ISLAMABAD: The winds of change are sweeping through the avenues of Islamabad, or are they? From the fate of President Musharraf to that of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, from the future of Pakistan’s role in the US-led “war on terror” to its Kashmir policy, the coalition leaders have declared that everything is now in the hands of the new Parliament, opined Nirupama Subramanian in his article in the Indian newspaper, The Hindu.
From the very first meeting of the new National Assembly, it was obvious that Pakistan had undergone a radical transformation in many ways. The absence of burqas and hijabs in the lower house — the most visible consequence yet of the defeat of the religious parties in the February 18 elections — was the least of it.
Under the defeated Pakistan Muslim League (Q) regime, the National Assembly was seen as a place where the government announced decisions that had been taken by President Pervez Musharraf. But the new government has pledged that its authority will flow only from the people’s representatives elected in a popular vote.
The parliamentarians, especially the new ones who number a record 192 in the 342-seat lower house, sincerely believe this, and the feeling of empowerment among them is palpable, argued Subramanian.
“The last Parliament was a rubber-stamp Parliament. They [the representatives] were just sitting here doing nothing and all the policies were coming from the presidency. But this Parliament will set the direction for all others to follow,” the writer of the article quoted Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rahman, a first-time parliamentarian of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) from Bhawalpur.
The more immediate fear is that the coalition partners are not all together on crucial issues. Despite the Murree Declaration, by which the PPP and the PML(N) jointly pledged to restore the judges by way of a resolution in the National Assembly within 30 days of taking office, it is evident that not all the coalition parties, including the two signatories to the agreement, think exactly alike on the issue of the judiciary. Some cracks have started showing on this. The country can only hope that the wrinkles will be ironed out and that the honeymoon will last, the article concluded.