Pakistan’s two major political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) have formally agreed to form a government at the Centre as well as three provinces and have vowed to reinstate judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf within one month of formation of their government.
Addressing a news conference at the hill station of Murree, PPP chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N president Nawaz Sharif announced the signing of a joint declaration between the two parties under which they would be coalition partners not only at the Centre but in Punjab province as well.
Calling it the “Murree declaration”, Zardari said the nominee of the PPP for the post of Prime Minister would be fully supported by the coalition parties. “The PM would carry forward the agenda of both the parties," added Sharif.
While Sharif was flanked by party leader and younger brother, Shahbaz, who is tipped to be the next CM of Punjab, Zardari was flanked by Raza Rabbani, a senator from Karachi. Missing conspicuously was Makhdoom Amin Fahim, tipped to be the party’s PM candidate earlier. Zardari said Fahim had some “pressing engagements” because of which he could not make it.
Under the agreement, the speaker and deputy speaker of parliament would be from the PPP while the Punjab Assembly’s speaker will be from the PML-N. Sharif also said the PML-N would be part of the federal cabinet but the PM would be from the PPP. The leaders said the joint declaration demanded that the Assembly be convened immediately. Zardari said the world “should support Pakistan’s chance at democracy”. He said the new government’s first priority would be to fight poverty and unemployment. Both Sharif and Zardari were in a light-hearted mood and cracked many jokes. At one point, Sharif said: “The general...whose name I can’t remember... yes, General Musharraf.”
Sharif said he supported moves to bring a democratic set up to Pakistan. “We are looking for a leader who knows what is best for the country. Whose agenda is clear. Who is not wired. Who knows what is best for Pakistan,” he said. Zardari said he had offered Sharif the PM’s post,but he declined.
Lawyers clash with cops
In Islamabad, hundreds of lawyers and political activists fought tear gas and battles with policemen outside Judges Colony. The lawyers, led by Supreme Court Bar Association president Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, had come to meet deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who was dismissed exactly a year back. They were stopped by policemen. Matters got worse when one group tried entering the colony through a side road. Many dismissed judges are kept under house arrest at this colony.