Pakistan coalition partners meeting to discuss judges’ restoration

April 28th, 2008 - 2:00 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, April 28 (IANS) The two major partners in Pakistan’s coalition government are meeting in Dubai to finalise the restoration of the judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf when he imposed emergency Nov 3 last year. Asif Ali Zardari, chief of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that leads the coalition, would be meeting leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Monday.

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had formed a four-member committee headed by his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif to negotiate the issue of the judges’ reinstatement with Zardari in Dubai where he is vacationing with his children.

Pakistan Law Minister Farooq H. Naik has expressed hope that the outcome of the meeting would be “positive”.

Naik told reporters that there is complete agreement between both the parties on the restoration of judges. Both the groups had formed a joint committee to draw a mechanism for the restoration of judges.

Naik said both parties had reviewed the recommendations regarding the judges’ reinstatement in detail and the committee had drafted a few proposals.

However, sources in the ruling coalition told IANS that the committee could not agree on one formula and “there are huge differences between both the parties”.

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

Naik said Zardari would meet Nawaz Sharif after reviewing the proposals of the joint committee. After their meeting, the recommendations would be finalized and the procedure of restoration would be determined.

However, there are doubts about the outcome of the meeting as Zardari has been saying that the judges gave him no relief when he was jailed.

Zardari, the husband of slain PPP chief Benazir Bhutto, was arrested in November 1996 when the PPP government was sacked by then president Farooq Leghari. Zardari was released in 2004.

Before the formation of the government last month, both PPP and PML-N signed a declaration that they will reinstate the sacked judges within 30 days of assuming power. The 30-day deadline expires April 30.

Talking to reporters in Lahore before leaving for Dubai, Shahbaz Sharif said his party had taken a clear stance that the issue of the judges’ reinstatement should not be linked with the constitutional package that is meant to undo the amendments made by Musharraf and cut his powers.

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

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