March Issue 2010

By | News & Politics | Published 10 years ago

He who runs from the battlefield lives to fight another day.

Is the Zardari-led PPP government taking one U-turn after another and back-tracking on its major decisions as part of some grand strategy, or simply because of the sheer inexperience and incompetence of its team? It’s hard to tell, given the hurly-burly of Pakistani politics. But one thing’s for sure: the PPP’s legal and media wizards have a real knack for defending the indefensible. And they do it with such conviction — swinging from one extreme position to the other within a span of just 24 hours — that one can only marvel at their brazenness. These somersaults have now become a distinct hallmark of this government, which has now completed two years in office. However, this strategy — or the lack of it — has garnered more public embarrassment for the besieged government rather than giving it any tactical advantage.

Here is a list of the major grand U-turns — or “grand blunders,” as critics term them — of the PPP government since assuming power in March 2008.

July 27, 2008:
The government was forced to retract its notification of placing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under the control of the interior ministry within less than 24 hours after issuing it.

March 16, 2009:
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani reinstated the deposed judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, through an executive order, after much prodding from the army and as opposition leader Nawaz Sharif led a march towards Islamabad from Lahore. The marchers dispersed after the reinstatement of the judges.

March 29, 2009:
Governor’s rule was lifted in the Punjab after more than a month as the PPP government failed to muster a majority in the provincial assembly.

November 2, 2009:
The government decided against tabling the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance in parliament for approval after bitter resistance from opposition parties and allies.

February 17, 2010:
Prime Minister Gilani accepted all of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s recommendations regarding the appointment of judges to the superior courts, paving the way for a new presidential notification over the issue that superseded the earlier one. A special Supreme Court bench had suspended the first presidential notification because it violated the chief justice’s recommendations on these appointments.

This post is a sidebar within a Newsline Special Report: “Tug of War“.

Amir Zia is a senior Pakistani journalist, currently working as the Chief Editor of HUM News. He has worked for leading media organisations, including Reuters, AP, Gulf News, The News, Samaa TV and Newsline.