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Pakistan's Ruling Coalition Shaken by Failure to Agree on Judges


Representatives of Pakistan's ruling coalition government have failed to agree on a plan for reinstating judges deposed by President Pervez Musharraf, last year. Following the collapse of talks in London, Sunday, party leaders are meeting in Islamabad to discuss the coalition's fate. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Pakistan's capital.

The process of reinstating senior judges sacked by President Musharraf, last November, has been the top issue for Pakistan's ruling coalition and the subject of numerous talks in recent months.

Following the latest round of negotiations in London, Sunday, Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif said, despite "sincere efforts," the parties were unable to resolve the deadlock before Monday's self-imposed deadline for an accord.

The main disagreement is over which supreme court justices to empower. Sharif's party wants to restore the deposed justices and have them decide whether to retain those justices appointed by Mr. Musharraf under the provisional constitution. The Pakistan People's Party argues Mr. Musharraf's appointed judges, also called PCO judges, should remain in power.

Aitzaz Ahsan is a leader of the lawyer's movement which has long demanded the deposed judges be reinstated, as soon as possible. During a protest in Islamabad, Monday, he said he is unhappy with the passing of Monday's deadline.

"We strongly condemn the fact that the judges have not been reinstated
and we will oppose forces trying to keep the PCO judges in place," he said.

Members of Sharif's party have threatened to abandon the coalition government, if the judges were not reinstated by Monday. Other members say the party could abandon its seats in the cabinet, but continue to support the government, led by the Pakistan People's Party.

The PML-N party is expected to announce its decision later Monday.

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