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Central & South Asia
Pakistan allies split over judges
Ruling coalition working on plan to reinstate judges dismissed by president.
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2008 15:34 GMT
Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice, was sacked in November along with several other judges [Reuters]

 

Pakistan's ruling coalition has failed to agree on a plan to restore judges that were sacked by Pervez Musharraf, the country's president.
However, Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister and head of the PML-N party, denied that the issue is divisive and said on Tuesday that they will be reinstated "soon".
"A resolution will soon be in the national assembly for the restoration of the judges and the constitutional package will come later," Sharif said after two days of talks with Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan People's Party.

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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