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Pakistan

Pakistani court orders review of judge appointment change

Reuters/RS Khan

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered parliament to review a constitutional change that would give MPs a say in the appointment of judges. The move’s opponents say it is a threat to the independence of the judiciary, which has challenged current President Asif Ali Zardari and his predecessor Pervez Musharraf.

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The proposal comes as part of a constitutional reform package which includes several restrictions of the president’s powers.

But Pakistan’s High Court told parliament to re-examine the proposal that judges will be appointed by a commission headed by the chief justice but subject to approval by MPs.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

The judgement was read by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was the centre of a long conflict between the legal profession and Musharraf, which contributed to the military ruler’s downfall.

The ruling did not touch on objections which have been raised to other aspects of the amendment. They include a quota of parliamentary seats for women, rules for political parties and changing the name of the North-West Frontier Province to Khyber-Paktunkhwa, which caused protests by ethnic-Hazaras in April.

The Supreme Court is also locked in a standoff with Zardari over the scrapping of an amnesty that protected the president and 8,000 other people from prosecution for corruption.

In the southern port city of Karachi police and paramilitary units are patrolling the streets after more than 70 people have been killed in political violence since Saturday.

And the government Thursday welcomed US President Barack Obama’s promise to visit the country next year. Obama earlier scotched speculation that he would go there when he visits India and east Asia next month.
 

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