PPP could face revolt on judges’ restoration

June 7th, 2008 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, June 7 (IANS) The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that heads the country’s ruling coalition could face a revolt on the issue of restoring the judges sacked after an emergency was declared last year. Over 100 of its MPs are threatening to join a protest march lawyers have planned for Tuesday to demand immediate reinstatement of the judges. “Over 80 percent of my colleagues are eager to join the long march if the party leadership does not stop them officially,” The News Saturday quoted a PPP member of the National Assembly as saying.

“We feel threatened by the incumbent judiciary and have no faith in them,” he added.

President Pervez Musharraf had sacked chief justice Ifthikar Mohammad Chaudhry and the entire Supreme Court bench, as also many High Court judges, as they refused to take a fresh oath after he declared an emergency Nov 3, 2007.

The PPP had initially agreed with alliance partner Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on restoring the judges as part of a package to restore the constitution as it existed in 1973.

The PPP later backtracked, saying the two issues were not interlinked. The PML-N then pulled its nine ministers out of the government but remained in the coalition.

Another PPP parliamentarian said party MPs were provided copies of the constitutional package only Thursday at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

“Most of (us) felt humiliated as the media had already provided us with details of the package,” she added.

“Even the leaders of the allied parties had got copies of the package while the elected members of the party were provided copies only a week later,” the PPP parliamentarian maintained.

During the Thursday meeting, Zafar Ali Shah, a veteran MP from interior Sindh, “even suggested to the prime minister that the judges should be restored forthwith while the package should follow their restoration”, The News said.

“Most of the MPs in their speeches followed the pattern set by the veteran politician, who is known for taking an independent stance in the party circles,” the newspaper added.

“Background interviews with some other PPP parliamentarians revealed that the party feels trapped due to the challenge posed by the lawyers’ community in the wake of the Long March call June 10 while some legislators believe that though their party had taken over the affairs of the country yet democracy has not been restored,” The News said.

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