PPP, PML-N to form joint committee on constitutional package

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Islamabad, June 4 (UNI) Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have agreed to form a joint committee to examine the PPP's constitutional package, to pave the way for reinstatement of the deposed judges and making Parliament sovereign by clipping the President's powers.

The decision was taken at a three-hour meeting between PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif here yesterday.

According to PPP spokesman Farhatullah Khan Babar, the committee will discuss the draft of the package and the amendment bill will be placed before parliament after the passage of the 2008-2009 budget by the end of the current month.

Dawn newspaper reported today that although the two parties, which formed coalition government in March, had agreed on most of the points of the draft, they were poles apart on the issue of reinstatement of the judges.

Mr Babar claimed that the two sides had discussed issues relating to the budget and the political situation in the country, but the sources said most of the discussion revolved round the issue of reinstatement of the judges.

The PML-N had pulled out its ministers from the cabinet last month after PPP's failure to restore judges, deposed by Musharraf on November 3, 2007, through a parliamentary resolution, as envisaged in the Murree Declaration.

The PML-N wants reinstatement of the judges in accordance with the Murree Declaration through a National Assembly resolution and an executive order of the prime minister.

But the PPP has linked the reinstatement to a constitution amendment bill that would not only empower parliament but also reform the judicial system.

The lawyers have rejected the package which also contains clauses under which the tenure of the chief justice will be fixed at five years.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association have given a call for a long march on the federal capital on June 10 and the PML-N has announced its full support to their movement.

Law Minister Naek handed over copies of the draft of the constitution amendment package to all coalition partners on Saturday and Sunday and sought their recommendations.

Meanwhile, a committee formed by the PML-N to review the draft held its first meeting here late on Tuesday.

PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, who heads the PML side in the committee told reporters after the meeting that the PML-N was firm on its stand that the judges should be reinstated through a resolution and there was no need for a constitutional amendment for the purpose.

UNI XC NC HS1158

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