06/20/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Bishop of Islamabad: after the Gilani verdict, "unity" to overcome the political crisis

Jibran Khan
Emergency meeting of the People's Party to choose a new prime minister. Zardari cancels his trip to Russia. Msgr. Rufin Anthony hopes for dialogue between the parties and recalls the country's priorities: education, food, water and fighting corruption. But in Parliament the first conflicts are already emerging. A Catholic politician: early elections.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - "Today in Pakistan we are experiencing the failure of politics" and it is more than ever "a time for unity" and national cohesion. This is what Msgr. Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad, told AsiaNews, in commenting on yesterday's decision of the Supreme Court, which declared the "incompatibility" of Yousaf Raza Gilani with the office of Prime Minister and decreed his resulting "expulsion" from Parliament (see AsiaNews 06/19/2012 Islamabad, the Supreme Court: Gilani is incompatible with the office of prime minister). The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) called an emergency meeting - at which President Asif Ali Zardari, who canceled his trip to Russia, will also be present - to discuss the replacement of the Prime Minister. Tomorrow, the head of state might appear before the assembly with a new name, but the choice is dependent upon whether an agreement can be reached in today's meeting.

Analysts and commentators in Pakistan are calling for a "calm" transfer of power until new elections, if possible held in advance, to restore calm and confidence in the country's politics. For experts, the now former Prime Minister Gilani must accept the judges' judgment, who declared him "incompatible" because he was sentenced two months ago for "contempt of court" in a story of corruption involving President Zardari. At the same time, they hope that the opposition movements don't draw an unfair advantage from the situation and that it doesn't come to a full confrontation between the executive and judiciary powers.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Msgr. Rufin Anthony points out that "all parties must come together and talk," find "solutions" rather than thinking about the personal self-interest. He explains that "the contempt of Court", a crime for which Gilani was sentenced to a "symbolic" punishment, is a more "particular" element, compared to other widespread needs such as basic human rights. "The nation does not have water, electricity, food at cheap prices", said the prelate, "the rule of law is absent and corruption is rampant everywhere. We pray that our leaders, in such a sensitive time, will know how to make wise decisions."

Instead, conflicting opinions are emerging among the members of Parliament: Saleem Khursheed Khokhar from Karachi emphasizes the "rift" between the executive and the judiciary branches and is not "satisfied" with the judges' decision. Pervaiz Rafique, of the PPP, adds that "the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice have exceeded the limits imposed by the Constitution." Joel Sohtra, of Lahore, instead considers "excellent" the verdict of Pakistan's highest legal body, which is taking a "new step" toward achieving "complete independence". "This incompetent government", observes the Congressman, "is making a mockery of the justice system." Finally, the Catholic politician Tarseed Javed, a native of Sialkot, according to whom the head of state should "announce the date of the next general election," because even if they were to appoint a new prime minister, the supreme court "will force him to draw up a rogatory letter to the Swiss authorities." In short, President Zardari will not escape the judges even if he were to succeed in surviving this term. 

 

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