Asif Ali Zardari, co-chair of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has appealed to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to return to the ruling coalition - but stuck to his stance on the reinstatement of judges, an issue on which the alliance had split.
In a brief address on state-run PTV hours after Sharif announced on Monday that he was pulling his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) out of the coalition, Zardari apologised to Sharif - "I seek to apologise to Mian Nawaz Sharif saheb. I admit his feelings have been hurt."
However, he maintained that he was opposed to the immediate reinstatement of sacked chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who was among the 16 Supreme Court judges removed by former president Pervez Musharraf when he declared an emergency last November.
"As far as judges' issue is concerned, mian saheb has himself said in his news conference that 10 judges were ready to be reinstated. Let them be reinstated and the reinstatement of the chief justice will also come (eventually)," Zardari maintained, Dawn reported on Tuesday.
Pakistan was plunged into fresh crisis on Monday evening after the PPP and the PML-N ended their six-month honeymoon a week after they forced Musharraf to quit after nearly nine long years in power.
Sharif announced he was pulling the PML-N from the ruling coalition to protest the government's failure to reinstate the Supreme Court bench, as also some 44 other high court judges who had been sacked after the emergency was clamped.
During his TV address, Zardari urged Sharif to rethink his decision to quit, saying: "We are still hopeful that he will accompany us in the democratic journey."
Admitting he had signed "political understandings" with Sharif, Zardari urged the PML-N chief to consider the difficult situation the country was facing after Musharraf's resignation.
"I want to take along Nawaz Sharif as there are immense difficulties ahead. Perhaps I cannot tell the whole truth to the nation (about Musharraf's resignation)," Zardari maintained.