Islamabad, April 16 (IANS) Holding that a ‘precedent’ was being set, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said Thursday his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would not join the government but would support it from the opposition benches.
‘We are setting the first-ever precedent from Opposition side to support the government,’ APP news agency quoted him as telling reporters after a meeting of the party’s Central Working Committee (CWC) here.
‘No party can handle the (current tumultuous) situation single-handedly and our cooperation will remain with the government to get Pakistan out of the present crisis,’ Sharif maintained.
He also wanted the government to complete its tenure.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has on two occasions during the past one month invited the PML-N to return to the cabinet, which it walked out of last year.
Observers here viewed the PML-N’s decision to do so as Sharif’s method of giving himself greater room for political manoeuvering.
For instance, he came up with a new demand Thursday: that all judicial appointments be made by parliament and not by the executive.
Hitherto, Sharif had been demanding the repeal of the controversial 17th constitutional amendment that transferred executive key powers – including that of appointing the Supreme Court chief justice – from the prime minister’s office to the presidency.
Now that this has been agreed to and a parliamentary committee is being formed to work out the modalities of the repeal, Sharif went one step further.
‘After public scrutiny, the proposed names should be discussed in parliament for the final appointment,’ he said at his press conference.
‘We do not want to adopt the previous example of appointments of ill-reputed judges in the courts,’ Sharif added for good measure.
The repeal of the amendment was one of the two key issues on which the PML-N had walked out of the coalition headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party after President Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP co-chair, reneged on the Charter of Democracy governance agenda the two parties had agreed on in October 2007.
The other was the reinstatement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and the other apex and high court judges then president Pervez Musharraf had sacked after declaring an emergency Nov 3, 2007.
The judges were restored last month after Sharif led a high-voltage lawyers’ ‘long march’ to Islamabad and Zardari caved in after being virtually read the riot act by Gilani and Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
At his press conference, Sharif also demanded Musharraf’s trial, holding him responsible for violence, militancy and the deteriorating law and order situation in the country.
‘The people of Pakistan strongly want the trial of the former president, who imposed martial law and is responsible for spreading militancy across the country,’ Sharif contended.
Musharraf, as Pakistan’s army chief, had overthrown Sharif’s elected government in a bloodless coup in October 1999 and sent him into exile in Saudi Arabia a year later. Sharif had returned to the country in dramatic circumstances in November 2007.