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Sharif takes on Zardari

Political turmoil Calls for transfer of presidential powers to PM, parliament.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2010 00:54 IST

Pakistan’s main opposition leader Nawaz Sharif reiterated on Monday a call for the transfer of presidential powers to the prime minister and parliament, highlighting an issue that could bring political turmoil in the country.

Sharif called for the full implementation of a Charter of Democracy in talks with Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, a close ally of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Benazir Bhutto and Sharif had in 2006 agreed on the charter aimed at transferring powers back to the PM and restoring a parliamentary system.

“We want the Charter of Democracy to be immediately implemented... the 17th amendment should immediately be repealed,” Sharif said referring to an amendment introduced by former President Gen Musharraf giving the president power to dissolve parliament.

“The parliament should be sovereign and there should be an independent judiciary,” he told reporters with Gilani after their talks in Lahore.

Pakistan is fighting Taliban militants is expected to play a role in efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan, where US forces are spearheading a big offensive against the Taliban. Any sign of instability in Pakistan can unnerve the US and other Western powers embroiled in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Zardari, Bhutto’s widower and leader of her party, has promised to implement the charter and transfer powers back to the PM.

Critics, however, say he is reluctant to turn himself into a ceremonial leader and has been dragging his feet.