Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: With President Pervez Musharraf’s exit, there is expectation that the long-running saga of dismissed judges should end soon.

A “joint communiqué” by the ruling coalition partners announcing their decision to impeach the retired General Musharraf this month said the judges, sacked during the November 2007 emergency, would be reinstated “after” the impeachment.

Pressure on PPP

Now that President Musharraf has resigned, the pressure is once again on the Pakistan People’s Party to act quickly to reinstate the judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary.

The Pakistan Muslim League (N), which took up the issue of the judges, backing the lawyers’ movement to the point where it was threatening to break the coalition at one stage, is certain to push for their reinstatement as quickly as possible.

But analysts doubt whether the PPP is overly enthusiastic about the issue, and believe that the party may prefer to act more cautiously on it.

PPP spokesperson Farahnaz Ispahani told journalists that her party was “fully committed” to restoring the judges, and that they “will be back in days, if not weeks.”

Significantly, not once in his speech on Monday did Gen. Musharraf refer to the sacking of Justice Chaudhary, the one issue that can be said to have contributed more than anything else to his downfall.

Marathon meeting

Leaders of the four-party coalition — the PPP, the PML(N), the Awami National Party and the Jamaiat-e-Ulema Islami — held a marathon meeting, after Gen. Musharraf’s announcement of his resignation, presumably to finalise the name of his successor and to discuss the reinstatement of the judges.

Both these are seen as thorny issues for the coalition, which the parties must surmount if they are to exist as an alliance.

Choice of President

As per the Constitution, Senate Chairman Mohammed Mian Soomro has taken over as the acting President. Several names have been doing the rounds for President. There have been suggestions in the media that the new President be chosen from the aggrieved Balochistan province.

It was thought that PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari would be interested, but in an interview earlier this week, he ruled himself out and said the next President might even be a woman.

It immediately set off speculation that he had in mind his sister, Feryal Talpur, a politician with a long-standing experience and who is a member of the National Assembly.

The coalition leaders are set to have another meeting on Tuesday.