PAKISTAN: Trying to Get Its Political Act Together

On February 14, 2012 – however fleetingly — love was truly in the air in politically torn-Pakistan, although, it had nothing to do with Valentines Day. Pakistanis of all partisan stripes appeared to agree that the action of the National Assembly to make future elections as free and fair as possible was a critical step in the right direction.

Even the country’s two most prominent English-language newspapers, so often at odds, carried similarly favorable reports on the legislature’s passage in Islamabad of the 20th amendment to the Constitution. The election amendment is designed to empower a credible national commission to insure the integrity of Pakistan’s oft-divisive elections. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that an unbiased overseer, with no ties to any political party, would be assigned to ensure that fair elections take place.  The oft-dueling newspapers noted that the amendment was passed with 247 votes in parliament, without a single legislator in opposition, a feat that is quite rare in Pakistan. PM Gilani praised the opposition for coming-together in the national interest.

But for all his success with the legislative branch, Gilani at the same time faces a serious problem with the country’s judiciary. The highest court has issued a contempt order against him – the first ever against a sitting PM — for failure to pursue a corruption investigation against the country’s sitting president. It will be interesting to see how The Dawn and The News handle this hot potato.


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The Dawn

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