The leaders of Pakistan’s ruling coalition were to meet yesterday in Dubai with their one-month alliance on the line amid a deadlock over the reinstatement of sacked judges, party officials said.
Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Dubai on Tuesday for talks with Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari, with a mutual deadline on resolving the dispute set to expire yesterday.
The two sides agreed last month to push through a parliamentary resolution to restore dozens of judges forced out by President Pervez Musharraf in November when he declared a state of emergency.
But their dispute resurfaced when the PPP insisted the reinstatement of the judges, including former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, be done via a constitutional package that would include plans for judicial reforms.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) insists on adhering to the system agreed upon in March and the 30-day time limit for the judges to get back their jobs.
The former prime minister told reporters before leaving for Dubai that he wanted the “coalition to stay together,” but warned of “disastrous consequences for democracy and Pakistan” if the judges were not restored.
Party sources said the two sides had agreed on the text of the resolution, but the PPP was still pressing for constitutional changes.
“In addition to the agreement on the resolution, we have to work out modalities for implementing that resolution in line with the constitutional requirements,” PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
The PPP said Zardari and Sharif were expected to meet around midday in the Gulf emirate, where Zardari — the widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto — is staying with his two children.
Musharraf took the unprecedented decision to depose the judges ahead of a decision by the Supreme Court on whether to overturn his re-election as president.