ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) – Pakistan’s former prime minister warned Saturday against dissolving the newly elected parliament and called for the restoration of judges fired by President Pervez Musharraf.
“Whoever dissolves the Parliament, his hands should be broken,” Nawaz Sharif told a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.
Although Sharif did not name anyone, his words appeared aimed at Musharraf, who seized power in the 1999 coup by sacking Sharif’s government.
Musharraf later exiled Sharif to Saudi Arabia, and the former premier returned home in 2007. Sharif’s party defeated the political allies of Musharraf in the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections.
Sharif now heads the second-largest party in the new coalition government that is led by the party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December.
The coalition has vowed to curb Musharraf’s powers as president.
The two main coalition parties have also vowed to restore the chief justice of Pakistan and dozens of other judges who were replaced by Musharraf late last year after declaring a state of emergency.
However, they have yet to decide how to achieve the goal. The leaders of both parties this week denied any rifts over plans to reinstate the judges.
On Saturday, Sharif said the judges should be restored before April 30, which he said was a deadline the parties set after he signed an accord with Bhutto’s party before joining the coalition government.
Bhutto’s ruling Pakistan People’s Party is headed by her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, who was expected to hold another meeting with Sharif soon to resolve differences over the restoration of the judges.
Sharif’s comments came a day after his top aide Javed Hashmi warned that ministers from their party would quit the Cabinet if the government did not restore the judges. However, he said his party would remain an ally of the government.
Sharif said he still wanted the government to complete its five-year term. “I pray for the success of the coalition government,” he said, adding that his party also wanted to see an end to the interference of the army in politics. “We want the accountability of those who abrogated the constitution, violated the law and dissolved the parliament,” he said in reference to Musharraf, who Sharif says should resign to avoid impeachment.
Although Sharif has repeatedly called for Musharraf to step down, Bhutto’s party has avoided such a tough stand and indicated it can work with him.
Sharif also accused Musharraf and his aides of conspiring against the coalition government, but said no such conspiracy would succeed. He said the people had “rejected dictatorship.”