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Not made U-turn on Constitutional reforms package: Sharif

Last Updated: Sunday, March 28, 2010 - 16:28

Lahore: Unfazed by criticism of his step to withdraw support to a landmark Constitutional reforms package, Pakistan`s opposition PML-N chief and former premier Nawaz Sharif has said he had "no regrets" over his decision, even as he insisted he had not made a U-turn on the issue.

"I do not know why people are saying (I have made a U-turn). I have taken no U-turn over the (proposed) amendments," he told a press conference here yesterday, referring to his move`s criticism by major political parties.”

The Constitutional reforms package, aimed at removing changes made to the Constitution by former military rulers Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf, was drawn up by a parliamentary committee comprising representatives of all parties, including the PML-N.

Sharif said he had "no regrets" over the position he had adopted.

"It is not fair to attach the 17th amendment (which gives the President sweeping powers) with other things like renaming North West Frontier Province and appointment of judges," he said.

Sharif had stunned all political parties on Thursday when he announced the PML-N would not back the proposed reforms package due to differences over the procedure for appointing members of the superior judiciary and the renaming of the NWFP.

He announced his stand hours before the parliamentary committee was to sign a report containing its recommendations to remove changes made to the Constitution by Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf.Sharif`s call for the Constitutional reforms package to be delayed also embarrassed the ruling Pakistan People`s Party, which had planned to table the package in Parliament on Friday prior to an address by President Asif Ali Zardari to a joint sitting of the Senate and National Assembly.

The parliamentary committee has said the procedure suggested by it for appointing judges is the same as that in the Charter of Democracy signed by Sharif and slain PPP chief Benazir Bhutto in 2006.

The committee even agreed to changes in a proposed judicial commission for appointing judges after the PML-N said a retired judge of the Supreme Court should be its seventh member.

During his news conference, Sharif said the law minister who was accused of receiving a bribe of Rs 30 million should not be part of the judicial commission.

"The Chief Justice of Pakistan must head the judicial commission and be authorised to appoint its seventh member," he said.

Sharif also tried to play down the issue of renaming the NWFP. "I think some people in the Awami National Party and PML-N are emotional on this issue," he said.

He also rejected media reports suggesting that external pressure had led to the change in the PML-N`s views.

He urged Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to consult Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry to evolve a transparent procedure for appointing judges.

"There should be consensus among the government, opposition and judiciary on this very important issue," he said.


First Published: Sunday, March 28, 2010 - 16:28
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