ISLAMABAD: All major political parties are making hectic efforts to end the deadlock created by a sudden change in PML-N chief’s stance on the 18th amendment, although Mian Nawaz Sharif reiterated his demand on Monday for changes in the provision about judicial appointments in the draft prepared by the parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms.
And the issue on which the committee had failed to arrive at a consensus, the renaming of the NWFP, remained unresolved but the government was optimistic about reaching an agreement among all parties in a few days.
ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan told reporters after a meeting with Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, chairman of the committee for constitutional reforms, that the committee’s mandate was to resolve all issues, including the renaming of the NWFP.
Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif held a press conference and again justified the change in his stance and rejected allegations that he had taken a U-turn.
According to sources, the ANP leadership was assured by PML-N leaders in the evening that the issue of NWFP’s new name would be resolved after a meeting of the N-League scheduled for Tuesday.
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani contacted Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour who belongs to ANP and some PML-N leaders to discuss various steps to resolve the contentious issues.
Sources at the Prime Minister’s House said the government was hopeful of reaching an accord on the constitutional package by Wednesday.
According to sources, the chief of ANP’s NWFP chapter, Senator Afrasayab Khattak, led a delegation to the residence of PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to discuss the possibility of getting the constitutional reforms approved by parliament without the support of the PML-N.
PML-Q’s provincial chief Amir Muqam told the ANP delegation that his party would not accept ‘Pakhtunkhwa’ as the new name of the NWFP, but promised to cooperate if Abasin, Khyber or Afghania was added to it.
The PML-Q constituted a five-member committee headed by Mr Muqam to hold talks on the issue.
The entire leadership of the PML-N, including Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, was in Islamabad, apparently anticipating a meeting with top government leaders.
Nawaz Sharif, who also had an off the record interaction with senior journalists, rejected a perception that he had sabotaged the reforms and said he had acted in national interest.
Mr Sharif put all the blame for the discord on Law Minister Babar Awan and said that premature announcement made by him about the package had caused the logjam.
He said it was wrong to assume that a consensus had been reached on the issues of renaming the NWFP and the procedure for appointment of judges.
He said it was better for the committee to deliberate for a few more days rather than letting the issues become contentious in parliament.
Mr Sharif said his party did not trust the PPP leadership which dissolved the PML-N government in Punjab and got him and his brother disqualified by what he called a ‘kangaroo court’.
He also said that he had no regrets over the stand he had taken on the crucial issue.
Mr Sharif blamed the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for the current political chaos and said it was trying to link every issue with repeal of the 17th Amendment.
He said the PPP wanted to include a senior judge of its choice in the judicial commission. “It was unacceptable because three of the seven members were already representatives of the government.”
He described as ‘half-baked’ the constitutional package which was to be tabled in parliament.
He said some matters were still under discussion when the government announced that it would table the document in the National Assembly and that President Asif Ali Zardari would address a joint session of the two houses of parliament before that.
Mr Sharif also called for curtailing the president’s powers in ‘one go’ before moving to other reforms contained in the constitutional package.