ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the National Assembly on Monday accused President Asif Ali Zardari of trying to take “control” of the government through the core committee of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after losing his constitutional powers.
Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar accused President Zardari of trying to influence the administration through what he called an unconstitutional inner circle of his party. Chaudhry Nisar was speaking after a formal debate on Zardari’s last month address to the joint sitting of the two chambers—the National Assembly and the Senate—of the parliament.
“It seems nothing has changed after the approval of the 18th Amendment,” Nisar said. “Previously, the president was powerful under the Constitution…He is now doing the same through this committee.” The criticism on the president intensified after the appearance of media reports that the core committee, which is headed by Mr Zardari, has practically taken over the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC). The core committee comprises nearly one-and-a-half dozen individuals who are said to be “very close to the president”.
The CEC, on the other hand, consist of 60 party members, most of whom are known to be close associates of PPP’s slain leader Benazir Bhutto. Chaudhry Nisar said the extent of the core committee’s influence on the government “is ridiculous”, and urged PM Gilani to change “this trend”. “A huge responsibility lies on the shoulders of the prime minister. He must take the lead to empower parliament as was envisaged in the 18th Amendment,” Nisar said.
He said that opposition groups would not let “any core committee determine national policies” and vowed to oppose efforts to undermine parliament’s authority. Addressing the prime minister, Nisar said: “You are no longer answerable to any core committee.” He also criticised the government over the new accountability bill, its “criminal silence” over continuous US drone attacks, its failure to conclude the criminal investigation into Bhutto’s murder and non-compliance of SC verdicts.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 11th, 2010.