Musharraf’s olive branch - compromise on judges

February 28th, 2008 - 11:12 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Feb 28 (IANS) In a major climb down, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has sent a message to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chief Asif Ali Zardari that sacked judges of the higher courts can be reinstated provided they don’t hear cases against him, said an official privy to the developments. The olive branch to the PPP, which is discussing details of government formation with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N), has apparently come in the form of a message conveyed through a common friend.

“The presidency is ready to restore the judges provided they don’t sit on benches hearing cases against the president,” said the top government official.

He said the presidency has also suggested that judges appointed by Musharraf after last year’s Nov 3 emergency would be accommodated in the same positions or transferred to government positions usually held by serving judges.

“Musharraf has also agreed to forego powers of sacking parliament and appointing services chiefs,” the official told IANS, adding that in return he wants an assurance that no impeachment move would be tabled.

On Wednesday, in a rare show of strength, the PPP, PML-N and the Awami National Party (ANP) and independents challenged Musharraf to accept his defeat.

The PPP won 88 seats, the PML-N 66 and the ANP 10 in the elections. Further, 27 independents have expressed their willingness to join the coalition. The Musharraf-backed PML-Quaid could only win 39 seats.

According to the official, Zardari has not directly refused the options given by the presidency but said he would discuss this with his partners, particularly Sharif, who has been saying Musharraf is not acceptable under any circumstance.

In 1999, Musharraf as army chief overthrew Sharif’s elected government and a year later sent him into forced exile to Saudi Arabia. Sharif managed to return in November to lead his party in the national elections held last week.

The newly formed coalition has apparently acquired two-third majority in the parliament required to impeach the president. “If he (president) refuses to step down, the coalition has the option to impeach him,” Sharif told reporters after Wednesday’s meeting in Islamabad.

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