Accord on most issues, except on judges’
ISLAMABAD, May 27: The Pakistan Muslim League-N on Tuesday agreed to most points of the PPP-proposed constitutional package, but demanded reinstatement of the deposed judges through a parliamentary resolution in accordance with the Murree Declaration before tabling of the 18th Constitution Amendment Bill in the National Assembly, sources in the two parties said.
The PML-N sources said party chief Nawaz Sharif called for an early impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf during his meeting with PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari at the Punjab House in Islamabad.
Mr Zardari briefed Mr Sharif on salient features of the 62-point constitutional package which, he said, was designed to pave the way for reinstatement of the deposed judges and ensuring the supremacy of parliament.
It was the first meeting between the heads of the two main parties of the ruling coalition after the PML-N pulled out of the federal cabinet on May 13 over the judges’ issue.
Earlier, Mr Sharif had stated he would meet Mr Zardari only after the PPP came up with some concrete proposals on the judges’ issue. Mr Sharif visited Islamabad two to three times in the last two weeks, but did not meet Mr Zardari.
On Tuesday, he specially came to the federal capital to meet Mr Zardari – a move which showed the two sides were serious about keeping the coalition intact.
Farzana Raja, a PPP MNA, MNA-elect Aftab Shaban Mirani and former MNA Nayyar Bokhari accompanied Mr Zardari. Mr Sharif was assisted in the talks by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Ishaq Dar and Ahsan Iqbal.
Law Minister Farooq Naek and some other major PPP leaders and ministers, who have been holding talks with the PML-N on the judges’ issue for the past three months, were conspicuous by their absence from the meeting.
The leaders of the two parties avoided talking to reporters who had gathered outside the Punjab House, situated near the official residence of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
Political observers believe that the decision by Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif not to speak to the media shows that they are still trying to remove differences.
Sources told Dawn Mr Sharif had assured Mr Zardari that PML-N would support the PPP on all those points in the amendment bill that were in line with the Charter of Democracy.
The PML-N also supported the move to clip the powers of President Pervez Musharraf by scrapping the Article 58(2)b and transferring the authority to appoint governors and services chiefs from the president to the prime minister.
Ahsan Iqbal, a PML-N leader, told reporters his party wanted restoration of the judges in accordance with the Murree Declaration. He refused to comment on the proposed constitutional package, saying that PML-N would respond only after getting a draft of the bill.
In reply to a question about the impeachment of President Musharraf, he said it was the desire of his party that the government should immediately take this step.
According to a handout issued by the newly-established Zardari House press office, the meeting between the PPP and PML-N leaders concluded that the proposed constitutional package would be presented in parliament after developing a consensus among coalition partners.
The handout said that Mr Zardari had presented his point of view and explained the salient features of the constitutional package to the PML-N leadership.
He asked Mr Sharif to support the PPP so that the supremacy of parliament and civilian institutions could be restored.
Both sides agreed that all issues, including the issue of judges’ restoration, would be settled through talks. Law Minister Farooq Naek is likely to present the package to PML-N legal experts in a day or two.