April 19, 2008

NA to beat the clock on judges’ return

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 1:31 am


APRIL 19, 2008



Updated at  
Saturday, April 19, 2008

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif will witness from the VIP galleries of the National Assembly next week the momentous moving of a resolution for the restoration of the judges in the Lower House and its adoption the same day.

The ruling coalition is keeping its cards close to its chest as far as the exact date for moving the resolution is concerned. However, it is indicated that the history is likely to be made in the middle of next week.

Law Minister Farooq A Naek of the PPP and Petroleum Minister Khawaja Asif of the PML-N are engaged in fine-tuning the resolution, the draft of which was prepared by highly respected constitutional expert Fakhruddin G Ibrahim. It was reproduced by The News on March 19, 2008.

Sources said Khawaja Asif left for Lahore on Friday evening to have a meeting with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who, according to media reports, is planning to leave for London in connection with the treatment of his wife Kulsoom Nawaz.

According to these reports, Nawaz Sharif is to fly for London on April 20 (Sunday) and would be back in three days. However, sources close to the PML-N chief said he is not going along with his wife but would rather join her in London later. They said Nawaz Sharif would possibly be in Islamabad on Monday and would stay here for a couple of days. If this programme remains in tact, the resolution is likely to be moved by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Zardari, the PPP sources said, is already in Islamabad and there are no immediate plans for his flying out of the capital in the coming few days or till the middle of next week. When contacted Asif confirmed that the date for moving the resolution in the National Assembly would be finalised after checking the availability of both Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.

PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar told The News that it would not be possible for him to give the exact date when the resolution would be moved. He, however, said it is expected to be tabled earlier than general expectations.

April 30 is the deadline for the restoration of the judges’ as committed by the two top decision-makers in the Murree Declaration on March 9, 2008. The present session of the National Assembly is expected to continue till April 25. However, if the resolution is not moved till that date, it may be extended for a few days so that the commitment made to the people of Pakistan by the two top leaders is fulfilled.

About the resolution to be moved in the National Assembly, a source said its content and theme is not much different from the one recommended by Fakhruddin G Ibrahim last month. It would pay tributes to slain Benazir Bhutto and others who made ultimate sacrifices for the restoration of parliamentary democracy in the country.

The resolution would say the Supreme Court and high court judges could not be removed from office except as provided in Article 209(7) of the Constitution. It would ask the federal government to perform its obligation under Article 190 of the Constitution and act in aid of the chief justices and judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, who were illegally restrained on and after 3rd Nov, 2007 so that they may resume their judicial functions in accordance with the Constitution.

Because of mounting public pressure on the judges restoration issue, it is expected that the resolution would be adopted by the National Assembly unopposed. Although all the coalition partners — the PPP, the PML-N, the JUI-F and the ANP — would be its mover, even in the case of the PML-Q most of its members are now publicly favouring to see the pre-Nov 3rd judiciary back. However, it is not yet clear how the MQM would react because it has been using harsh language, particularly against deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. But, for the last few weeks it is keeping mum on judges restoration issue.


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