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Pakistan's Coalition Delays Decision on Judges, New President

  • VOA News
  • Anis Ahmed

Leaders of Pakistan's ruling coalition have ended their first meeting since President Pervez Musharraf's resignation by postponing any decisions about restoring the judiciary.

Minority partners in the coalition government said Tuesday they needed more time to decide what to do next after they had learned of a secret agreement between the two major parties.

Officials did not disclose the contents of the agreement between Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The deal, however, is believed to involve when and how the government would restore judges purged by Mr. Musharraf last year.

Tuesday's talks also centered on selecting Pakistan's new president. Under the country's constitution, the government has 30 days to elect a replacement.

Senate chairman Mohammed Mian Soomro has assumed the role of acting president.

Former Prime Minister Sharif and his PML-N party have been adamant about restoring the judiciary. However, PPP leader Zardari has been more reluctant -- possibly because the justices could take up challenges to a legal amnesty granted to PPP leaders on corruption charges.

Mr. Musharraf said Monday he was resigning to avoid a power struggle with the ruling coalition, which had vowed to impeach him on charges of misconduct and violating the constitution.

Mr. Musharraf did not say if he will stay in Pakistan or go into exile, but Pakistani media reported he may move to the United States, Turkey or Saudi Arabia for security reasons.

U.S. State department spokesman Robert Wood said Tuesday Washington will examine any application for asylum by the former Pakistani leader, but that no such request had been made so far.

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