17 January, 2021

A Question Of Legitimacy

Past referendums have been nothing but a farce. Will Musharraf be enacting yet another?

A Question Of Legitimacy
It's a topic of conversation that is keeping the country breathlessly engaged: will President Pervez Musharraf seek a referendum and secure for himself another five years in the august office? Cartoonists are simply relishing Musharraf's palpable discomfort. One cartoon shows him stepping out of his limousine and consulting a roadside fortune-teller, sitting with his paraphernalia of envelopes and the prescient parrot, about what he should do. Another advises him to tailor the referendum to ask the question: "What is the name of Pakistan's President?"

Just about everyone in the country knows that Musharraf doesn't want to relinquish office. But the pressing problem before him is the method he should employ to legitimise himself. In October, an elected Parliament would be in place. Constitutionally, a president must win a majority of votes in Parliament for his confirmation. But Musharraf has completely alienated the political class and can't bank on its support for his survival.

That's the reason the idea of a referendum has been mooted. A president who wins it is a...


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