Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Pakistan cabinet split over the reinstatement -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

ELEANOR HALL: After six months in isolation, Pakistan is back in the Commonwealth.

But while Commonwealth countries voted overnight to lift the suspension they may have acted too
soon.

This morning, Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that he is pulling his party
out of the country's six-week-old coalition government because of its failure to reinstate the
judges who were sacked by the President Pervez Musharraf last year.

Karen Barlow has our report.

PROTESTERS: Go Musharraf, go! Go Musharraf, go!

KAREN BARLOW: After eight years of military rule, these hundreds of protesters in the eastern city
of Lahore have had enough.

PROTESTERS: Go Musharraf, go! Go Musharraf, go!

KAREN BARLOW: They burnt an effigy of President Pervez Musharraf and cricketer turned politician
Imran Khan took the opportunity to address the lead party of the governing coalition - the Pakistan
People's Party.

"Listen" he told the party's chairman Asif Ali Zardari, "you will not save Musharraf and the money
you stole".

Imran Khan is talking about the National Reconciliation Ordinance which granted the party chairman
an amnesty from corruption charges brought against him by the previous government.

But Asif Ali Zardari's big problem today is the withdrawal from Cabinet of the other main party in
government - Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

Talks had broken down over the reinstatement of judges sacked last November by President Musharraf
and Mr Sharif says the government has now missed two deadlines.

NAWAZ SHARIF (translated): As you know, today the 12th of May was the deadline and we're bound and
the deadline is going to end. So our ministers will meet the Prime Minister tomorrow and will give
their resignations from the cabinet.

KAREN BARLOW: The former Prime Minister says the party would still support the six-week-old
government despite its disagreement.

The breakdown has little to do with President Musharraf although his sidelining of the judiciary
started the problem.

A senior lecturer in politics at Melbourne's Deakin University, Dr Christopher Snedden, is not
surprised by Nawaz Sharif's actions.

CHRISTOPHER SNEDDEN: This was an alliance of two parties that had been politically on either side
of the spectrum in years gone by and they really came together on a one issue platform which was to
reinstate the judges who had been sacked on the 3rd November by President Musharraf and also part
of that process to try and sideline the General, retired as well.

KAREN BARLOW: Is this the greatest power that the former Prime Minister had to pull out of the
Cabinet?

CHRISTOPER SNEDDEN: No look, I don't think it is form of protest. It is just, there was a thing
called the Murray declaration and one of the six items on that declaration was that once the PPP
and PMLN coalition was formed, that within 30 days of obtaining power, they would reinstate the
former judiciary and that hasn't happened.

And I think the PMLN is trying to make a statement to say, look, this is important to us and this
is what we want to happen.

KAREN BARLOW: How does all this look for Pakistan's transition back to democracy?

CHRISTOPER SNEDDEN: Well, look it is still a bit early to tell because unfortunately this is part
of the sorting out process where they are engaging in politics and the art of the possible and
putting positions and the PMLN has said that they will continue to support the government even
though, at this stage, they are not going to have ministerial positions and be part of it.

They don't want to destabilise the government to such an extent that President Musharraf is in
power. They want to disempower him, not empower him.

KAREN BARLOW: Overnight the Commonwealth reinstated Pakistan, has that all happened a little bit
too soon?

CHRISTOPER SNEDDEN: Oh, look I think that is a bit peripheral issue really. I don't think that is
highly important to the Pakistani's. I don't think that is something that they are particularly
looking at. Is it too soon? Well, no they have had a democratic election and there has been a
return to democracy so this is part of the democratic process that is going on now.

ELEANOR HALL: Dr Christopher Snedden from Deakin University speaking to Karen Barlow.