Bhutto's PPP-Nawaz PML-N: Split wide open

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Islamabad, Aug 29: Time heals tragedies, they say. But this is not proving right for Pakistan's leading political party leaders. Zardari and Nawaz Sharif split early this week shows no sign of healing. The first contact between the Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N established at different levels in the last couple of days resulted in further widening of the split rather than reviving the coalition.

PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif talked on phone for the first time since the latter quit the ruling coalition on August 25 over differences on reinstatement of judges and the unilateral nomination of Asif Zardari as presidential candidate. PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a PPP delegation met the PML-N leader at the Punjab House yesterday.

Dawn newspaper quoted sources as saying that Mr Zardari requested Mr Sharif to withdraw Justice (retd) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui from the race for the presidency and also urged him to return to the coalition.

But Mr Sharif told Mr Zardari "we have come too far and it would not be possible for me to back out of my party's commitment on the judges' issue".

The PML-N chief also turned down Mr Zardari's request to withdraw Mr Siddiqui from the presidential race.

Both PML-N information secretary Ahsan Iqbal and Information Minister Sherry Rehman confirmed that the two leaders had talked by phone, but claimed that the issue of presidential election was not discussed.

They said Mr Sharif thanked the PPP co-chairman for tendering an apology to him in his televised address soon after the announcement that Mr Sharif had quit the ruling coalition.

According to Mr Iqbal, the PML-N chief told Mr Zardari that his party had taken the decision after a detailed deliberation and waited long for the implementation of pledges made by the PPP.

PML(N) has already requested to the prime minister to allocate seats on opposition benches in the National Assembly to its legislators.


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