ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pakistan: A Step Too Far

Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, has always had the ability to sense the prevailing mood, evident in his adept balancing of American directives in the war against terror with the need to assuage the right wing religion-based parties who construe this as an interference. The unexpected protests across major cities of Pakistan that have followed his suspension of Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhury, till recently the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, have, however, taken him by surprise. The protests have been sudden, but have swiftly brought several thinking sections of the populace together, including the media and the legal community. The widely telecast images of police brutality on protesting lawyers and the subsequent raid on a media house vocal in its criticism of Musharraf’s move catalysed anger against the president.

Musharraf’s orders suspending Choudhury and appointing an acting chief justice in his place have been seen as unconstitutional, violative of Article 209 of the constitution, which stipulates a three-tier process, specifying that the president may first set up a supreme judicial council and then only act on its recommendations. Moreover, Choudhury had only served half his current term in office. His next four years were to coincide with Musharraf’s own efforts to secure a fur the r five-year presidential term from the national assembly; elections to the national and provincial assemblies are also due later this year.

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