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Zardari, Sharif to meet in London

world Updated: May 07, 2008 23:16 IST
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Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, the two top leader of the main partners in Pakistan's ruling coalition, will meet in London to discuss the vexed issue of the restoration of judges after their talks in Dubai last week failed to iron out their differences.

Zardari was to leave for London soon where he would meet Sharif, who is already in Britain where his wife Begum Kulsoom underwent a knee surgery.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) head Sharif held talks for five days in Dubai over the restoration of more than 60 superior court judges who were sacked by President Pervez Musharraf Nov 3 when he imposed emergency in the country.

A committee, formed after the Dubai talks and meant to prepare a mechanism for the restoration of the judges, started its "crucial and decisive meeting" at the Punjab House on Wednesday evening.

The meeting was likely to continue its deliberations till late night to "reach some decision," said a PPP leader who is privy to the talks.

Before going into the meeting, Law Minister Farooq H Naek of PPP said a good decision regarding reinstatement of deposed judges was expected.

He told reporters that negotiations of the committee were moving forward in a constructive manner and all members were playing their due role.

Sharif's younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, who was also participating in the talks, said an earlier resolution of the issue was imperative so that the government could focus its attention to solving other problems inherited from the past regime.

He told the ARY television network that some elements were busy hatching conspiracies against the successful functioning of the coalition government but their efforts would fail.

"We are putting the mechanisms in place to resolve the differences and our opponents would be disappointed," he said.

Apart from Shahbaz Sharif, Petroleum Minister Khawaja Asif, Senior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, advocate Khawaja Haris, barristers Aitzaz Ahsan and Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Senator Raza Rabbani and Interior Affairs Adviser Rehman Malik were attending the meeting.

The members of the committee were appointed with consensus of both the parties. However, senior lawyer and former judge of Supreme Court Fakhruddin G Ebrahim quit the panel after the first meeting.

Another participant of the meeting, requesting anonymity, said there were still differences of opinion regarding restoration of judges and their tenure but hoped these issues would be resolved soon.

The committee member was not sure if they will be able to settle all the issues in the Wednesday meet.

"I am sure we will have some good news for the people but cannot say if we can give final recommendations in today's meeting," he told IANS.

PPP says it wants the restoration of judges through a constitutional package that would include fixing tenure of the chief justice and enhancing their retirement age from 65 to 68 while PML-N wants to restore the judges through a parliamentary resolution.

The PPP and PML-N had been traditional rivals for long but are now together in a coalition government. In March they signed a declaration under which the judges had to be restored before April 30, but the date was extended to May 12 because the two parties could not agree on a framework.