Pakistan’s ruling coalition resumes talks on sacked judges

May 1st, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
By Aroonim Bhuyan and Muhammad Najeeb
Dubai/Islamabad, May 1 (IANS) Pakistan’s ruling coalition partners resumed crucial talks in Dubai Thursday on the issue of restoration of sacked judges, with the top leadership hopeful of finding a way out soon. A day after the 30-day deadline on deciding on the sacked judges ended, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and partner Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) met at the Jumeirah Hilton hotel in Dubai over lunch.

The talks started at 1.45 p.m. (Dubai time) and after lunch moved to another part of the hotel.

“Yes, our talks are going on and we hope for an amicable solution,” Nawaz Sharif, PML-N leader and former Pakistani prime minister, told IANS when he emerged in between for a brief while.

His brother, Shahbaz Sharif, told reporters: “The world rides on hope, and we hope to come to an amicable solution.”

The two coalition partners had held seven-hour of talks Wednesday after their marathon discussions Monday remained inconclusive.

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, asked by reporters about the progress of the talks, said: “We are guests in this country, and we are not allowed to make political statements.”

The PML-N delegation was to return to Pakistan Wednesday night, but decided to stay on for one more round of talks Thursday.

The extended talks go beyond the Wednesday night deadline set by the coalition for restoration of sacked judges of higher judiciary.

However, Communications Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali of PML-N told reporters Wednesday: “The deadline is not so important. It’s a difference of a few hours here and there.”

Asked to elaborate, he said: “Some differences exist on legal and constitutional issues.”

The judges were sacked by President Pervez Musharraf when he imposed emergency last November.

Sharif arrived in Dubai Tuesday night in a last-ditch bid to work out a solution with Zardari. Talks were being held in Dubai as Zardari had “some personal issues to attend to”, according to Nissar Ali. Zardari and his wife late Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister who was assassinated late last year, had set up home in Dubai during the family’s long years of self-exile.

The PML-N is determined to undo Musharraf’s decisions and assert the democratically elected government’s authority, while the PPP is not too keen on linking constitutional reforms and restoration of judges.

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

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

Moreover, the PPP wants to club the constitution package for curtailing the powers of the president and the resolution to restore the judges, while the PML-N does not want to link the two issues.

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

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