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Battle lines drawn over ousted Pakistan judges

  • Story Highlights
  • Attorney general says plan to reinstate ousted Pakistan judges is futile
  • Ruling coalition wants judges reinstated within 30 days of new parliament convening
  • President removed judges before they could rule against him standing for third term
  • New coalition is anti-Musharraf; his allies did badly in February election
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's attorney general Monday rejected a plan by opposition lawmakers to reinstate the country's ousted Supreme Court justices within 30 days of parliament's first session.

In an interview with GEO TV, Malik Mohammed Qayyum called the opposition's move a futile attempt and reiterated that President Pervez Musharraf's dismissal of the judges was legal under the constitution.

Musharraf has yet to convene parliament, but has said he will do so within two weeks.

The ousted justices are at the heart of the political crisis that began in Pakistan last year. Musharraf removed nearly all of the Supreme Court bench in November, days before it was set to rule against the legitimacy of his third term in office.

Speaking on Sunday, Asif Ali Zardari, head of the Pakistan People's Party, and Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, said they would restore the justices within 30 days of parliament's first session, which they demanded Musharraf immediately convene.

They spoke at a joint news conference shortly after signing an agreement to make their parties' coalition official.

PPP, the party of assassinated Benazir Bhutto, and PML-N won the majority of seats in Pakistan's February 18 parliamentary election

While they agreed to work with the office of the presidency, their announcement set the stage for a power struggle with Musharraf, whom both parties have described as a dictator.

Zardari -- Bhutto's widower -- and Sharif vowed to uphold the Charter for Democracy, a document signed by the once-rival opposition parties last May.

The document would restore the powers of the prime minister that were stripped away when Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup, including the power to dissolve parliament and appoint military chiefs.

It is unclear if the coalition could actually get its measures through both houses of parliament.

Despite their victory in parliamentary elections last month, a coalition led by Musharraf's party still has a considerable number of seats in the Senate. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN correspondent Reza Sayah and producer Zein Basravi contributed to this report

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