The Pakistani judges deposed by President Pervez Musharraf under the state of emergency in November 2007 will be reinstated on May 12, according to ruling coalition member Nawaz Sharif. (Report: C.Moore)
Former Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif said on Friday that top judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf will be reinstated on May 12, posing a fresh threat to the key US ally's grip on power.
Sharif said the ruling coalition will introduce a parliamentary resolution to restore some 60 judges, including the country's chief justice, whom Musharraf deposed under a state of emergency in November.
The two-time ex-premier made the announcement a day after holding talks in Dubai with coalition partner Asif Ali Zardari in a bid to resolve a deadlock over the issue that threatened their fragile alliance.
"God willing, all the deposed judges will be restored on May 12," Sharif told a news conference in the eastern city of Lahore after meeting with senior members of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Party.
"The national assembly will approve a resolution the same day followed by the issuance of notification of the restoration of judges sacked unconstitutionally on November 3," he said.
Musharraf imposed emergency rule and ousted his arch foe Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the other judges when it appeared they might overturn his re-election as president the previous month.
The judges could take up fresh challenges to Musharraf's re-election after they are restored -- a move that would prompt yet another standoff between the president and the judiciary in the troubled nuclear-armed nation.
"We will continue our struggle to rid this new democratic era of Pervez Musharraf," said Sharif, whom then-General Musharraf ousted in a bloodless coup in October 1999.
Sharif's party and the Pakistan People's Party of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto trounced Musharraf's allies in elections in February and formed a government the following month.
Zardari, the co-chairman of the PPP, and Sharif agreed at a summit in the hill resort of Murree in March to restore the judges, but a 30-day deadline that they also gave at the time expired on Wednesday.
The PPP had insisted that judicial reforms also be part of a package that brings back the judges. But Sharif, the head of the PML-N party, wanted them to be reinstated without conditions.
Asked how they had resolved the issue at the talks in Dubai, Sharif gave no details but said: "There is no relationship between resolution and the constitutional package. Both are different things."
Sources in both parties said earlier however that the parliamentary resolution would be followed later by a constitutional package.
The package could include a time limit on the tenure of the chief justice and making the judiciary answerable to parliament, they said, although they would not give full details.
Zardari has not spoken about the results of the talks.
Sharif however said that Zardari wanted to keep judges who were sworn in by Musharraf under emergency rule and who then proclaimed his re-election as president legal.
"We expressed our reservation about the judges who took oath after Nov 3 to Zardari but he insisted that we retain those judges," Sharif told reporters.
Political sources say Zardari has been under heavy pressure from the United States and Britain, which regard Musharraf as a key ally in the "war on terror", not to destabilise the president's position
Date created : 2008-05-02