| Wasi Zafar
Islamabad, Aug. 25: The Pakistan government today replaced the law minister, Islamabad’s chief commissioner and inspector general of police (IGP) in a direct fallout of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s rulings.
The government also accepted law secretary Justice Mansoor Ahmad’s resignation. Ahmad had reportedly played an active role in finalising the presidential reference against Chaudhry earlier this year.
President Pervez Musharraf had suspended Chaudhry for misconduct and misuse of powers on March 9. However, the supreme court had declared the reference “illegal and unlawful” and reinstated the chief justice on July 20.
While the government did not give any reasons for throwing out chief commissioner Khalid Pervaiz and IGP Chaudhry Iftikhar, sources said the police harassment of the chief justice four days after his suspension led to their replacement.
“The government also deemed it fit to change the portfolio of law minister Wasi Zafar after the law secretary resigned,” sources told The Telegraph. Zahid Hamid has been appointed law minister while Zafar will now look after the privatisation portfolio.
Changes in the law ministry come almost a month after Makhdoom Ali Khan quit as the attorney general of Pakistan.
Musharraf, who assumed power after ousting former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in October 1999, is facing the worst political crisis of his eight-year military rule following Chaudhry’s reinstatement and the supreme court’s decision to allow Sharif and his brother Shahbaz, former chief minister of Punjab , to return to Pakistan .
“Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif have an inalienable right to return and remain in the country as citizens of Pakistan,” a seven-member bench of the court had ruled on Thursday. “It is a matter of days now,” a senior leader of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League Siddique-ul-Farooque told reporters in Islamabad while referring to the former Premier’s plans to return to the country. The Central Working Committee of the league, which met in Islamabad today, also decided that Sharif should return home before Ramazan which starts on September 15.
Cruise missile tested
Pakistan successfully tested a new air-launched cruise missile with stealth design today, the military said.
The missile, named Hatf-8 (Ra’ad), has a range of 350 km and can carry all types of warheads, the military said. “The missile has a low detection probability due to stealth design and materials,” it said.
The military said the missile would give its aircraft “a strategic stand-off capability on land and at sea”.
The test came a month after Pakistan tested the nuclear-capable Babur Hatf VII cruise missile, which has a range of 700 km. The Babur was first tested in 2005.
The Ra’ad — which means thunder in Arabic — has an accuracy comparable to the Babur missile, the military said. President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz congratulated the scientists and engineers involved in the development of the new missile.
“Pakistan’s defence will continue to be strengthened as an imperative of national security,” the military quoted the two leaders as saying.
Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India routinely carry out missile tests despite a peace process they launched in early 2004. The neighbours carried out nuclear weapons tests in 1998.