The deadlock over the judges opened up cracks in the coalition led by slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) soon after Musharraf, faced with the threat of impeachment, resigned on Monday, Aug 18. Sharif told the newspaper that the sacking of the judges last year had shaken the foundations of the country and it was necessary to restore them to their jobs.
"We will not try to bring the government down," Sharif said in remarks published on Thursday. "But of course we then have no choice but to sit in the opposition."
The PPP led by Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari, has wavered over restoring the judges, partly because of concern the deposed chief justice might take up challenges to an amnesty from graft charges granted to party leaders last year, analysts say.
Leaders of two small parties in the four-party alliance have played down the dispute but said they had been given three days to resolve the problem between the big parties.
Sharif said Zardari had earlier assured him that the judges would be reinstated within 24 hours of Musharraf's impeachment. "We supported him on impeachment. It's now his turn to support us on the reinstatement of judges."