Segment IV

[Interview with Hassan Abbas, research fellow at Harvard University and expert on Pakistani affairs, via telephone line in Boston]

Kamran Khan says only America has reacted so far to the Pakistan ruling alliance's decision to impeach Musharraf and the US State Department has said that it is "Pakistan's own internal affair." Khan adds: CNN international correspondent Ms Zain Vergie says that from her interaction with the State Department it appears that America thinks that it is Pakistan's internal affair, but at the same time America is concerned that the Pakistan government's focus is being diverted from war on terror due to internal tensions. Khan says according to Zain Vergie, America thinks that Musharraf now has three options--one, use Article 58-2B [to dissolve National Assembly], two- declare state of emergency, and three--call new elections. Continuing, Khan says when Zain Vergie asked the State Department about the prospects of success of the impeachment motion, she was told that the chances of success of impeachment process are 50:50. Khan adds: Zain Vergie says US officials believe that the real key is Pakistan Army and it would not want that its former chief is humiliated through an impeachment.

Kamran Khan asks Hassan Abbas whether "new fears" are being generated in America due to present "commotions" in Pakistan. Abbas says: although America may say in diplomatic terms that it is Pakistan's internal affair, but Washington has too much interest in issues in Pakistan. Abbas adds: although America's support for political forces in Pakistan has greatly increased in last few days and it is being believed that without democracy Pakistan's issue cannot be resolved, but the Republican administration, which is now in final stretch of its rule, is not in a position to bring about a major shift in its policy and at the same time it also does not want see that its ally Musharraf is humiliated just before the US presidential elections.

Khan says some Pakistani observers are concerned that increasing criticism of ISI in America and India and Pakistan government's own efforts to put ISI under the civilian control are "//synchronized effort//" to subvert Pakistan's defence institutions and Pakistan military officials may question the credibility of civilian government in this respect. Khan asks whether there are apprehensions in America that a very dangerous situation is developing in Pakistan. Abbas says: no government should take any advice from outsiders, even from a strongest of its ally, about working of the country's sensitive agencies. Abbas, however, thinks that no "//well planned conspiracy//" or "//synchronized//" effort to exist to weaken ISI. Abbas adds: tendency in Pakistan is to see foreign conspiracy behind any internal crisis and problems.

Segment V

[Kamran Khan's interview with Hamid Khan, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association and prominent leader of lawyers movement, via telephone line in Lahore]

Kamran Khan says that PPP and PML-N have jointly stated on many occasions that the judiciary that existed on 2 November 2007 would be restored, but it was "//vaguely//" stated by both parties today that the suspended judges would now be restored after impeachment of Musharraf.

Kamran Khan asks Hamid Khan whether he is satisfied with today's announcement by the ruling alliance that 2 November judiciary will now be restored after Musharraf's impeachment. Hamid Khan says he is disappointed that the government has once again put off the restoration of judiciary and that the issue has now been linked with the impeachment. Kamran Khan asks whether the lawyers' community would defer its protests now that new development has taken place. Hamid Khan says: the government has been given 14 August deadline [to restore judiciary] and if this deadline is not met, the lawyers have to chalk out new strategy because now the restoration of judiciary has been linked with impeachment, which may take a long time. Kamran Khan asks whether even Nawaz Sharif's stand on the judiciary is now wavering. Hamid Khan says it appears that Nawaz Sharif has "softened" his stand as today's statement neither fixes timeframe for restoring judges, nor the issue remains as the top priority of government.

Originally published by Geo TV, Karachi, in Urdu 1600 08 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring South Asia. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.