No returning to cabinet till judges restored: Nawaz

July 14th, 2008 - 2:03 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad, July 14 (IANS) The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has made it clear that it would return to the cabinet of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani only after the reinstatement of the Supreme Court judges who had been sacked after an emergency was imposed last November. PML-N chief and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif made his party’s position clear when Gilani telephoned him Sunday to take him into confidence over a proposed cabinet expansion.

“He turned down an invitation of the prime minister to rejoin the federal cabinet and made it clear that the PML-N would not become a part of the federal cabinet till the restoration of the deposed judges,” The News reported Monday.

There could be “no compromise” on this issue, the newspaper quoted Sharif as saying.

At the same time, Sharif “assured the prime minister that his party would resolve all issues through consultation with the PPP and would remain a part of the coalition government”, The News said.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leads the ruling coalition.

Sharif also named PML-N leader Nisar Ali for conducting negotiations with the PPP on appointing heads of standing committees and parliamentary secretaries and on expansion of the federal cabinet.

The PPP and the PML-N had emerged as the two largest parties after the February general elections. PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari had initially agreed to Sharif’s demand that the Supreme Court judges Musharraf had sacked after imposing an emergency be reinstated.

Zardari then backtracked, saying the judges would be reinstated only as part of a package to restore the constitution to what existed in 1973.

This prompted the PML-N to pull its nine ministers out of Gilani’s cabinet, even as it remained in the coalition.

The government last month took the backdoor route to restoring the judges by raising the Supreme Court strength to 29 from the existing 16 to enable the retention of the new bench Musharraf had sworn in under the Provisional Constitutional Order he promulgated along with the emergency.

This provision was contained in the federal budget for fiscal 2008-09 that began July 1. The PML-N had abstained from voting on the budget.

The physical restoration of the judges is, however, yet to happen.

The PPP now says that by not opposing the budget, the PML-N had actually supported it.

“Now it has become a law as the PML-N supported the passing of the Finance Bill in parliament,” PPP Senator Latif Khosa told a private TV channel Sunday.

He also said the PPP would not fill the portfolios the PML-N had vacated.

“Though the PPP will not fill the vacant portfolios, it would add ministers of state in the cabinet to improve the government’s performance,” Khosa added.

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