Pakistan's political roller coaster continues. Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has declared finally that the judges sacked after President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency last year would be reinstated. Smile, they’re on TV
The issue had threatened to split the ruling coalition. Zardari initially agreed to their reinstatement as part of a constitutional package to be introduced in parliament and then backed off.
This prompted the Pakistan Muslim League led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the other major partner in the alliance, to pull out its ministers out of the government.
On Friday, Zardari declared that the reinstatement of the Supreme Court and High Court judges, including sacked chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, would be part of a 62-point constitutional package to be introduced in parliament ahead of the presentation of the budget in the first week of June.
Nawaz's PML-N, which remains a part of the ruling coalition, did not comment on the development.
Zardari's comments came at the concluding session of a roundtable on "Media freedom, laws and security" organised by the South Asian Free Media Association and the Media Commission-Pakistan.
Zardari said he was committed to the 1973 constitution that he pointed out had been eroded over time by successive amendments.
"We have done more for democracy than anybody else and fought battles for it. We are the people who suffered," The News on Saturday quoted him as saying.
Also on Friday, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani endorsed, in principle, the constitutional package that would now be discussed by the PPP's Central Executive Committee.
This followed a three-hour meeting between Gillani and Zardari at the Prime Minister House where Law Minister Farooq H Naek, who drafted the package, briefed both the leaders on its salient features.
Information Minister Sherry Rehman and adviser to the prime minister, Rehman Malik, were also present at the meeting.
"The constitutional package is aimed at correcting the imbalance of power between the president and parliament as well as strengthening the judiciary as an institution and blocking the way for any adventurer to undermine it in the future, besides ensuring the supremacy of parliament," The News said.