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Have not made any U-turn on constitutional reforms: Sharif

world Updated: Mar 27, 2010 21:46 IST
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Opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said he had "no regrets" over his decision to withdraw support for a landmark constitutional reforms package though his stand has been strongly criticised by Pakistan's major political parties.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, the former premier made it clear that he had not made a u-turn on the issue of backing the reforms package drawn up by a parliamentary committee comprising representatives of all parties, including the PML-N.

He said he had "no regrets" over the position he had adopted. "I do not know why people are saying (I have made a u-turn). I have taken no u-turn over the (proposed) amendments.

"It is not fair to attach the 17th amendment (which gives the President sweeping powers) with other things like renaming the North West Frontier Province and appointment of judges," he said.

Sharif had stunned all political parties on Thursday when he announced the PML-N would not back the proposed reforms package due to differences over the procedure for appointing members of the superior judiciary and the renaming of the NWFP.

He announced his stand hours before the parliamentary committee was to sign a report containing its recommendations to remove changes made to the constitution by former military rulers Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf. Sharif's call for the constitutional reforms package to be delayed also embarrassed the ruling Pakistan People's Party, which had planned to table the package in parliament yesterday prior to an address by President Asif Ali Zardari to a joint sitting of the Senate and National Assembly. The parliamentary committee has said the procedure suggested by it for appointing judges is the same as that in the Charter of Democracy signed by Sharif and slain PPP chief Benazir Bhutto in 2006.

The committee even agreed to changes in a proposed judicial commission for appointing judges after the PML-N said a retired judge of the Supreme Court should be its seventh member.

During his news conference, Sharif said the law minister who was accused of receiving a bribe of Rs 30 million should not be part of the judicial commission.

"The Chief Justice of Pakistan must head the judicial commission and be authorised to appoint its seventh member," he said.