28 July, 2021

Heil Democracy!

Sharif's coup was a sad day for democratic institutions, says one of Pakistan's leading editors

Heil Democracy!

PRIME Minister Nawaz Sharif's dream of becoming all-powerful finally came true on December 3. President Farooq Leghari, who paved the way for Sharif's return to power last February, was forced to resign and the chief justice of Pakistan, Sajjad Ali Shah, was ousted from office by means of a government-sponsored coup in the judiciary. For three agonising months, the Punjabi army stood by dutifully as a Punjabi prime minister blithely went on to dig the graves of the Constitution and supreme court of Pakistan.

Sharif's obsession with power first manifested itself in '93 when he turned on his benefactor, president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and tried to usurp his 8th amendment powers to dismiss the government. Sharif miscalculated his strength and lost his job in '93. But he bounced back with a two-thirds parliamentary majority when Leghari booted out Benazir Bhutto and held elections in February '97. Sharif now moved swiftly to cover his flanks, getting rid of the 8th amendment in March through the 13th amendment and gagging dissent in Parliament...

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