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Shocker: Pakistan Coalition Near Collapse

From a gobsmacked Associated Press:

Pakistani former premier Nawaz Sharif (right) with coalition partner Asif Ali Zardari.

Pakistan’s ruling coalition on verge of collapse

By ASIF SHAHZAD, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s ruling coalition teetered on the brink of collapse as the two main partners squabbled over a successor to ousted President Pervez Musharraf.

Former Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif, who heads the junior partner in the coalition, demanded the dominant Pakistan People’s Party slash the president’s powers before he would support its candidate.

Asif Ali Zardari, head of the PPP and widower of the party’s assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto, agreed Saturday to run for the presidency…

Presidential elections by parliament were set for Sept. 6 and the political infighting is a distraction from militant violence flaring in the volatile northwest, where 37 insurgents were killed Saturday in retaliation for a string of deadly suicide bombings.

Though Zardari is a longtime Musharraf critic, he would likely continue the former general’s support for the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

But Zardari’s climb to power would dismay many in this nation of 160 million who view him as a symbol of corruption that tainted its last experiment with civilian rule in the 1990s.

He won the nickname “Mr. 10 Percent” for alleged graft during his wife’s turns as prime minister.

Despite the backing of the PPP, his election is far from certain.

Sharif, who heads the second-largest party in parliament, was one of Bhutto’s bitter rivals and has been threatening to bolt in a struggle over power.

He demanded after meeting with Zardiri’s lieutenants Saturday that the PPP agree to sharply reduce the powers of the new president before he’d support their candidate.

Sharif wants the head of state to be deprived of the constitutional right to dissolve parliament or to appoint chiefs of the armed forces — but Zardari’s name was thrown into the race without any such guarantee…

The ruling coalition — united primarily in their hatred of Musharraf — dabbled in peace talks with the militants soon after taking power five months ago, something the former president briefly tried as well…

The media and the terrorists have really given the Pakistanis some wonderful choices.

The favorite, Mr. Benazir Bhutto, should at the very least be serving a life sentence for the millions he stole from the country during his previous tenures.

(Something this article miraculously manages to note. Though a detail that was conspicuously absence from all of the reporting about him before Musharraf’s ouster.)

If it weren’t for the war it would be great to see Pakistan get exactly what it deserves. 

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, August 24th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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