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Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 15:39 UK

'Deal reached' on Pakistan judges

Nawaz Sharif (left) and Asif Zardari speak to reporters in Dubai after holding talks (30 April 2008)
The coalition had pledged to resolve the issue by the end of April

The head of one of Pakistan's ruling coalition partners says a deal has been reached on how to restore judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf.

PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif said talks with the PPP's Asif Zardari had "yielded very positive results".

Mr Sharif said he would give more details on Friday. There has been no word from Mr Zardari.

The new government had promised to restore the senior judges by the end of April but disagreed over how to do it.

Analysts say failure to resolve the differences had put the month-old coalition government under strain.

President Musharraf sacked about 60 judges - some sitting on the Supreme Court - in November 2007, after declaring a state of emergency.

'Fully satisfied'

Speaking to the media from Dubai where the talks were held, Mr Sharif said he was "fully satisfied" by the progress made.

"The judges will be restored through a [parliamentary] resolution," he said.

Judicial reforms sought by Mr Zardari were a "separate issue", he said, adding that he would give further details in Lahore on Friday.

SACKED JUDGES
March 2007: President Musharraf suspends Supreme Court chief justice, triggering protests
6 Oct 2007: President Musharraf wins election
3 Nov 2007: President declares state of emergency and sacks around 60 judges
22 Nov 2007: New Supreme Court upholds Musharraf election win
18 Feb 2008: New coalition government of PPP and PML-N emerge victorious in parliamentary polls
30 April 2008: Deadline set by two parties to reinstate sacked judges

The PPP's Sherry Rehman said there had been progress in the talks, and confirmed that Mr Sharif would make a formal announcement on Friday.

"Judges will be reinstated, the parliament will also pass a resolution and there will also be a constitutional package," she said.

The talks between the two main coalition leaders started at a hotel in Dubai on Wednesday.

Mr Zardari had wanted to link the judges' re-instatement to a broader package of judicial reforms that would apparently curb the powers of the chief justice.

Mr Sharif had insisted that any reform package be worked out later, since restoring the judges had been his condition for joining the coalition.

The judges, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Chaudhry, were sacked after Mr Musharraf declared the state of emergency.

At the time, the Supreme Court was preparing to rule on whether his re-election earlier that year was legal.

They were also due to rule on whether an amnesty the president granted to Mr Zardari and his wife, the assassinated former PM Benazir Bhutto, in a number of corruption cases was legal.


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