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Pakistan Coalition Leaders Fail to Reach Agreement on Reinstating Fired Judges


The leaders of Pakistan's ruling coalition have again failed to reach agreement on reinstating the country's top judges who were deposed by President Pervez Musharraf last year.

The head of the Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz Sharif, met Friday in London with the leader of the Pakistan People's Party, Asif Ali Zardari, for several hours of talks. Sharif said afterwards that the two leaders still differ on key details and were not able to reach a deal.

Zardari and Sharif have been wrangling for weeks over the deal, which has threatened Pakistan's new coalition government.

Last week, the two leaders agreed to restore the judiciary on May 12 through a parliamentary resolution. But Friday, Pakistan's Law Minister, Farooq Naek, said the two were not likely to reach an agreement by that date.

Mr. Sharif has called for the judiciary to be restored unconditionally to what it was before last year's six-week state of emergency. But Zardari has insisted on linking the judges' reinstatement to constitutional reforms.

The proposed reforms would limit the power of top judges and revise President Musharraf's current authority to dismiss government officials.

Mr. Musharraf fired the judges last year after they questioned the legitimacy of his re-election as president while serving as Pakistan's top military officer.

The president's attempts to confront the judiciary - in particular, Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry - set off a strong opposition movement, culminating in street protests organized by lawyers and judges.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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