Zardari gets 24 hours to ‘bring down political temperature’

ISLAMABAD - Under a new deal ‘backed by Washington, London and the army establishment’, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has been given 24 hours to act on the lawyers’ stir for overturning the controversial measures of former ruler Pervez Musharraf, a media report said Friday.

Zardari was Friday ‘reportedly asked to go by the army and the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani if he does not accept a new deal hatched by them in consultation with foreign powers’, a Pakistan News website said.

‘The new political deal, backed by Washington, London and the army establishment, has quietly been conveyed to Gilani to bring down the political temperature in Pakistan,’ it quoted sources as saying.

As part of the deal, the sources added, Gilani has been asked to ‘immediately convince’ Zardari to ‘demonstrate the flexibility required’ to break the deadlock before the lawyers’ Long March reaches Islamabad.

‘The ball is now firmly in the court of Zardari, who has to take a decision swiftly on endorsing the agreement brokered by powerful international actors,’ the report said.

Thousands of lawyers Thursday simultaneously began their Long March from Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab and will converge here March 16 for a sit-in before parliament to demand the reinstatement of the Supreme Court and high court judges Musharraf had sacked after imposing an emergency in November 2007.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has also joined the stir to protest a court decision barring Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from contesting elections.

The decision led to the fall of Shahbaz Sharif’s PML-N led government in Punjab and the imposition of Governor’s Rule in the province.

Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the report said, met Gilani in Islamabad Wednesday and during the 90 minute meeting, asked him to set the deal in motion.

According to the report, if Zardari does not accept the new deal, the president’s office ‘will be completely marginalised, Zardari will be removed’, Gilani will ‘take over’ as power ‘will be restored’ to the prime minister’s office.

This apart, the PML-N will join the federal cabinet and deposed Supreme Court chief justice Iftikar Mohammad Chaudhary will be reappointed, the report added.

It, however, was silent on Zardari’s future if he is removed from office.

A Pakistan News, according to a positing on its website, ‘is managed by a team of professional news editors, sub editors and independent reporters’.


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