Sharif, Zardari sound positive, talks continue(Third Lead)

April 30th, 2008 - 7:51 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
By Aroonim Bhuyan and Muhammad Najeeb
Dubai/Islamabad, April 30 (IANS) Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari sounded a positive note as they met again in Dubai Wednesday to discuss restoration of sacked judges. Deadlock over the issue had been threatening Pakistan’s ruling coalition. However, “talks are going on and I am confident that there will be a positive outcome,” Sharif told reporters. He was accompanied by Zardari.

The two sides held a two-hour meeting over lunch Wednesday and met again for tea.

Asked about the restoration of judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf when he imposed emergency last November, Zardari refused direct comment but said: “Our coalition is very strong and there are no differences between us”.

Earlier, Sharif told the ARY television network: “Musharraf might be laughing at this whole mess (extended talks). But he shouldn’t laugh much because our coalition is going to continue and I will work for restoration of democracy in parliament.”

The former prime minister was optimistic ahead of the Wednesday afternoon meeting as well. “I am not under any sort of pressure,” he told reporters.

“I hope to have a successful meeting (with Zardari) and I don’t think the coalition government would be affected,” he said.

Sharif arrived in Dubai Tuesday night in a last ditch bid to work out a solution with Zardari.

He told reporters on arrival that though he knew there was very little time left for a decision - the deadline set by the coalition for restoration of judges expires Wednesday night - he hoped that he could work out a solution with Zardari during the meeting.

Dubai-based Pakistani TV channel Geo TV, quoting unnamed sources, said that PML-N leaders had made it clear to Zardari that they could quit the government after Wednesday evening if a solution to the issue was not found.

“If not resolved, the situation (in Pakistan) will once again lead to a political crisis,” reports quoted unidentified analysts as saying.

Talks between the two parties had remained inconclusive Monday night.

The PML-N is determined to undo the decisions of Musharraf 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.

“We may take unilateral action and move a resolution in parliament for the restoration of the judges if the PPP refuses to restore them,” PML-N leader Jaffer Iqbal told the ARY television channel.

Another PML-N leader, requesting anonymity, said the party might give a few days to the PPP to reinstate the judges after the April 30 deadline expires.

“If they still refuse to restore the judges, the PML-N will consider options like sitting in the opposition,” he said.

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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