Islamabad, Aug 20 : Signs of the four-party coalition government in Islamabad falling apart were witnessed last evening when PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari expressed his unwillingness to restore the deposed Supreme Court chief justice Ifthikhar Chaudhary and proposed the "Minus One" formula, which means restoration of all judges except the sacked CJ.
After the meeting failed to evolve a consensus over the issue, PML-N Nawaz Sharif walked out in a huff and declared that he would move out of the government if the PPP didn't restore all judges, including Ifthikhar Chaudhary, within 72 hours.
"PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari insisted on the minus-one formula - which is, restoration of all sacked judges except Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry," an insider said, adding that representatives of FATA legislators also attended the meeting held at Zardari House.
Information Minister Sherry Rehman said that the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) sought three days for consultations with constitutional experts and for discussion within their own parties, reported the Daily Times.
A source said the deadlock on the issue of judges continued as the PPP and the PML-N stuck to their positions. "The PPP wanted the reinstatement of judges minus-one through a constitutional package but the PML-N insisted that they should be all restored through an executive order within three days as agreed already," the paper quoted him as saying.
According to the PML-N, Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had agreed to impeach Pervez Musharraf and then restore the judiciary within three days of his removal. But, PPP sources said there was no agreement on the specifics. But another insider said the ANP and JUI-F made it clear to the two major coalition partners that they were not party to the Murree Declaration and it was not binding on them to adhere to it. "The ANP and the JUI-F tacitly endorsed the PPP point of view," he said.
Another source privy to the meeting said that Zardari told participants of the meeting that Iftikhar Chaudhry had become political and controversial. But, the PML-N chief reacted sharply to his stance and made it clear that it would not be acceptable to his party. Nawaz also believed the proposed constitutional package would indemnify Musharraf's "unconstitutional steps and was therefore opposed to it".