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Pakistani Party Quitting Coalition Government

  • VOA News

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says his party is withdrawing from the federal Cabinet because the two leading parties have failed to reach agreement on re-instating deposed judges.

Mr. Sharif said on Monday that members of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz will resign their Cabinet posts in the six-week-old government -- but he also promised his party will not join the opposition.

Mr. Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan People's Party, held talks but could not agree on the terms for re-instating judges dismissed by President Pervez Musharraf last year. The two leaders had previously vowed to restore the judiciary by May 12th through a parliamentary resolution.

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.

Also today, the Commonwealth announced it will lift its suspension on Pakistan's membership, which was imposed last year after President Musharraf declared emergency rule. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision, saying it looks forward to working with the organization.

The Commonwealth is a group of 53 nations, most of them former British colonies.

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