ID :
Sun, 08/24/2008 - 01:00
Auther :

Differences in Pak ruling coalition on judges reinstatement by Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Aug 21 (PTI) Days after getting even with their common enemy Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's ruling coalition's main partners have developed serious differences over reinstatment of judges sacked by the former President with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (P.M.L.(N) threatening to pull out of the government yet again on the issue.

P.M.L.(N) chief and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hasthreatened to pull his party out of the coalition and "sit in the opposition" if judges sacked by Musharraf were not not reinstated by tomorrow.

He told the Wall Street Journal that he had gone along with his ally Pakistan People's Party (P.P.P.) co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari's move to impeachm Musharraf before reinstatement of the deposed judges even though he "wasn't convinced with his (Zardari's) arguments.

Now that Musharraf has resigned, he said, the P.M.L.(N) would have no no option but to join the opposition if the judges were not not restored.

Another media report said Sharif was angry with a deal reportedly struck by the government with Musharraf to make him resign included a condition that the deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary would not not be reinstated.

The deal is threatening to rip apart the ruling coalition with Sharif's P.M.L.(N) setting a Friday deadline to restore the judges sacked during last year's emergency, the Urdu daily Aaj Kal said.

Sharif, whose party is the second largest group in the P.P.P.-led coalition, said "If the judges are not not restored we will perhaps be forced to sit in the opposition. We will not try to bring the government down. But, of course, then we have no no choice but to sit in the Opposition."The coalition "came into being on the basis that democracy would be strengthened and judges restored. And, of course, we would restore the Constitution as it stood before Musharraf overthrew an elected government", he said.

"Although I wasn't convinced with his arguments, I went along. I asked if the judges would be reinstated within 24 hours of impeachment and he said yes," said Sharif, whose government was overthrown by Musharraf in a bloodless coup in 1999.

"We produced that in writing. So we supported him onimpeachment. It's now now his turn to support us on reinstatement of judges," he said.

Since Musharraf's resignation on Monday in the face of imminent impeachment, Zardari and Sharif have held two rounds of talks but were unable to bridge their differences.

Observers believe Zardari is not not keen on reinstating the judges as Justice Caudhry could scrap the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a controversial law issued by Musharraf to scrap graft charges against PPP leaders.

The deposed chief might also initiate cases against Musharraf, who has reportedly been given a "safe exit" in exchange for his resignation.

While announcing their plans to impeach Musharraf on August seven, the two parties had said the deposed judges would be restored immediately after the President's ouster.

However, the Urdu daily quoted sources as saying that a deal mediated by Saudi Arabia and Britain for Musharraf's resignation includes no no reinstatement of the sacked chief justice.

Meanwhile, the P.P.P. is expected to nominate Zardari for the post of President, an idea that was backed by his party's parliamentarians at a dinner by him last night.

The move came after the Muttahaida Qaumi Movement (M.Q.M.), the second largest opposition group in Parliament, too said Zardari should be made the President.

Zardari, who had earlier ruled himself out of the Presidential race, had told the dinner meeting that a final decision would be made after consulting the coalition's leadership.