Sunday, February 24, 2008
Pakistan's two main opposition parties, which won 60 percent of the seats in last Monday's parliamentary election, appear poised to form a coalition to challenge U.S.-backed President Pervez Musharraf's shaky hold on power in the nuclear-armed nation. The Pakistan People's Party of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in Rawalpindi in December, won 87 seats in the 268-member National Assembly and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N won 67, giving the opposition a firm grip on power if they can reach an agreement. Sharif was the prime minister in 1999 when Musharraf, then commander of Pakistan's army, seized power in a coup. Musharraf's party, Pakistan Muslim League-Q, won only 40 seats. After the balloting, Sharif called on Musharraf, who left the army in January after imposing a state of emergency and removing justices from the supreme court, to step down. Musharraf has said he is not ready to resign. President Bush called on all sides to work together in the fight against terrorism. The United States has given Pakistan $10 billion in the past 10 years to help its military fight extremists. The election results will not be official until March 1.