Taking The Lead

guilani.jpgOn Tuesday, the period of real democracy started in our neighbouring country Pakistan. Polling over two third of the votes in the 342 member National Assembly, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani became the 25th Prime Minister of the state.

In 2005, it was this man who was convicted in a Rawalpindi courtroom for irregularities in appointments to his Secretariat as a Speaker of the National Assembly during PPP’s rule in 1993-96. “The man you are convicting today will be the President of Pakistan one day,” Zardari had shouted from the courtroom backbenches. On Monday, Zardari’s prophecy came true when that same Gilani, who had stood in the conviction box stood three years ago, addressed the people and press of Pakistan and became the man who would represent their country as a new democratic nation.

“Today democracy has been restored thanks to the great sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto,” said Gilani addressing the press. Seated in the visitors gallery was the chairman of PPP, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The 19-year-old Oxford student had taken charge of his ancestral party in January, when his mother, late Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. However, both son and father were not present on Tuesday when President Musharraf swore Gilani as the new PM. Even PML-N Chairman Nawaz Sharif declined to attend the swearing in ceremony. Zardari and Sharif are forming a coalition led by their parties (PPP and PML-N) with at least two small parties joining in. Gilani agreed to the fact that the situation faced by Pakistan at present could not be solved by a single-man’s rule. There needs to be cooperation among the various parties, and all democratic forces need to join hands to make this volatile, political state strong and successful. This could be possible if they make Parliament the supreme power, respect the constitution and uphold the rule of law. The 56 year old new PM of Pakistan has spent 6 years in jail during Musharraf’s regime before being exonerated by the Supreme Court. He administered an oath today by the very same President. As the coalition between the democratic forces strengthens the constitution, it will clip the Presidential powers held by Musharraf. It is a political vicious circle that the President now has to work together with the same government which is pressurizing him to resign, headed by the same man who he had put behind bars. Maybe that’s the reason why the President is making pro-democracy statements in the press. Right after his swearing-in ceremony, what Gilani promised to take straight into consideration, is the release of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and several other detained judges who were humiliated during Musharraf’s November 3 emergency. Sources say that, Mussharaf asked for trouble when he declared emergency in the state. They say that this was the main reason for his downfall. His popularity eroded further with the accusation charges on him by PPP’s late Chairman Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. The return of the PPP’s then Chairman Bhutto clearly showed him the end of his military rule. The Bhutto assassination hit the last nail in his coffin when he was blamed for the whole incident resulting in his soundly defeat in the February 18 parliamentary elections won by Bhutto’s party, weeks after she was assassinated. Meanwhile, India is looking forward for peace and cooperation by Pakistan’s new democratic government on its western frontier and is all set to welcome its north-eastern neighbour, Bhutan as the newest democratic country. Aakanksha Ahluwalia [Ratings] [Image courtesy: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/news_images/20080324/P1PA.jpg]