Pakistan ruling coalition denies rift over judges

August 20th, 2008 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 20 (IANS) Pakistan’s ruling coalition denied Wednesday it was split over the restoration of Supreme Court judges sacked nine months ago and said an announcement giving them their jobs back was likely Friday.A two-member committee of Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfanday Wali Khan and Jamait Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) head Maulana Fazlur Rehman met here to finalize the modalities to restore the judges the posts taken away by then president Pervez Musharraf in November last year.

“We have discussed in detail the restoration issue and hopefully will come up with concrete recommendations that will be presented in the meeting of the heads of ruling parties Friday morning,” Khan later told IANS.

The comments came two days after Musharraf resigned as president to avoid impeachment, ending a turbulent era of nearly nine years that began when he grabbed power in 1999, ousting the government of Nawaz Sharif.

Khan said they had “good news” for the nation.

“We got rid of the dictator (Musharraf) and hopefully will fulfil other demands (of) the people,” he said, urging the media to refrain from spreading “baseless news”.

On Wednesday, the New York Times and several Pakistani papers and TV channels said that the ruling coalition, consisting of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), ANP and JUI, was about to split as they had failed to reach unanimity over the sacked judges.

Some TV channels reported that PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari was against bringing back the sacked judges and that PML-N leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had decided to part ways with the government.

“For god’s sake don’t give such baseless reports… We were together in the meeting. Neither Zardari not Nawaz Sharif said this,” Khan told media persons.

PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also told the media that he hoped that the announcement regarding restoration of judges would be made Friday before noon.

He said both the PPP and PML-N were committed to restoring the judges and “this is wrong to say that there were huge differences in the coalition…

“Yes, there are differences but they will be overcome and the judges will be restored.”

But Khan insisted that there was no chance of giving Musharraf a free passage out of Pakistan.

“What Musharraf did with Nawaz Sharif, with his family and with his government is not an issue, the issue is what he did with the nation in nine years,” said Khan.

“If the relatives of people who were killed in the Lal Masjid raid, if the relatives of people killed in suicide attacks, if the relatives of people killed in tribal areas, and if this nation is ready to forgive and forget these crimes, PML-N will have no objection in giving him immunity.”

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