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Pakistan Coalition Leaders End Judicial Negotiations Without a Deal

  • VOA News

The leaders of Pakistan's ruling coalition appear likely to miss a Monday deadline for reinstating the country's top judges whom President Pervez Musharraf deposed last year.

Pakistan Muslim League head Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Ali Zardari have been meeting in London since Friday on the judiciary issue. Each met separately Sunday with US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher.

Both sides later said they are returning home without an agreement.

Without such a deal, members of Mr. Sharif's party will be meeting Monday to discuss leaving the coalition government.

Zardari and Sharif have been wrangling for weeks over the deal, which has threatened Pakistan's new coalition government. Last week, the two leaders agreed to restore the judiciary on May 12th through a parliamentary resolution.

Mr. Sharif has called for the judiciary to be restored unconditionally to what it was before last year's six-week state of emergency. But Zardari has insisted on linking the judges' reinstatement to constitutional reforms.

The proposed reforms would limit the power of top judges and revise President Musharraf's current authority to dismiss government officials.

Mr. Musharraf fired the judges last year after they questioned the legitimacy of his re-election as president while serving as Pakistan's top military officer.

The president's attempts to confront the judiciary -- in particular, Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry -- set off a strong opposition movement, culminating in street protests organized by lawyers and judges.

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