Sharif, Zardari conclude talks, promise ‘good news’(Second Lead)

May 1st, 2008 - 10:58 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
By Aroonim Bhuyan and Muhammad Najeeb
Dubai/Islamabad, May 1 (IANS) Pakistan’s main ruling partners Thursday ended the final round of their talks in Dubai on reinstating sacked judges without any disclosure of their decision, but said they have “good news” for the nation. “Yes, we have concluded our talks. We have good news for the people of Pakistan and we’ll announce our decision tomorrow (Friday) in Pakistan,” leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said after the four-day dialogue.

However, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari left the venue without talking to media minutes before Sharif and others came out of the hotel where they had talks.

“Both sides have agreed on both the issues - on President Pervez Muharraf and restoration of judges,” Sharif said.

“The restoration of judges will take place in accordance with the Muree declaration,” he said, but hinted that a constitutional amendment could be brought about to solve the tangle.

Sharif refused to give details, saying they would talk to reporters after a PML-N parliamentary party meeting in Lahore Friday. He also did not elaborate on what the parties decided about Musharraf’s future and powers.

Calling Zardari his “brother”, Sharif said he was “very happy at the way the PPP took forward the talks in a positive manner”. Sharif leaves for Pakistan Thursday night.

TV news channels reported that Zardari “walked out ” of the meeting but Information Minister Sherry Rehman said in Islamabad: “He left the meeting after conclusion of talks.”

“We asked Zardari to leave earlier as he had to go to his house for some family issues,” Sharif said.

Before the formation of the government last month, both PPP and PML-N signed the Murree Declaration that they would reinstate the sacked judges within 30 days of assuming power.

The PML-N and PPP held the last round of talks at the Jumeirah Hilton hotel in Dubai, a day after the expiry of their self-set 30-day deadline for restoration of the sacked judges of Pakistan’s higher judiciary.

On Wednesday, the two dominant partners of the ruling four-party coalition held seven hours of talks after their marathon discussions Monday remained inconclusive.

The PML-N delegation was to return to Pakistan Wednesday night, but decided to stay on for one more round of talks.

Musharraf sacked more than 60 judges of the superior courts soon after he announced emergency Nov 3 and only those who showed allegiance to him were allowed to join work. Sharif, since his return to Pakistan from exile, has been saying that his party, if voted to power, would restore all sacked judges.

Sharif arrived in Dubai Tuesday night in a last-ditch bid to work out with Zardari a solution to the vexatious judges issue. The talks were held in Dubai as Zardari had “some personal issues to attend to”. Zardari and his wife late Banazir Bhutto, former prime minister who was assassinated in December last year, had set up home in Dubai during the family’s long years of self-exile.

The PML-N is determined to undo the decisions of Musharraf and assert the democratically elected government’s authority. It even questions the legality of Musharraf’s presidentship. The PPP is not too keen on linking constitutional reforms and restoration of judges.

PML-N sources said party leaders wanted the judges to be restored within the set deadline as they believed any delay would leave a bad impression on the lawyers’ community in particular and the public in general.

The two sides differ widely over the modalities of restoring the judges, especially the proposed constitutional package that envisages fixing the tenure for the chief justice. The PML-N is averse to the idea of fixing any tenure for the post.

Earlier, before going for the talks, Sharif expressed the resolve that they would not bend before the oppressive and tyrannical elements and the country would be put on the path of democracy and democratic institutions would be made functional.

He said every effort would be made to keep the ruling coalition intact. He, however, said that there could not be any compromise on the restoration of judiciary over which their party had been mandated in the Feb 18 elections.

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