Pakistan faced fresh turmoil on Sunday after President Asif Ali Zardari and the top judge clashed over court appointments, threatening a showdown between the fragile government and the judiciary.
The crisis erupted when the Supreme Court late Saturday suspended a decree issued by Zardari appointing two senior judges apparently without consulting Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who favoured other candidates.
The showdown threatens Zardari’s weak government at a time of mounting US pressure on the nuclear-armed country to eliminate Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, viewed as aggravating the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
As speculation over the fallout from the rift grew, Zardari’s spokesman denied that emergency law could be imposed and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the nation’s democracy was not at risk.
“I don’t think it can destabilise everything. This is not a problem which cannot be solved. Institutions are strong, democracy is stable,” Gilani told reporters. “We will give our viewpoint in the court. Let the court decide.”