Pakistan's ruling PPP and opposition PML-N are engaged in a war of words over the sweeping powers wielded by President Asif Ali Zardari, with former premier Nawaz Sharif describing the current dispensation no different from dictatorship.
Sharif, whose PML-N broke away from the PPP-led coalition last year after accusing Zardari of reneging on several promises, fired a fresh salvo by saying that the "present democracy" was no different from dictatorship.
"Nothing has changed after the general election on February 18 (last year). The status quo still exists. The same judges (appointed during former President Pervez Musharraf's tenure) and courts are still there. The system is the same and Pakistan's constitution and laws remain unchanged," he told reporters.
Reacting to Sharif's remarks on Saturday, Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar termed them as "highly exaggerated and harsh criticism" and said Zardari was ready to give up his powers to dissolve Parliament and appoint the three service chiefs.
Babar dismissed the impression that Zardari was no longer interested in implementing the 2006 Charter of Democracy signed by the PPP and PML-N, which envisaged scrapping of the President's sweeping powers included in a constitutional amendment pushed through by Musharraf.
The PML-N on Friday submitted to the PPP a draft of a proposed bill to repeal the President's powers with Sharif saying that the ball is now in the government's court. He brushed aside Zardari's call for evolving consensus on the bill, saying there was no need to do so.