Sharif, Zardari to meet Sunday to thrash out issues

March 8th, 2008 - 1:10 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 8 (IANS) The top leadership of the two major political parties - Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) - will meet in Islamabad Sunday without aides to hammer out differences over the formation of a coalition government. PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif will meet to finalize the future set up and take a final decision on the future of President Pervez Musharraf and the judges sacked by Musharraf last year.

“I believe this is going to be the final meeting and if both the leaders fail to agree on the vital issues, the PML-N may opt out of the future coalition government,” a PML-N leader told IANS.

The PML-N insists on restoration of the judges sacked by Muhsrraf after the Oct 3 emergency last year. However, the PPP has been saying that they see the issue as part of the larger issue of independence of the judiciary.

The PML-N has repeatedly been saying that they will not work with Musharraf, who sacked Sharif’s elected government in October 1999. Sharif has been asking Musharraf to resign before the parliament session.

According to well-placed sources, if all goes well in the initial one hour of the meeting Sharif and Zardari may be joined by aides. “I don’t think that Zardari is going to agree to Sharif’s demands for restoration of judges and removal of Musharraf,” said a PML-N leader requesting anonymity.

There is speculation that Zardari himself is interested in prime ministership but has to appoint some one else for the first three months as he did not contest the Feb 18 elections.

“He is the best choice by the presidency and he would also not like to lose this opportunity,” said a PPP insider.

In a preparatory session, senior leaders from both parties Friday night discussed various issues threadbare, including joining the federal cabinet, modus operandi for restoration of the apex courts judges and the future parliament’s stance on the status of President Musharraf.

The meeting was held at the residence of PML-N central leader Choudhary Nisar Ali Khan and attended by PML-N leader Khwaja Asif, PPP secretary general Raja Pervez Ashraf, Leader of Opposition in Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, PPP central information secretary Sherry Rehman and Farooq H. Niak.

During the meeting PPP leaders kept on insisting that the PML-N must join the cabinet, but PML-N leaders said they could not join the cabinet unless the sacked judges are restored. They also had reservations on taking oath from President Musharraf, whom they consider an unconstitutional head of state.

The sources said that though the leadership of both parties came close to an agreement on vital issues, it was not entirely successful and were likely to have another session Saturday ahead of the crucial meeting between Nawaz and Zardari on Sunday when the modalities of the coalition government would be finalised.

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