* PML-N flip-flop creates deadlock on constitutional reforms
* Demands consensus on reforms package before it is moved in parliament
* PML-N insiders say Nawaz’s sudden move took many within the party by surprise since all issues, except NWFP’s renaming, had been settled
* Proposed joint session of parliament postponed

ISLAMABAD: A day before the proposed 18th Amendment package was all set to be tabled before the parliament for approval, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) took a U-turn that created a virtual deadlock in the country’s politics.

Knowing that the Parliamentary Reforms Committee has included its proposals regarding the appointment of judges and admitting that renaming of the NWFP was not a major issue, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif backtracked at the 11th hour in his press conference on Thursday, demanding that a “consensus” be made before presenting the package in parliament.

When some key members of his own party went on record in admitting that everything was settled and there was no hurdle in placing the package for approval, the sudden change in the stance of the PML-N created confusion in the political circles.

Some observers believe that this turn was at the behest of some quarters and the PML-N chief adhered to “some phone calls” he received just before his press conference.

Inside circles within the PML-N confided to Daily Times that this sudden move took many within the party by surprise since all issues apart from the renaming of the NWFP had been settled by the committee amicably.

Postponed: Minutes after Nawaz’s press conference, representatives of the government announced the postponement of the proposed joint session of parliament where President Asif Ali Zardari was supposed to deliver his 3rd address on the start of the new parliamentary year.

In his press conference, Nawaz denied that any agreement had been reached on the issue of the judges in the committee, and said his party had reservations over the proposed package.
Judges’ appointment: He said the issue of the judges’ appointment and the renaming of the NWFP had not yet been settled with the government, adding that judges should not be appointed on the basis of favouritism but through a transparent mechanism which ensures protection of the judiciary, and input from the government, the opposition and parliament.

A consultative meeting of the PML-N, chaired by Nawaz, was held at the Punjab House to discuss the proposed 18th Amendment bill and the issue of renaming of the NWFP before the press conference.

The PML-N chief demanded the government come up with complete consensus before tabling the amendment package in parliament.

He was of the view that President Zardari should address the joint session of parliament after a complete consensus on amendment package is developed and the differences are removed.

When asked whether his press conference was meant to create hurdles in the scheduled presidential address, Nawaz said his party wanted the president to fulfil his constitutional obligation, but only after getting a complete consensus on the 18th Amendment package.

Source: Daily Times