Oppn not to support extra constitutional steps of Musharraf:ARD,APDM

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Islamabad, Dec 6 (UNI) The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) have developed consensus that opposition parties would not support extra constitutional steps taken by the Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on November 3, and in this connection the 18th Amendment would be rejected in Parliament.

The meeting of the Joint Committee of the APDM and the ARD was held under the Chairmanship of Leader of the Opposition in Senate Mian Raza Rabbani to formulate Charter of Demand, The Daily Mail reported.

Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Ahsan Iqbal, Senator Prof Khurshid Ahmad, Senator Abdul Rahim Mandokhel, Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Akram Shah, Jan Muhammad Buledi, on behalf of the APDM and Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, Senator Safdar Abbasi, Naveed Malik, Abdul Qadeer Khamosh on behalf of the ARD attended the meeting.

According to the issued statement of Mr Rabbani, the meeting discussed in detail proposals for ensuring fair elections, revocation of extra constitutional action of November 3 and restoration of the Constitution of 1973 as it stood on November 12, 1999.

The Committee approved several proposals at the meeting. However, the participants failed to develop consensus on whether the demand for the restoration of purged independent-minded judges should be added in the Charter of Demand or not.

During the debate, representatives of the Alliances exchanged harsh sentences. The associates of APDM were of the opinion that provision of restoration of sacked judges should be incorporated in Demands, while ARD took stance that the very issue would be negotiated after elections in Parliament.

While replying to a query, the Opposition Leader in Senate told mediapersons that the Committee did not possess the mandate to participate in the coming elections, since its duty was to produce the 'Charter of Demand'.

We are working hard to formulate comprehensively 'Charter of Demand', he added. The meeting was adjourned to meet today, at 4 PM (local time)in order to complete its work under the terms of reference set by the APDM and the ARD leadership.

Pakistan's opposition parties neared agreement yesterday on a list of demands by General (retd) Musharraf in return for calling off a boycott that could spoil the legitimacy of January parliamentary elections, an official said.

The negotiations came as the government prepared to expel two US rights activists who have protested the arrest of Supreme Court justices and leading lawyers since Gen (retd) Musharraf introduced Emergency rule on November 3.

The meeting between representatives of former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif and other smaller parties was crucial to an opposition push to challenge President Musharraf's political dominance.

Ms Bhutto spent the day meeting with foreign Ambassadors, including the US, British and Saudi envoys.

''We have done most of our job but still need more time,'' Senator Khursheed Ahmed, who is on the eight-member opposition committee, said after the talks finished for the night.

''The committee would definitely accomplish this task tomorrow,'' he added. Party leaders have threatened to boycott the vote unless their demands were met.

UNI

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