Nawaz party not rejoining federal cabinet

April 13th, 2009 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Nawaz Sharif Islamabad, April 13 (IANS) The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has all but rejected Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s invitation to rejoin the federal cabinet, saying it would, however, cooperate with the government.
“We will cooperate with the government on all important issues but we do not want to join the government,” PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq told reporters here Monday.

“However, a final decision on this will be taken by Nawaz Sharif,” he added.

Dawn News channel quoted Ashfaq Sarwar, the special advisor to the punjab chief minister, as saying PML-N bosses were under pressure from the rank and file to stay out of the federal government.

On Sunday, Gilani had formally invited the PML-N to return to the government, saying the issues on which it had walked out last year had either been resolved or were in the process of being ironed out.

Gilani conveyed the invitation during a meeting here Sunday with Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab province and Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother.

Gilani’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the PML-N, along with two smaller outfits, had formed a coalition after their one-two finish at the February 2008 general elections.

The PML-N, however, walked out when PPP co-chair and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari reneged on two key pledges made in the charter of democracy governance agenda the two parties had agreed on before the elections.

One of these related to the reinstatement of sacked Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and the other apex and high court judges then president Pervez Musharraf had dismissed after imposing an emergency Nov 3, 2007.

The other was the repeal of the 17th constitutional amendment Musharraf had pushed through in 2003 transferring key executive powers from the prime minister’s office to the presidency.

These include the power to appoint the service chiefs and the Supreme Court chief justice, as also to dismiss the federal and provincial governments, the lower house of parliament and the provincial legislatures.

The judges were restored last month after Nawaz Sharif led a high octane lawyers’ “long march” to Islamabad that was also meant to protest a Supreme Court ruling barring, on corruption charges, him and Shahbaz Sharif from contesting elections or holding public office.

The verdict saw the younger Sharif losing his job as Punjab chief minister but he got it back after the federal government appealed the verdict and the Supreme Court stayed its order.

As for the 17th amendment, the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament has formed a committee to work out the modalities of repealing it.

Once that happens, the presidency will be left with only ceremonial powers.

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