CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

April 29, 2008

PPP, PML-N fail to break impasse

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 8:37 pm
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THE NATION

APRIL 29, 2008
Abrar Saeed
ISLAMABAD – Both Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan Peoples Party leaders dealing with the complex issue of restoration of the judges stuck to their guns and the Dubai meeting between them was put off without breaking the impasse.
The sources privy to the developments of the meeting, in which the proposals formulated by the seven-member committee by the two sides to hammer out differences on the issue, were discussed between PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML(N) President Mian Shahbaz Sharif along with their aides failed to break the ice and left the negotiation table empty handed.
The sources said that though the Dubai meeting had failed to make any headway on the core issue of restoration of the judges to pre-November 3 position, still the two sides were away from the breakup position and the parties could enter into second round on Tuesday (today).
PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari was assisted in the meeting by Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farooq H. Naik, who is also the chairman of the committee heading the seven-member committee tasked to work out solution on the judges issue by both the sides, and Rehman Malik, while PML(N) President Mian Shahbaz Sharif was assisted in the talks by Senior Federal Minister for Communications Ch. Nisar Ali Khan and Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Kh. Asif.
The two sides had a marathon session spread over several hours before they left the talks inconclusive before the dinner. Later, both the sides had dinner together but there was no official word about the meeting and it was also not announced whether they were meeting again on Tuesday (today) or not.
The interviews with the political leadership of both the parties back in the country and the sources close to the development taking place on the national political horizon were of the view that now the matter of restoration of the judges before the cutoff date of April 30 was impossible, however, the two sides could give some definite date for tabling of the resolution for restoration of judges before the National Assembly by that date.
The sources in the main coalition partners in the ruling alliance disclosed to The Nation that the deadlock was again on linkage of the resolution with the constitutional package for the judiciary and PPP was not ready to take the two separately.
On the other hand the PML(N) side headed by its President Mian Shahbaz Sharif had also put his foot down and refused to get the two – resolution and constitutional package – linked and made it clear to PPP side that the resolution and the constitutional package were two separate things and both must be treated separately.
It was further informed that on the constitutional package too there was a deadlock as PML(N) were opposed to slashing down the tenure of the judges and simply wanted the restoration of the superior courts judges to pre-November 3 position.
But on the other hand PPP side wanted to get the resolution linked with the constitutional package and insisted that the two should be tabled simultaneously in the Lower House of Parliament.
There was also difference between the two sides over the cutoff date for tabling of the matter before the National Assembly as PML(N) side was of the view that the 30 days countdown started with the formation of the Federal Government while PPP took it as the completion of the provincial governments which was completed by the installation of the Punjab Cabinet last week. PPP leadership argued that the Federal Government was completed after the installation of governments in all the four federating units.
In the face of the stalemate in the talks, which could result in a complete breakup, the parties back home had started doing their homework to cope with the situation in case of the worst situation – the split in the ruling alliance.
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was under tremendous pressure to leave the ministries in case the judges were not restored as promised and in this connection the sources were of the view that Mian Nawaz Sharif would come up with his policy statement either on Tuesday or Wednesday after having the detailed briefing on the matter by his team on return from Dubai.
Mian Nawaz Sharif had made it clear on a number of occasions that in case the deadline for the restoration of the judges was not met, then they would leave the Federal Cabinet but would continue extending unconditional support to the ruling alliance.
On the other hand to meet any eventuality as a result of breakup of talks on judges issue the PPP side had rushed into a deal with MQM and the latter had announced joining the PPP government in Sindh Province giving some solace to the former.

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