Diplomats in Pakistan a puzzled lot
Islamabad, June 6 (IANS) As Pakistan’s political circus continues unabated, foreign diplomats here are at their wits end in figuring out when ringmaster Asif Ali Zardari, co-chair of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that leads the country’s ruling coalition, will script the last act. “The people of Pakistan are not the only ones who feel confused and puzzled because of the intriguing politics of the top political leaders after the elections - foreign diplomats in Islamabad are equally baffled,” The News said Friday.
Background interviews conducted by the newspaper revealed that the majority of the diplomats are also experiencing “the disturbing trend of uncertainty and ambiguity” and they were “bewildered as they don’t know which way the intriguing politics has been heading in the past two months.
“They are finding it difficult to send their assessment reports back home as they did not know what was happening in the country,” the newspaper added.
Pakistan’s political roller coaster centres around the restoration of chief justice Ifthikar Mohammad Chaudhry and the Supreme Court and High Court judges President Pervez Musharraf had sacked after declaring an emergency in November.
The PPP had initially agreed with its coalition partner, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, that the judges should be reinstated — as part of a constitutional package to restore the statute as it existed in 1973.
The PPP later backtracked, saying the two issues were not linked. This prompted the PML-N, led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif whom Musharraf had overthrown in a military coup in 1999, to pull its nine ministers out of the government last month.
The PML-N, however, continues to be part of the ruling coalition.
In the midst of this, foreign diplomats are finding it difficult to fix appointments with PPP ministers for interacting on issues of mutual interest.
One diplomat said the delaying tactics being adopted by Zardari on resolving the judges’ issue, followed by the resignation of the PML-N ministers, were taking their toll as was manifest by the confusion that reigns in the Diplomatic Enclave here.
The diplomats, who did not want to be named, said they could not understand why PPP leaders could not find time to sit together to examine whether Pakistan needed to change the foreign policy it had followed for nine years under Musharraf.
“Even if there was any change in the minds of politicians about the foreign policy, it has not reached the foreign office,” The News said.
“The diplomats claimed that they even found the PPP leaders and ministers confused about the current situation, what to talk of the bureaucracy or the other politicians with whom they frequently get in touch,” it added.
“The diplomats believed that indecision on the part of the PPP leaders was mostly responsible for the sense of dejection and despondency which they were witnessing among the people,” The News said.