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Agreement Announced to Reinstate Deposed Pakistani Judges


The leader of the second largest political party in Pakistan's ruling coalition announced Friday that all the judges President Pervez Musharraf sacked last year will be reinstated on May 12. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told a news conference in his hometown of Lahore that the deposed judges will be restored by passing a resolution in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament.

Mr. Sharif said that the resolution will be introduced in the parliament on May 12 and the judges will be reinstated the same day.

The former Prime Minister made the announcement a day after his Pakistan Muslim League-N concluded crucial talks in Dubai with leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is the biggest political force in the coalition government.

Sharif says the two parties could not meet an earlier deadline set for the judges' return, because of differences on how to do it. Those disputes, he says, have now been settled. There were fears that Pakistan's ruling coalition could split over the judges' issue.

President Pervez Musharraf dismissed some 60 senior judges, including the country's chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, on November 3 when he declared a six-week emergency rule in the country.

Musharraf's action stemmed from fears the Supreme Court was on the verge of challenging his re-election as president of Pakistan in October, while still being the chief of the country's military.

His decision received countrywide opposition led by the lawyers' community, paving the way for anti-Musharraf political parities to win February parliamentary elections.

Analysts say that restoration of the judges will be a major setback for an increasingly unpopular Musharraf and his ability to cling to the presidency.

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