No consensus on reinstatement of judges

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Islamabad, Apr 22 (UNI) Top leaders of Pakistan's coalition government today failed to achieve a breakthrough on the issue of reinstatement of deposed judges as they concluded their two-day talks on the matter.

Law Minister Farooq H Naik read out a brief statement on the sidelines of the joint press conference of Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif that a committee of coalition partners will give a final shape to proposals (for reinstatement of judges) in consultations with the legal fraternity.

The two parties formed coalition governments at the Centre and in Punjab province after signing a power-sharing deal at the hill resort of Bhurban and undertaking to restore deposed judges through a parliamentary resolution.

The PPP now wants to form a parliamentary committee to decide about the restoration of judges on case-to-case basis and reduce their service tenure to three years, a move sharply criticised by the lawyers' community.

But the PML(N) insists that judges should be restored as per an understanding through a resolution instead of referring the cases to a parliamentary committee.

Analysts believe that if the tenure of judges was reduced to three years, former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will retire in June after restoration, even though his tenure is to expire in 2013.

''We fully stand by Bhurban declaration and are bound by the timeframe for restoration of judges within 30 days as agreed by the PPP and PML(N),'' Mr Sharif told a joint press conference with Mr Zardari.

President Pervez Musharraf had deposed 60 judges of superior judiciary, including chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in November after they refused to take fresh oath following imposition of emergency in the country.

The PPP co-chairperson said the two parties would ensure implementation of understanding reached between them at Bhurban.

He said there was complete harmony among the coalition partners on all issues including restoration of judges in accordance with the Bhurban accord.

Both the leaders, however, categorically denied that their talks got deadlocked over the issue of restoration and said it would be tabled in the lower house of Parliament very soon followed by introduction of a constitutional package.

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