Monday, August 25, 2008


Vilani Peiris

Just one week after the resignation of military strongman Pervez Musharraf as president, Pakistan’s ruling coalition is on the point of breaking down. The Pakistan Muslim League-Narwas (PML-N) of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is threatening to quit the alliance today unless the government reinstates 57 high court judges sacked last year by Musharraf.

However, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) - the largest coalition partner - has given no indication that it will bow to the PML-N’s demands, which also include a reduction in presidential powers and a one-month delay in the choosing of a new president. On Friday, the PPP announced that Asif Al Zardari, the husband of assassinated PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, would be the party’s presidential candidate. The national assembly and four provincial assemblies are due to come together on September 6 to select the next president.

The coalition was formed in March after the PPP and PML-N inflicted a humiliating defeat on Musharraf’s party—the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q)—in national elections in February. As part of the deal, Zardari promised to reinstate the judges within 30 days, but repeatedly stalled on the issue as well as on the removal of Musharraf as president. The government only moved to impeach the president in early August when Sharif threatened to pull out of the coalition. The PML-N had already withdrawn from the cabinet in May.


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