Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Developments in Pakistan
The collapse of an opposition boycott of Pakistan's parliamentary elections next month does not bode well for the troubled country, considered a vital U.S. ally in the war against terror. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff began campaigning for his party's candidates yesterday after talks with another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, failed to convince her to keep her Pakistan's Peoples Party from participating. Shariff, who recently returned from exile, had advocating boycotting the vote until President Pervez Musharraf lifted the state of emergency he imposed in November and restored the Supreme Court justices he removed. Musharraf, who resigned earlier this month as commander of Pakistan's armed forces, has pledged to lift the state of emergency next week. A coalition of 33 other political groups also had agreed to the boycott, which would have severely undermined the credibility of the ballotting and could have forced Musharraf to step down. Musharraf seized control of the Pakistani government in a 1999 coup, exiled Shariff to Saudi Arabia and placed Bhutto under house arrest.