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Pakistan: PML-N meets to decide on coalition fate

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | August 25, 2008 14:52 IST

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Amidst growing divisions in Pakistan's fragile ruling coalition, former premier Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's top leaders are meeting on Monday to decide on pulling out of the alliance led by the Pakistan People's Party.

The meeting of the PML-N's central working committee, to be chaired by Sharif, is being held in the wake of comments by top party leaders accusing the PPP of not honouring commitments to reinstate judges sacked during last year's emergency by former president Pervez Musharraf [Images].

"There is no need (for the PML-N) to be part of the coalition government if one party is taking decisions unilaterally," PML-N spokesman Siddique-ul-Farooq said.

The PML-N on Sunday boycotted a meeting of a committee that was to draft a parliamentary resolution for restoring the deposed judges after PPP co-chairman refused to commit himself to Sharif's deadline for completing the process by Monday.

Zardari has said that the judges will be reinstated, but that he could not set a timeframe for this.

The PML-N has been angered by Zardari's comments that the PPP's agreements and declarations with the party on restoring the judges could be "altered or modified" to suit the evolving political scenario.

Senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal pointed out that the latest pact between the two parties was signed by Zardari and Sharif before the holy Quran.

The PML-N has also been irked by the PPP's move to nominate Zardari as its candidate for next month's presidential polls without the scrapping of the president's controversial powers to dissolve Parliament and dismiss the prime minister.

The PML-N said it had an agreement with the PPP that said the latter could nominate a presidential candidate only if these powers were repealed through a constitutional amendment.

On Monday morning, when the North West Frontier Province assembly passed a resolution welcoming the nomination of Zardari as the PPP's presidential candidate, the PML-N abstained from voting. The resolution, moved by PPP legislators, was adopted with majority votes.

The PML-Q opposed the resolution while the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and PPP-Sherpao too abstained.

It is widely expected that the meeting of the PML-N's central working committee, which will begin at 3 pm, will decide on the party's withdrawal from the ruling coalition.

Sharif is scheduled to address a news conference at 6 pm, when a clearer picture will emerge.

Sharif also met top PML-N leaders at his residence in Lahore [Images] on Sunday to discuss the future of the coalition and the issue of fielding a candidate in the September 6 presidential election.

Reports have also suggested that former premier Mir Jaffarullah Khan Jamali is spearheading efforts for a patch-up between the PML-N and the opposition PML-Q.

Jamali held separate meetings with Sharif and PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain over the past two days.

PML-Q leaders confirmed the back-channel contacts between the two parties to TV channels and said most PML-Q leaders favoured joining hands with the PML-N, but no final decision had yet been taken.

The PML-Q largely comprises leaders who abandoned Sharif's party when he was deposed as premier by Musharraf in a military coup in 1999.

The PML-N withdrew its nine ministers from the cabinet in May after the PPP-led government failed to meet two deadlines for reinstating the deposed judges.

Since then it has been extending issue-based support to the government.


© Copyright 2008 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.


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