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Sharif: Pak ungovernable
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Pakistan presents the picture of a “failed” state, former premier and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has said and called for a new social contract among all stakeholders to steer the country out of the current crisis.

“The country is fast becoming ungovernable” Sharif said in an interview with Geo TV adding, We need to draw a road map to determine the country’s direction to make it a successful state”. He said he would not entirely blame the present government for the current situation and pointed out that the slide began with the military take-over in 1977 adding that the army ruled the country for more than 20 years since then.

He said things would have improved and the country set on a stable and progressive course if the mandate of February 18 elections had been fulfilled and the disastrous policies of military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf were reversed. “But nothing has changed and a pervasive sense of despondency and betrayal has overtaken the country,” he added.

Sharif said he had no argument with President Asif Zardari and would wish him to complete five years in power provided he fulfils the promises and commitments made to him and the people.

For this purpose he set three conditions - repeal 17th Amendment shedding powers taken away by Musharraf from the Prime Minister; implement the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed by Sharif with slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto in May 2006 laying down principles of governance, appointment of judges and make the judiciary independent by restoring deposed judges in accordance with the written commitments made by him (Zardari).

Nawaz lamented that Zardari made promises only to break them. He repeated the claim that he was offered a reprieve from current disqualification case in the Supreme Court provided he dropped the demand for resignation of Chief Justice Hameed Dogar over illegal enhancement of marks of his daughter.

“I am a responsible person and would not talk lightly about such sensitive issues,” he said while dismissing the denials by some ministers and the attorney-general that they were not aware of the factual position. He declined to divulge the name but PML-N sources claimed the offer came from the highest office.

He dismissed suggestion that he was bracing for a confrontation with the government on the streets saying it would destabilise the system. “I don’t want to rock the boat and create problems for the government … the country could destabilise if a movement is carried out on streets,” Sharif said.

Information minister Sherry Rehman said unfortunately a democratic force (the PML-N) has suddenly adopted a confrontationist course at a time when the country is passing through a very difficult time.

She denied that the government made any offer to influence he Supreme Court to drop disqualification case against Sharif brothers.

She said the PML-N under Sharif had worked with the PPP in the struggle for democracy during eight years of military rule by Musharraf and both parties are partners in coalition government in Punjab. It would cause a severe set back to the present democratic system if they adopted a collision course, she added.



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