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Friday, February 29, 2008

Back channel is open

I have not read this in any Paksitani paper yet. The back channel is open it seems. Yesterday there were reports that the GoP has dropped fraud cases against Asif (10%) Zardari interim co-chair of PPP. And today this: read on

Pervez may restore judges


Islamabad, Feb. 28: In a major climbdown, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has sent a message to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Asif Ali Zardari that sacked judges of the higher courts can be reinstated provided they don’t hear cases against him, said an official privy to the developments.

The olive branch to the PPP, which is discussing details of government formation with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has apparently come in the form of a message conveyed through a common friend.

"The presidency is ready to restore the judges provided they don’t sit on benches hearing cases against the President," said the top government official. He said the presidency has also suggested that judges appointed by President Musharraf after 2007 November 3 emergency would be accommodated in the same positions or transferred to government positions usually held by serving judges.

"President Musharraf has also agreed to forego powers of sacking Parliament and appointing services chiefs," the official said, adding that in return he wants an assurance that no impeachment move would be tabled.

On Wednesday, in a rare show of strength, the PPP, PML(N) and the Awami National Party (ANP) and independents challenged President Musharraf to accept his defeat.

The PPP won 88 seats, the PML(N) 66 and the ANP 10 in the elections. Further, 27 independents have expressed their willingness to join the coalition. The Musharraf-backed PML(Quaid) could only win 39 seats. According to the official, Mr Zardari has not directly refused the options given by the presidency but said he would discuss this with his partners, particularly Mr Sharif, who has been saying President Musharraf is not acceptable under any circumstance.

In 1999, President Musharraf as Army chief overthrew Mr Sharif’s elected government and a year later sent him into forced exile to Saudi Arabia. Mr Sharif managed to return in November to lead his party in the national elections held last week. (IANS)


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