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No confrontation with anyone: Zardari


Lahore : Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari Monday reiterated that he was not in confrontation with any institution of the state and urged all stakeholders to work together for the good of the country.

Zardari expressed these views while talking to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the Governor House here. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was also present at the meeting, Online news agency reported.

This was the second meeting between both the two leaders in the last three days.

Sources say that a host of issues, including appointments to the higher judiciary were discussed during the meeting.

Zardari has been on the back foot since the Supreme Court last month invalidated an amnesty against graft that had enabled him and his slain wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to return home from self exile.

Some 250 other politicians, bureaucrats and military officers had also benefited from the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) then president Pervez Musharraf had promulgated in October 2007.

With the Supreme Court ordering that all the corruption cases nullified by the NRO be revived, Zardari faces the very real possibility of going to jail, though when this will happen is anyone’s guess.

And, in another indication of things to come, parliament’s constitutional reforms committee last week agreed to transfer the authority of appointing the service chiefs from the head of state to the head of government by amending article 243 of the constitution.

Once that happens, the president will have to consult the prime minister before appointing the chiefs of the army, the navy and the air force.

The decision was taken unanimously by all the major political parties, including the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).

The committee, however, did not discuss the larger question of repealing the 17th amendment of the constitution under which Musharraf had transferred key executive powers from the prime minister’s office to the presidency.

Among these are the powers to appoint the Supreme Court chief justice and to dismiss the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and the provincial assemblies.

Zardari has twice in the past promised the amendment would be repealed but has not set a deadline for this.