South Asia News
Pakistan's ruling alliance likely to miss new deadline for judges
May 9, 2008, 8:49 GMT
Islamabad - Pakistan's law minister Friday said the ruling coalition was unlikely to meet the new May 12 deadline for the restoration of judges deposed by President Pervez Musharraf, bringing the fragile alliance on the verge of collapse.
The two major coalition leaders, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, agreed last week in Dubai to pass a resolution in parliament on May 12 demanding the reinstatement of more than 60 judges and constituted a committee to draft the resolution and devise the method for its implementation.
But Law Minister Farooq Naik said the committee members had 'two divergent opinions on the method to implement the resolution' and the matter would now be taken to the two leaders.
'Since all the differences have not yet been resolved so I do not see the National Assembly session to be convened on May 12,' he told reporters in Islamabad.
Zardari, who succeeded his slain wife Benazir Bhutto to run Pakistan People's Party, and Sharif, the former premier and head of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, formed an alliance after thrashing political backers of Musharraf in February 18 elections.
They vowed to bring back by the end of April the senior justices, including the then chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, whom Musharraf sacked under an emergency order on November 3 just as the Supreme Court was expected to rule against his controversial re-election for the his next five-year presidential term.
The coalition partners hit a deadlock in the following weeks over the issue, with PPP showing reluctance as the restoration of judges could put Musharraf in a corner, forcing him into head-on clashes with the governing coalition.
The sacked judges, when restored with full powers, can revoke Musharraf's victory in the presidential vote, which was approved by the new Supreme Court that he packed with handpicked judges following his imposition of emergency rule.
Sharif, on the other hand, is willing to go all out against the military dictator-turned-politician, who ousted him in a bloodless coup in 1999.
After the last weeks' Zardari-Sharif meeting in Dubai it appeared the the sides had settled the issue, however, a fresh round of talks are scheduled in London on Friday.
'The entire matter now lies with the party heads,' said Naik.
Analysts believe the failure of this round of talks may lead to the breakdown of the already fragile coalition, throwing the country into yet another political crisis.