Sunday, December 16, 2007

POLITICS-PAKISTAN: Emergency Lifted But Democracy Elusive

IPS News

Analysis by Beena Sarwar

KARACHI, Dec 16 (IPS) - President Pervez Musharraf’s lifting of emergency rule over Pakistan and restoration of the Constitution is insufficient to put the country on the path to democracy say civil rights activists.

For one thing, there is the unprecedented situation created by most of the country’s higher judiciary refusing to take oath under Musharraf’s Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) of Nov 3. Anti-press laws and restrictions on the electronic media remain. And last, but not least, is Musharraf himself, elected as president for the next five years while still in army uniform, by an outgoing assembly.

The judges who refused to take oath under the PCO may "have ceased to be judges" according to caretaker Law Minister Afzal Haider since they were neither dismissed nor had relinquished their offices, but many of them refuse to accept this position. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the majority of judges of the Supreme Court and the four provincial High Courts refused to legitimise a PCO. The stance of these ‘non-PCO judges’ is also unprecedented: they still consider themselves to be the rightful judges.

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