After last week’s delay, Pakistan inched closer to returning to the 1973 Constitution on Wednesday night with the Committee on Constitutional Reforms (CCR) ironing out the rough spots to finalise the draft of the 18th Amendment that seeks to introduce as many as 95 changes to the Constitution.

The impasse over renaming the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and appointment of judges was broken at a meeting of the CCR which began late in the evening. This was the second sitting of the CCR during the day and it began with the hope of settling the contentious issues.

Though there was no official word from the Committee on the new name for NWFP, sources said it would be renamed Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa in deference to the sentiments voiced by the three parties who had dug in their heels on the rechristening.

While the Awami National Party had been pitching for Pukhtoonkhwa, the Pakistan Muslim League – both the Nawaz group and the Quaid-e-Azam group – were against NWFP being identified solely with the Pushto speaking section of the population. The PML(Q) is understood to still have reservations about the new hyphenated name.

In the case of judicial appointments, the CCR has gone along with the PML (N) demand that the commission to appoint judges should be a seven-member group with the seventh person being a representative of the judiciary appointed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The draft will now be presented to the National Assembly after which the Government is expected to move the 18th Amendment that also seeks to do away with the 17th Amendment brought in by former President Pervez Musharraf. Through the 17th Amendment, Gen. Musharraf had brought back Article 58 (2) (b) – a Zia-ul Haq legacy – under which the President can dissolve the National Assembly at will.

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