Members of the Muslim League N have quit the cabinet over disagreement on reinstating judges
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: The leader of the Pakistan Muslim League N, Nawaz Sharif withdrew his party from Pakistan’s cabinet on Monday. Rasing doubts over the country’s transition to democracy after eight years of military rule. Sharif and the Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Asif Ali Zardari formed a coalition after defeating President Musharraf’s allies in February’s elections. Sharif, whose last government was thrown out by Musharraf in a 1999 coup, has repeatedly called for Musharraf to resign. Zardari appears more willing to work with him.
Both Zardari and Sharif have called for the reinstatement of dozens of judges axed by Musharraf when he declared a state of emergency last November, to forestall a Supreme Court ruling on his eligibility for office. They differ on the mechanics. Another sticking point appears to be over Iftikhar Chaudhry, the deposed chief justice who emerged last year as a bulwark of opposition to Musharraf. A return of Chaudhry and other judges would increase pressure on Musharraf, long a US ally, and could set up a fresh confrontation with the president. Zardari wants to link the judges’ reinstatement to broader judicial reforms that could restrict the chief justice’s tenure. Complex legal and political issues, including the status of the judges Musharraf installed after the purge, have also proved stumbling blocks to a deal. May 12 was the deadline for an agreement but weekend negotiations in London did not produce a deal.
NAWAZ SHARIF, PAK. FORMER PRIME MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Today our central committee meeting was held and continued since afternoon. Our parliamentary party also participated and the decision came out. As you know today, May 12, was the deadline and we’re bound and the deadline is going to end, so our ministers will meet the prime minister tomorrow and will give their resignations from the cabinet.
Asked if his party would still support the government on all matters, Sharif said it would take decisions on an “issue by issue” basis.
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