Former Pakistani diplomats rue delay in restoration of judges

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Islamabad, May 19 (UNI) Former Pakistani ambassadors have deplored the ''unwarranted'' delay in the restoration of the deposed judges to their pre-November 3 positions.

''The nation gave a clear verdict in the election held on February 18 against Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf's dictatorship and the unconstitutional steps taken by him on 3 November,'' as statement signed by at least 26 top ex-diplomats said in Islamabad.

M Akram Zaki, former Secretary General, former foreign secretaries Shamshad Ahmed and Riaz H. Khokhar, former Foreign Secretary and Dr. SM Koreshi, Dr. Maqbool Bhatty, Najmul Saqib Khan, Iftikhar Murshed and Gul Haneef were among those who signed the statement.

The new government, comprising Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the two largest parties in the newly-elected National Assembly, committed themselves in the Murree Declaration to restore the judges to the positions existing on November 2 through a parliamentary resolution within 30 days after the formation of the Federal Government.

''It is regrettable that even six weeks after the formation of the Federal Government, it has failed to fulfil the mandate given to it by the electorate and honour the commitment made in the Murree Declaration,'' the statement said.

As declared by the Supreme Court immediately after the declaration of ''emergency,'' the PCO was without any constitutional or legal validity. The dismissal of the judges under the PCO was therefore null and void and no constitutional amendment or other legislative act is required to restore them to the positions they held immediately before the 3 November coup, it added.

''We call upon the Federal Government to take immediately the necessary executive and administrative action in order to enable the deposed judges to return to their posts and resume their functions from which they are being illegally restrained,'' the diplomats said.

They added that the appointments made to the Supreme Court and High Courts after 3 November are not in conformity with the Constitution.

''These appointments are also against the Charter of Democracy signed by former Prime Minsters Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif on 15 May 2006. The proposal to validate these appointments is incompatible with the principle of an independent judiciary and is unacceptable,'' remarked the statement.

UNI XC SZ BD1040

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