The parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms rejected on Friday a proposal by Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss with the chief justice of Pakistan proposed amendment to the Constitution pertaining to appointment of superior court judges. The 26-member panel recognised the renaming of the NWFP as the only matter pending for incorporation into the draft of the 18th amendment and put off its deliberations till Wednesday after the PML-N sought more time to settle the issue with the Awami National Party. According to sources, the committee decided to take an initiative in this regard if the two parties failed to resolve the issue. The chairman of the committee, Mian Raza Rabbani, expressed his determination to protect the constitutional reforms proposed by representatives of the people. Haji Mohammad Adeel of the ANP likened PML-N’s U-turn to a drone attack on the committee. A majority of members were of the view that although the Supreme Court could interpret the Constitution, the lawmaking and amending the Constitution were the prerogative of parliament. They said involvement of the judiciary or any of its members in the process would be tantamount to breach of parliament’s privilege. Deviating from their earlier stand, PML-N’s representatives proposed in a note of dissent that the chief justice should appoint a retired judge of the Supreme Court as a member of the judicial commission. The committee had earlier agreed that the commission would appoint a retired judge of apex court as its seventh member and proposed an amendment to Article 177 of the Constitution for the purpose. The PML-N chief appeared isolated and even representatives of his party did not challenge the criticism of his sudden change of mind which had disrupted the planned signing of the constitutional document and presentation of the 18th amendment bill in parliament. Only Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi complained about some harsh statements made by ANP leaders, including Haji Adeel. Members from Balochistan and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement expressed resentment over the committee’s failure to propose maximum autonomy for the provinces in accordance with their demands.

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According to the sources, Mr Rabbani talked to the prime minister about Mr Sharif’s proposal and found him non-committal and was told that he would follow the decision of the committee on the matter. They quoted the prime minister as saying there was a possibility that the committee might reject a proposal emerging after his proposed meeting with the chief justice. A brief statement issued by the committee after its 75th meeting said: “The PCCR met today and reinforced its resolve to present its report before both the houses of parliament along with a consensus constitutional (18th amendment) bill. The committee vowed to settle the question of the name of the NWFP through mutual consultation. The committee recalled that in such complex, constitutional and legal matters differences do emerge which are resolved through mutual consultation which is a part of the democratic process. The committee resolved to protect the consensus it has developed, which is a national trust. The next meeting of the committee will be held on March 31.”
By: Dawn News