By Ashraf Mumtaz
LAHORE, March 5: The PPP and the PML-N remain “poles apart” on the issue of reinstatement of the deposed judges of superior courts and ties with President Pervez Musharraf, notwithstanding their resolve to form a coalition, with the Awami National Party as their third partner.
“We are poles apart. The PML-N just wants that all existing judges should be sent home and those deposed on Nov 3 should be reinstated,” said a PPP leader who attended talks between the two sides.
Sources close to Mian Nawaz Sharif and privy to the discussions held by the two sides on Tuesday night said that the PPP team had asked the PML-N to soften its stand on the question of judges and not to make it priority item on its agenda.
“Nothing is common (between the two sides) and nothing is likely to be common,” said the source, indicating that the two sides would continue their deliberations in an attempt to find some common ground for cooperation.
PPP leader Asif Zardari and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif are expected to meet in Islamabad on Friday to discuss matters concerning formation of the government.
The PML-N sources said their party could not afford to change its stance on the deposed judges and President Musharraf.
A PPP leader said that President Musharraf was under no obligation to seek a confidence vote from the new parliament. “There is no such provision in the Constitution. However, if he wants to show his following in the new house there is no harm in taking such an initiative,” the leader said, adding that the PPP was not calling on the president to prove that he enjoyed majority’s support.
“Let the new system take off. We want all matters in accordance with the Constitution. If the president stays non-partisan and doesn’t convert the Presidency into a hub of political conspiracies, we will have no problem working with him.”
Some reports say that the PML-N wants Musharraf to either step down or take confidence vote from the new assemblies.
The PML-Q has not lost hope that it would be able to form a government with the PPP because of the latter’s differences with the PML-N.
PML-Q sources say that knowing well that they were hated by the PPP the Chaudhrys have given Hamid Nasir Chattha a mandate to try to persuade the PPP leaders to agree to forming a coalition with them.
Mr Chattha had been close to Benazir Bhutto when the PPP and the then PML-Junejo were coalition partners during 1993-96.
One source said that Chaudhry Shujaat Husain may step down as party chief to pave the way for Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the PML-Q’s new parliamentary party leader in the National assembly. Once he quits, some other office-bearers may also follow suit.
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