Feb 25, 2009

PM Gilani seeks to diffuse tensions with PML-N

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani presented himself as a mediator to defuse political tension between the major parties of the country - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) on the issue of reinstatement of deposed judges including Chaudhry Iftikhar Muhammad. ‘I assure the PML-N leadership that I will talk to President Asif Ali Zardari after he returns from China to resolve the issue’ PM Gilani told reporters after inaugurating Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). The assurance of PM Gilani to the PML-N that he will talk to the president is signaling the flexibility of the PPP to resolve the issue and it is expected that President Zardari will also prefer dialogue with the PML-N instead of categorically rejecting its demand. The decision of PML-N to take part in the lawyers’ Long March, to be staged on March 16, has created unease in the government quarters compelling the ruling PPP to negotiate with the PML-N and convince it to avoid further tension. It is expected that lawyers Long March programme, that include sit-in in front of Parliament House till the demand for reinstatement of deposed judges is not fulfilled, would turn the political situation in the country from bad to worse. Referring to his recent meeting with PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, the prime minister said: ‘The party (PML-N) has clarified its stance that it did not want to participate in the long march, but wanted to restore the deposed judges.’ However, these words from the premier are considered ridiculous because the dispute will not end even if all the judges, including Chaudhry Iftikhar Muhammad, are reinstated. On the other hand the security departments have conveyed serious security concerns to the government over the lawyers protest programme to be held in Islamabad amid reports and fear that terrorists can strike anywhere in the federal capital these days.
Information Minister Sherry Rehman, while talking to reporters, said: ‘The government has some security concerns on the lawyers’ long march especially after suicide blast outside Marriott Hotel.’ ‘Whatever the strategy to be chalked out by the government, it would be made keeping in view of security threats in Islamabad,’ she said.

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