Pakistan allies split over judges

Ruling coalition working on plan to reinstate judges dismissed by president.

    Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice, was sacked in November along with several other judges [Reuters]

     

    Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the chief justice, and dozens of other judges under a state of emergency in November, when it appeared that the supreme court would going to overturn his re-election as president.

    Pact signed

    The coalition partners, who defeated Musharraf's allies in parliamentary elections held in February, signed a pact pledging to restore them within 30 days of the new government taking power.

    Zardari, Benazir Bhutto's husband who took over the leadership of the Pakistan People's Party after her assassination, said a committee of coalition members would examine the best way to implement the deal.

    He said he wanted a "broad-based" plan for the restoration of the judiciary, adding that he was in favour of "finding a commonality without any agitation."
      
    According to party insiders, the main point of division is whether to leave Chaudhry out of the plan to restore the judges.

    Challenges

    Musharraf's position could be challenged if Chaudhry is restored as chief justice and he could 

    also seek to overturn an amnesty deal that cleared Zardari of corruption charges.

    The deal, which was agreed by Musharraf, allowed Zardari and Bhutto to return home from exile last year and take part in the parliamentary elections.

    Sharif is admant that Musharraf should resign the presidency, but Zardari appears less keen to provoke a confrontation with the president. 

    Asked about whether the ruling coalition would seek strip Musharraf of the power to dissolve parliament, Sharif said: "I want it to be done quickly and he wants us to wait. I am showing patience."

    Chaudhry and the other judges were freed last month from house arrest by Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's new prime minister.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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