Sunday, March 9, 2008

Musharraf countdown

Assuming the agreement announced today between the political parties of the late Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif holds, U.S.-backed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will have to resign or forget the trappings of democracy he now favors and seize control of the government again by force. Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, who took over leadership of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party after she was assassinated in December, and Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, agreed today to join forces in parliament and to reinstate the country's Supreme Court. Musharraf deposed the judges and put them under house arrest in November when he imposed emergency rule. The court was widely seen as being on the verge of invalidating Musharraf's candidacy for president in last October's presidential election, in which he won a new 5-year term. But the PPP won the most seats in last month's parliamentary elections and PML-N was second, swamping Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League-M party. "The coalition partners . . . undertake to form a coalition together for a democratic Pakistan," Sharif and Zardari said in the agreement, which was read by Sharif at a news conference Sunday in Bhurban, near Islamabad. Sharif was the prime minister in 1999 when Musharraf, then the leader of the armed forces, seized power in a coup.

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