Lahore, May 1 : Both the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have claimed that they have made substantial progress during their meeting in Dubai on the judges' restoration issue.
Pakistan's Food and Agriculture Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, "A lot of progress has been made. There is consensus on most issues, but there are differences of opinion on some legal and constitutional matters."
"There was an agreement on several points, but some sensitive legal issues remained to be sorted out," he added.
Khan further said that all the aspects of the judges' return issue were discussed. He, however, denied that minus-one formula was debated. He also denied involvement of any third party in the talks.
However, sources said, in case no agreement was reached, PPP Chief Asif Ali Zardari suggested the PML-N to stay neutral, even if it leaves the government, and let the PPP restore the judges its own way.
"After the restoration of the judges, the doors would be open for the PML-N to rejoin the government," Zardari reportedly said.
Information Minister Sherry Rehman was of the view that both a resolution in the National Assembly and an act of parliament were needed for the restoration of the deposed judges.
Meanwhile, the PML-N was of the opinion that the restoration of the deposed judges should only be made through the resolution and the constitutional package might come later after the issuance of executive order based on the resolution.
However, the PPP was of the view if the judges were restored, the strength of judges in the Supreme Court would be 27 while the strength was restricted to 17 according to the law, so first an amendment was needed in the law to increase the strength.
The PPP was also of the view that there were many legal issues that should have been sorted out before the restoration of the judges and there was a need to give it a legal shape. he negotiations achieved a major breakthrough when Zardari agreed to table a resolution for the judges' restoration prior to the tabling of a constitutional package.
The sources were quoted as saying that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif had also shown flexibility in his stance on the tenure of the chief justice and the reduction of his discretionary powers.
Earlier, both the PPP and the PML-N had agreed to keep their coalition intact regardless of the outcome of the talks.
Meanwhile, talking to media persons, Zardari said the PPP and PML-N had already agreed to restore the sacked judges.
The Daily Times, however, quoted Sharif as saying that there were differences between the two parties over the proposed constitutional package. He insisted that restoration of the sacked judges must be delinked' from the package.