Which article would keep the president at bay?

Reporters were desperate to find the latest on President Zardari’s health.

Nusrat Javeed December 16, 2011

Now it is clause (1) of Article 47!

Parliamentary reporters have been eagerly waiting for the prime minister to speak in the National Assembly Thursday evening. They took it for granted that his speech would be “far more combative” than the one he had delivered in the Senate the other day. Gilani disappointed all of us in the end.

The only thing worth noting during his brief speech was the hurt feeling he expressed regarding the conduct of Nawaz Sharif. Addressing a public rally in Faisalabad, the PML-N leader had set a 10-day deadline for the government to move on the so-called ‘memogate’ probe but in the end Nawaz Sharif went to the Supreme Court, only after three days of his putting the said demand.

After prime minister left the parliament building, reporters were desperate to find the latest on President Zardari’s health. Without learning anything authentic on this count, they were found relishing the guessing game that revolved around the question if he really wanted to return.

A peculiar set of legislators, which included some front-ranking members of the Pakistan Peoples Party, were made to believe that even if he is adamant to return, Asif Ali Zardari “will not be allowed” to come back to Pakistan.

I do not want to waste our time by clearly naming the persons and forces who are supposed to decide the future of an elected president in our uniquely banana republic. Defying all categories of logic, presidents and prime ministers have been coming and going in this country, as per the script envisioned by non-elected regulators of our state. No wonder, I took a lot of interest to fathom the game plan, believed to have been set for the autumn of Zardari. In the mid-1950s, Governor General Ghulam Muhammad had been forced to resign on health grounds. History, I was told, could repeat itself.

One legislator, otherwise sitting on the ministerial benches in the National Assembly, was even ready with flagging of an article of our constitution. He read clause (1) of article 47 that says: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the constitution, the President may, in accordance with provisions of this Article, be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity…”

A President can also be removed through an impeachment motion, but the procedure to remove him through such motion has been clearly written. The constitution remains ambiguous when it comes to the question of removing a president on grounds of “physical or mental incapacity.”

Taking advantage of this ambiguity, persons and elements working overtime to get Zardari, keep sadistically recalling that the Supreme Court is the sole forum to find a clear path from ambiguously written constitutional clauses.

For the past three days, almost half the conspiratorial drawing rooms of Islamabad have been hysterically referring to a story that Maulana Fazlur Rehman told to various persons that met him of late. The JUI leader, insists the said story, was stunned and exasperated with a very long meeting that he had with President Zardari.

I know the Maulana for more than two decades. We are almost frank in off the record meetings, but even there I seldom found him speaking without contemplative pauses. Digesting the tale attributed to him is thus very difficult for me. I didn’t want to sound like a fool to Maulana by approaching him directly. But after some search, I can now tell with confidence that yes a meeting took place between him and Zardari on December 2.

The President had virtually forced this meeting on him. It started at around 9 am and went on even after lunch. From this meeting, President Zardari left for around 30 minutes only. That was to meet a very important visitor from an important Directorate. For sure, Maulana concluded from this meeting that Asif Ali Zardari definitely “needs to rest and seriously address his health-connected issues.” That’s about it. He never found him hit by the malaise that Shakespeare discovered and described in the poetic fits of Hamlet. Word is out, however, and the tale supposedly told by Maulana had forced many to recall article 47.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2011.


Adnan | 10 years ago | Reply

Nusrat Sb.

Thanks for the insight. I agree with you that Zardari bashers will continue to work for his ouster at any cost. But let me tell you it will be very bad omen for the fragile democratic system that we have in Pakistan.

Nadeem Iqbal | 10 years ago | Reply

A O A Nusrat sb How R U? Refer to ur words on TV ( What s National Sovereignty of a country, whose govt may B changed with a tel Call?) Allah bless you all & our Country

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