Deadlock over judges' restoration prevails in Pak as April 30 deadline approaches

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Islamabad, Apr 28 : Even as less than two days are left before the April 30th deadline for restoration of judges expires, the PPP-PML-N coalition government seems to have reached a stage of impasse over its promise to rehire them, amid fears the fledgling coalition might split over the issue.

While the PML-N still sticks to its stand, the PPP leaders appear in a quandary, and are rushing to consult their leader Asif Ali Zardari, who is at his family home in Dubai, despite the crisis that threatens the survival of the nation's two-month-old Government.

Zardari, who is increasingly under fire from many of the PPP's supporters, is seen as the main stumbling block to the reinstatement of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and more than 60 other judges fired by Musharraf when he declared a state of emergency last November.

Restoration of the judges has been the central issue in more than a year of political turmoil in Pakistan, and is seen in all opinion polls and other indicators as an article of faith for the new Government, said an article in The Australian.

It further said that amid the intrigue and political manoeuvres, Musharraf's position appears to be strengthening.

In what was seen as an extraordinary statement made over the weekend, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was imprisoned for five years under the Musharraf regime, said he now had no difficulty in working with the President. "He has been President for eight years. He has willingly doffed his uniform. And he has recently conducted an election, one that has brought pro-democracy forces to power. I don't think we will have any problem from him," Gilani said in a statement that had many PPP supporters furious.

The powerful lawyers' movement, which led the fight against the military dictatorship following Musharraf's first attempt to sack Chaudhry on March 9 last year, was enraged by pictures of a dinner party depicting closeness between Gilani and his government with Musharraf.

Some analysts say Zardari is distrustful of the maverick and interventionist chief justice, and fearful that once back on the bench he might not only rule Musharraf to be an illegal president, but also turn his fire on the amnesty granted to the PPP leader over corruption charges.

ANI

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