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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: abdulruff
Full Name: Dr.Abdul Ruff Colachal
User since: 15/Mar/2008
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Pakistan's New Premier For non-Confrontation?
 
 
The new democracy wave, unleashed in Pakistan for quite some time leading to February poll, has created a temporary premier. The PPP emerged as the biggest party in the 342-member National Assembly and along with PML (N) and other parties it is forming a government at the centre.
 
Son of a provincial minister in the 1950s, Alamdar Hussain Gilani, the 55-year-old Yusuf Raza Gilani, a post-graduate in Journalism and himself a former minister and Speaker of Pakistan, has sworn as 25th prime-minister of Pakistan on 25 March 2008, possibly for 3-4 months until the leader of PPP Asif Ali Zardari becomes constitutionally eligible for the top executive job.
 
Gilani won the parliamentary vote by an astounding 264 votes to the 42 of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, a former chief minister, fielded as a mere formality to oppose the PP-PML (N), although president Musharraf wanted to elect the premier unopposed. This is the first time in 12 years that the PPP heads the government. Musharraf swore in the new premier on 25 March. President Pervez Musharraf pledged his full support to Pakistan's new coalition government led by his political opponents. Musharraf, speaking at a military parade marking Pakistan's national day, hailed the start of what he called a "real democratic era" in the country, plagued for months by violence linked to Al-Qaeda and "Taliban militants".
 
 
When asked how the new government would handle Musharraf, the 58-year-old Gilani, a low-key but stalwart aide to Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari, replied: "I will follow the constitution." He has vowed to pursue the mission of Bhutto, who was assassinated on December 27. "Democracy has been revived due to the sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto, Gilani said.  National Assembly is yet to meet to debate on major issues plugging the nation's prosperity and peace. With the release of judges, the coalition government appears set for a non-confrontation, as afar as possible, with Musharraf.
 
 
FIRST STEP
 
The PPP nominated Gilani as its candidate at the weekend. Gilani made two key pledges in his speech following his election- one about the release of judges and another on UN investigation of Bhutto's murder. Minutes after being elected by MPs, as his first step, New Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani has ordered to release of all judges detained by the previous government under emergency rule. President Pervez Musharraf sacked dozens of judges in November and most have since been freed from detention. Earlier the Supreme Court filled with anti-Musharraf judges and lawyers was set to rule on whether his re-election as president was legal.
 
The new premier also announced that Mrs. Bhutto's murder would be investigated by the UN. With this Gilani' has fulfilled second pledge was to seek a resolution calling for a UN investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
 
 
Pakistan's new prime minister told President George W. Bush who congratulated him on his assuming premiership that he backs the U.S.-led campaign against "terrorism" but a comprehensive approach that includes political solutions is needed to tackle the problem.
 
GILANI
 
Born on June 9, 1952, Gilani is a descendant of Hazrat Musa Pak, a leading spiritual figure of Multan who hailed from Gilani in Iran. He belongs to an influential religious and political family of Multan began his political career with the Pakistan Muslim League during the reign of military ruler Gen Zia-ul-Haq in 1978. His father Alamdar Hussain Gilani was a signatory to the Pakistan Resolution, the 1940 document that laid the ground for the creation of Pakistan. His grandfather Ghulam Mustafa Shah Gilani was a MLA in the 1940s. Gilani's great-grandfather Raja Bakhsh Gilani was mayor of Multan in 1921 and a member of the Central Legislative Assembly of India.
 
 
In 1985, Gilani was elected as a member of the National Assembly for the first time from Lodhran district and became minister for housing and works and railways in the government of Mohammed Khan Junejo. Three years later, he joined the PPP and defeated sitting Punjab Chief Minister Nawaz Sharif in the polls. He was re-elected to the National Assembly in 1990 and 1993 but lost the polls in 1997, when the PPP did not win any seats in Punjab province. He joined the Pakistan People's Party in 1988 and rose to the post of vice chairman of the party in a decade. Along the way, he served as Speaker of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament during 1993-97 and federal minister during 1985-88. Gilani served as speaker during Bhutto's second term in power from 1993 to 1996 and a minister during her first term from 1988 to 1990. Many believe he would be willing to quietly step aside if Ms Bhutto's widower Asif Zardari becomes an MP and therefore eligible to become prime minister.
 
By his own admission, Pakistan's new Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, has not been one of the "good boys" who has followed the bidding of President Pervez Musharraf. He resisted pressure from President Musharraf to desert the party, refusing to do any deals with him. The regime tried to coerce him into joining many of his Pakistan People's Party (PPP) colleagues in switching sides. But Gilani refused to do a deal with Musharraf and his loyalty is much admired within his party. He went to jail in 2001, serving five years following a conviction over illegal government appointments during his term as Speaker of parliament between 1993-96. In October 2006, Gilani's prison term was set aside by the Punjab High Court. The sentence was passed by an anti-corruption court formed by President Musharraf as part of what he termed measures to cleanse politics. He wrote a book while in jail and the book was well received across the country.
 
Gilani is much admired within the PPP. It is his loyalty and his disdain for politicking within the party that has earned him the nomination for prime minister. Gilani was perhaps the only man among the top leadership who did not badger Zardari for this or any other position," says one PPP insider. "This along with the fact of his proven loyalty has earned him the nod. In 1995, Gilani issued instructions for the release of parliamentarians detained by his own PPP government. When the interior ministry refused to oblige, he had the matter brought on record - a quite unprecedented action.
 
 
From his humble beginning as the chairman of a district council in Punjab province, Yusuf Raza Gilani has been thrust into the limelight as the man who will lead Pakistan's new government that will grapple with challenges ranging from terrorism to spiraling inflation.
 
AN OBSERVATION
 
 
Gilani's election as Prime Minister needs to be welcomed, for it has, hopefully, moved forward the process of Pakistan's transition to a strong and unhindered political rule by taking the nation away from turmoil and chaos. "Today, democracy has been restored thanks to the great sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto," Gilani said in his first speech to parliament. "We didn't get here out of charity. This moment came because of struggle and martyrdom," he said. "If we want to run this country we have to establish the supremacy of parliament and constitution and rule of law. The independence of judiciary and media is a must for progress of the country," he said. But media freedom reached its zenith during Musharraf's presidency.
 
Few are likely to disagree with President Musharraf that any confrontation between institutions would be disastrous for the country which is facing a number of serious challenges. It was abundantly clear from the tenor of the speeches made on the floor of the House by the leaders of the four-party alliance that they did not want to provoke any clash. Despite the votes cast for the new Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, signaling that the alliance now commands a two-thirds majority there, the speeches delivered by its leaders were sober and indicated restraint. While they vowed to restore Parliament's supremacy, there was no direct reference to Musharraf's Presidency. Similarly new Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza vowed to act as a custodian of the House who is to remain above party politics.



Obviously President Musharraf, though elected by constitutional means for a full term, was badly weakened by the turn of events in the country. PMLN Chief Nawaz Sharif repeatedly asked Musharraf to vacate the presidency, though he has not lost an election to presidency nor Sharif has won that. The PPP-PMLN combine will have to wait for Musharraf's present term to end before asking him to quit. Previous government along with PM has already quit. Any further aggressive stand on the issue could create unnecessary tension and could even lead to suspension of the present government by president. That would unleash a fresh wave of turmoil for which Pakistan and its people are not ready. All political parties should understand that no ego is bigger than solidarity, security and stability of Pakistan. They should bear in mind that nations ignoring the sensitivities, objective realities and imperatives of the era are unable to achieve stability, solidarity and security of their countries. He has to realize that now he has to deal with a House of people who don't like him.
 
The collective wisdom and capacity of the entire political class will be on test. Prime Minister Gilani will have to handle all this as the chief executive of the country and also go many steps beyond to provide hope to people for their future. This is not going to be easy but given the display of sanity and maturity so far by the leadership of the mainstream coalition partners, it should not be impossible especially if the new prime minister uses his diplomacy speak for itself dealing with presidency and gets the support of all sections of society.
 
President Pervez Musharraf has termed the convening of the new parliament as a historical event and expressed confidence that Pakistan would continue to make progress on the path of democracy and economic growth. The President has advised the opposition to give priority to national issues rather then their self interests, to keep Pakistan first in their minds. It is time that he also acts on the advice to avoid confrontation that can be harmful for the country. 
 
Bulk of Pakistan's media has incited the new premier to take on Musharraf, the only spanner in "democracy' in Pakistan. But, to their disappointment, a showdown with the presidency in National Assembly (NA) is no more appears inevitable. Pakistani economy, security, re-independence of Kashmir, suicide bombings, the war on terror, the insurgency in Balochistan, inflation, unemployment, food and power crises are vital issues o be taken quite seriously by the government. PML (N) Quaid Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif says the parliament and the incoming coalition government will take decisions in national interest without being influenced from abroad.
 
 
Gilani will have the daunting task of bridging the gap with presidency, holding together a large coalition and tackling violence and severe economic problems. World is keenly watching how Pakistan would prove itself a true parliamentary democracy by respectfully fulfilling the mandate of the people to serve them better. Also, speculation is rife that Gilani will only be a stop-gap premier until Zardari -- who is not an MP -- becomes eligible to stand for the post by contesting a by-election in May. It is quite likely that Zardari would not ease Gilani out even if and when he gets elected to the Parliament and the PPP seems to be eager to see Bhutto's son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to be the next premier. Will then Gilani serve a full five-year term as prime minister?
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DR.ABDUL RUFF Colachal
Analyst, Researcher & Commentator
Delhi
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