(CNN) -- The junior partner in Pakistan's fragile coalition quit the government Tuesday, saying it has not delivered on a promise to restore judges that President Pervez Musharraf fired.
The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said its ministers submitted their resignations Tuesday.
The coalition had promised to reinstate the judges within 30 days of taking office.
But the PML-N continues to disagree with the biggest party in the coalition -- the Pakistan People's Party -- over exactly how the judges would return to their benches.
"That was our commitment to the nation," Iqbal Zaffar Jhagra, PML-N secretary general, told CNN. "Since things could not be finalized according to what we had promised the nation, we then offered to keep our support to the ruling party but to pull out from the ministries."
The party will continue to work with the government on an "issue-by-issue" basis, Jhagra said. "In the larger interest of the nation and for the continuity of the democratic process we will continue to support the government," he said.
Analysts say the move -- coming just six weeks after the two parties formed a coalition government -- highlights how tenuous the pairing is.
If the coalition cracks further, some analysts say, it could grant a new lease on life for lame-duck President Musharraf, whose party was dealt a resounding blow in February's landmark elections.
The resignations will create nine openings in the 24-member cabinet. The PPP said they will leave the posts vacant for now while they continue talks with Sharif's party.
"They have taken the decision in line with the pledge to step aside if the judges' issue is not resolved on time," said PPP spokeswoman Sherry Rehman in a news release. "The PPP is very clear that the course of dialogue will be pursued to resolve the issue amicably."
Both sides, analysts say, have their own reasons to rush or delay the decision to restore the judges.
Last November, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and fired some 60 judges, including 14 of 18 who sat on the Supreme Court.
Some claimed Musharraf sacked the judges because they were set to rule against the legitimacy of his third term in office. A month earlier, he had been re-elected president by a parliament stacked with his supporters, they said.
Sharif has publicly said he wants Musharraf impeached -- and he wants the judges back on the bench. It was one of his central election promises and conditions for joining the coalition.
He believes a simple resolution followed by an executive order would be enough, his party said.
There is no love lost between the two men: Musharraf deposed Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999.
But the PPP -- now led by Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari -- wanted certain constitutional changes to go along with the resolution.
That would take longer.
One reason behind the delay, some experts say, may be because the Supreme Court was also expected to look into a controversial amnesty for Bhutto and Zardari for corruption charges.
"This whole thing is very much motivated by his feeling that it could reactivate the entire case," said Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, a political analyst.
Last year, Musharraf signed an amnesty that cleared Bhutto from prosecution after she returned home to campaign. She had been in an eight-year self-imposed exile after being convicted on money-laundering charges.
At the time, other opposition leaders criticized Musharraf's move and alleged that Bhutto's party had worked out a backdoor power-sharing deal.
While that may or may not be the case, Zardari -- by delaying the judicial reinstatement -- is squandering the vote of confidence the Pakistani people handed to his party in the February elections, Masood said.
"Instead of aligning himself with the positive forces in the country that genuinely want change, he seems to be saying that he believes in the status quo with minor changes rather than what the people want," Masood said.
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