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Zardari reaches out to opposition parties

world Updated: Mar 21, 2009 12:52 IST
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In a bid to mend fences with the opposition parties, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has said it was time to "forget the past" and "move on" after he acceded to their demand to restore deposed judges.

The restoration of judges sacked during the 2007 emergency by former President Pervez Musharraf "should be seen as another step in the evolutionary process of strengthening (Pakistan's) institutions," Zardari said addressing a farewell dinner he hosted for outgoing Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar last night.

"It is time to look forward and build on what has been achieved. It is time to forget the past. It is time to move on," he told the gathering that included Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, federal ministers, apex court judges, parliamentarians and the three service chiefs.

The PPP-led government earlier this week reinstated the sacked judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry who will resume duties from tomorrow, after main opposition PML-N of former Premier Nawaz Sharif joined hands with other parties and lawyers' movement demanding restoration of the justices.

Zardari's critics have said he was not enthusiastic about restoring Chaudhry as he feared the top judge could scrap a law passed by Musharraf to drop graft cases against PPP leaders.

The President said Pakistan's state institutions had repeatedly received "blows from interventions". However, they had bounced back and emerged stronger after every blow, he said.

"It has been our vision that the institutions should grow and gain strength through evolution and continuity," he said. "Our vision may not have been shared by all. Some were even critical. This is the price leaders have to pay," he said.

Zardari also said he appeared before judges in courts in the past and "will continue to bow before the lordships no matter what is (my) station in life".