Saturday, December 5, 2020

Khawaja Asif wants judiciary to step in for a new Charter of Democracy

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After Maryam Nawaz’s demand to the establishment to step in for a “Charter of Democracy”, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, a senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has asked the judiciary to help politicians initiate a national dialogue to let democracy flourish in the country.

Khawaja Asif was speaking to Asma Shirazi of AAJ News when he suggested the judiciary to play a role in order to end the ongoing anti-government protests under the flag of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

The main Opposition parties in Pakistan have announced to formally start off the anti-government campaign till the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

While addressing a press conference after PDM’s formal meeting, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former prime minister, said the anti-government movement will be launched across the country. “This movement will keep growing and will be successful in ridding Pakistan of this undemocratic process,” said Abbasi, accompanied by other opposition leaders in Islamabad.

The Opposition’s relationship with the government has been patchy since the time PM Khan assumed the office. However, the situation got intense after corruption cases against the Sharif and Zardari families were filed in the courts. An All Parties Conference (APC) was called in Islamabad on September 20 where Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, addressed the participants and slammed the country’s establishment for political engineering.

Read more: How do new local bodies laws compare to Charter of Democracy?

“It is saddening that the situation has escalated to the level where we now have a state above the state,” said Sharif via a video link from London. “Either we have martial laws in the country or a strong parallel government is created whenever we have a civilian government. Our foremost priority is to get rid of this non-representative, incapable, and selected government,” he said.

Later on, the Opposition criticized the government after Shehbaz Sharif, President of PML-N, was arrested as his bail petition was dismissed by the Lahore High Court (LHC). Notably, he got an extension in pre-arrest bail more than five times in the past six months. His party, however, blamed the government once his petition was dismissed by the court.

Maryam Nawaz wants to hold talks with the establishment?

On November 12, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz said that her party is willing to hold talks with the military establishment, however, only under the condition that the PTI government is shown the door. Her remarks came during an interview with BBC Urdu.

She claimed that the establishment had contacted her close associates for talks. “The establishment has contacted many people around me, but no one has contacted me directly,” Maryam said.

Asked whether she was ready to hold talks with the current leadership of the Pakistan Army, she said: “The start of talks from the PDM platform could be considered provided the fake government is sent home.”

The PML-N vice-president added: “The army is my institution. We will definitely talk but within the ambit of the Constitution.”

She said it will be unacceptable if anyone “tries to step out of the batting crease and play”. “Things will be discussed within the (scope) that has been laid down by the Constitution. And [talks] will now be held in front of the people, not in secret.”

Maryam stressed that she is not against any institutions. “I am not against [institutions] but I think this government will have to go home if we are to move forward,” she said.

Read more: Op-ed: After the demise of Benazir, the Charter of Democracy has resulted in dacoity

The statement came days after Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, in an interview with BBC, said that taking names of military leaders was Nawaz Sharif’s personal choice. It was decided in the PDM agenda to use the ‘establishment’ word and not to take the name of any national institution, he said.

What does Nawaz want?

Political analysts are of the view that the PML-N is now looking for a third-party to intervene in the political process for a graceful exit. It has been reliably learned that several party leaders are not happy with Nawaz’s anti-army narrative, and are demanding careful deliberation over the future of the party.

Some policymakers and insiders in Islamabad also believe that Nawaz does not see his political future in Pakistani politics but wants his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, to be a legitimate hire of his politics. While doing so, Nawaz is reportedly using different tactics to put pressure on the establishment and demand acceptable political space for Maryam. However, it is yet to be seen whether the establishment will be in a position under PM Khan to give any bailout package to Sharifs or not.

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