Pak's combined opposition divided over judges' issue

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Islamabad, Dec 7 (UNI) A joint committee of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and the All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) has finalised a 15-point charter of demands, but failed to reach a consensus on the reinstatement of the deposed judges.

The combined opposition was also undecided about setting a deadline for the government to meet the demands.

The Dawn newspaper quoted committee member and opposition leader in the Senate, Raza Rabbani, as saying that they had prepared a 15-point charter of demands and there was a complete unanimity on 13 of them.

He said the committee members had not been able to reach consensus on two issues, including the reinstatement of judges.

However, Mr Rabbani did not disclose the second issue.

But it was learnt that the committee members had differences on the issue of giving a timeframe to the government for acceptance of their demands before taking a final decision on boycotting the elections or otherwise.

Mr Rabbani said the committee had decided to leave the contentious issues to be decided by the leadership of the ARD and the APDM.

The ARD mainly comprises of Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan Peoples Party of former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto respectively, while the APDM has in its folds all religious, political and nationalist parties except the PPP.

The APDM members wanted to include the demand for the reinstatement of sacked judges on top of the charter, while the ARD members did not want to press for it.

The two sides tried to find a middle way during their three-day meetings, but failed to do so after their top leadership told them not to show any flexibility on the judges issue.

Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif had agreed on Monday that their decision about taking part in the polls or otherwise would depend on President Pervez Musharraf's response to their charter of demands for ensuring free and fair elections.

Briefing the media after their meeting, the PPP and PML (N) leaders had announced the formation of an eight-member committee to prepare a draft of the charter to be presented to the government.


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