Showdown b/w Pak govt & judiciary appears imminent

Showdown b/w Pak govt & judiciary appears imminent Lahore: A showdown between Pakistani judiciary and the civilian government appears imminent as Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has made it clear that the Gilani government will have to submit to its orders or be ready to "face the music".

Chaudhry today extended the deadline by 24 hours to reinstate establishment secretary, Sohail Ahmed, who notified posting of Inspector General Police (Gilgit Baltistan) Husain Asghar in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe the multi-billion Hajj scam also involving the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's elder son Abdul Qadir Gilani.

Chaudhry has vowed to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution", saying that any deviation from it under any circumstances must be resisted.

Chaudhry made the remarks at a Full Court meeting last night convened at a time when legal experts, opposition leaders and former judges feared the government is heading towards a direct clash by not-implementing orders of the apex court to end corruption in government departments.

Gilani told his partymen that "there is a limit to everything and the situation has reached an extent such as there is an intervention in my authority and I will not allow this."

Quoting Gilani, an outspoken member of PPP Babar Awan said: "We will follow the Supreme Court orders but will not allow anyone to encroach our authority and start running a parallel system of governance."

The prime minister in a meeting with his allies has reportedly sought their support in case a 'final showdown' with superior judiciary is inevitable. "The PML-Q and ANP leadership has assured their support," Awan said.

"I do not think we are heading to judicial martial law in Pakistan," President Zardari's aide Fauzia Wahab said.

She wondered as to why the Supreme Court was focusing only on a couple of cases related to the PPP supporters. "People are not fools, they know who are behind the judicial crisis," she said.

Punjab province governor Sardar Latif Khosa has even come out with more strong words, saying that Chief Justice Chaudhry should not play at the hands of some people, referring to Sharif brothers.

"The Chief Justice of Pakistan has taken oath under the constitution and he should act accordingly," Khosa insisted.

The Pakistan People's Party circles believe that the Sharif brothers, after failing to get any assurance from the Pakistan Army, have decided to use "judicial card" against the Gilani-led government. Justice Chaudhry is believed to be a 'friend' of Sharifs in the political circles.

"The Sharifs in fact want government-judiciary clash to wrap up the system before the Senate election due in March next year," Awan, who is very close to President Zaradri said.

"The Sharifs should not become guards of independent judiciary as everyone knows who had attacked the Supreme Court. Shahbaz is doing politics over judicial matters."

Awan also blamed Sharifs for seeking to trigger a clash between the provinces.

"Sharifs want clash of Punjab with other provinces but we will not let it succeed," he said and added that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif recently had met with retired army men for implementation of his "design".

On the other hand Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of Nawaz and Punjab chief minister, said his party PML-N was ready to take "direct action" against PPP-led federal government for violating higher courts' verdicts.

"The PPP has declared a war against judiciary and justice. We cannot witness this situation in silence and will take direct action with full might to foil nefarious designs of this corrupt government and its crook allies," Shahbaz said.

Shahbaz indirectly supported the use of armed forces by the Supreme Court for getting its verdicts implemented when he told a questioner that every institution, party and individual should come forward to the assistance of the independent judiciary in the provision of justice to the people.

He said the PML-N leadership would not confine itself to just issuing harsh anti-government statements, he said it would go for building a momentum after Ramazan (in September) to oust the PPP from power.

Tendering resignations en bloc from all elected houses is also part of the PML-N strategy chalked out in view of the falling party popularity graph and fearing that if it does not act in time 'any third force' (army) may intervene 'to set the things right'.