Parliamentarians jokingly refer to it as the baby that was aborted at the last minute given that it took nine months or the committee to come to a conclusion.
But analysts warn that there are serious implications to this week’s about turn by PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif over the much-awaited constitutional reform package that should have been announced this week.
The package would have finalised a number of outstanding political issues including the procedure of the appointment of judges and also the renaming of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, a long standing demand of the Awami National Party.
Moments before the scheduled signing of the amendment bill by the all-party Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, Sharif backtracked from his party’s stance. As a result, on Friday, President Asif Ali Zardari’s address to parliament had to be cancelled.
Sharif later told journalists “I have talked to Prime Minister (Yousuf Raza) Gilani on phone and asked him to consult the chief justice and then decide the mechanism with us.”
This is despite the fact that the procedure for judges appointment was the same as that drafted under the Charter of Democracy signed by Sharif and Benazir Bhutto in May 2006. The reforms committee had even agreed to reconstitute the proposed judicial commission on PML-N’s calls for adding a retired judge of the Supreme Court as its seventh member.
On Friday, almost all political parties rejected the move by Sharif and said that there would be no further discussion on the constitutional reforms.