Heads of PML-N, PPP in no hurry to meet

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Islamabad, Aug 1 (UNI) Heads of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) appear to be in no hurry to meet to resolve a crisis in the coalition that has kept the government in limbo.

''Although PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has put PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on notice, telling him that the time has come for 'a final word' and both of them are now in the country, there is no sign of their meeting taking place soon,'' Dawn newspaper reported today.

That neither side is keen to settle what the PML-N describes as the 'make-or-break' issues -- reinstatement of the deposed judges and impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf is evident from the fact that the main aides of the two leaders are vacationing or attending conferences abroad.

A spokesman for the PML-N said the party leadership was waiting for the return of senior office-bearers to the country to convene its Central Working Committee before scheduling a meeting with the PPP leadership.

The spokesman said PML-N leaders Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra were in Europe to spend time with their family, while Ahsan Iqbal had gone to Washington to attend a conference.

He said the leaders were expected to return in the first week of August.

However, he said if Mr Zardari expressed the desire for an early meeting with Mr Sharif it could be held before the return of the senior party leaders from abroad.

Several PPP ministers who had participated in negotiations with the PML-N on the judges' issue had gone to the US with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Federal Minister for Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis Syed Khurshid Shah is in Tehran and Law Minister Farooq H Naek has returned to the country after spending considerable time in London and Dubai.

Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif have been in the country for a couple of days but their parties' spokesmen said their meeting had not been scheduled yet.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters here yesterday, the law minister again invited the deposed judges to take fresh oath.

The move has been criticised by lawyers and the PML-N.

When contacted, the Leader of the House in Senate, PPP's Raza Rabbani, refused to comment on Mr Naek's statement. But when asked if it was feasible to reinstate the judges through a fresh oath, the senator said, 'No'. He was of the view that it was not feasible because it would amount to legitimising the actions taken on November 3 last year by a military dictator.

UNI XC PD AS1543

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