Monday, August 25, 2008

Pakistan's Coalition Government Has Collapsed

Pakistan's fragile coalition government has collapsed as ex-prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pulled his party, The Pakistan Muslim League-N(PML-N) out of the five-month-old coalition government with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP)less thanone week after ex-president Pervez Musharraf resigned. At a news conference Sharif cited 'broken promises' by Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the PPP and its candidate for Musharraf's old spot as the president.

"We have been forced to leave the coalition," Sharif said . "We joined the coalition with full sincerity for the restoration of democracy. Unfortunately all the promises were not honored."

The promises Sharif is talking about involve a disagreement over restoring 60 judges to the bench that Musharraf fired, including ex-chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Sharif released to the press an accord signed by he and Zardari back on August 7th, back when they were maneuvering to get Musharraf out of office.Not only did Zardari agree to reinstate judges, including Chaudhry, but he also agreed that he and Sharif would agree on a presidential candidate.

Instead, the PPP stalled on the judges - a political crony of Zardari now holods Chaudhry's office, and the PPP wants to pick and choose which judges get reinstated and which don't. And according to Sharif, Zardari went ahead to run for the presidency and arranged for the election to be held on September 6 without consulting him.

There's always been little love lost anyway between the Pakistan Peoples Party, which could best be described as Leftist/Kleptocrat and the Pakistan Muslim League-N, which is a conservative Islamist party.Aside from the issues inherent in that odd pairing,there are personal issues between Sharif and Zardari,Benazhir Bhutto's widow.The only thing both sides agreed on was Musharraf's ouster...and I have a feeling that a lot of people in Pakistan, watching what's going on currently may be having second thoughts about the jubilation they expressed when he resigned.

This probably not going to result in new elections. The PPP can probably make enough deals with the smaller parties to stay in power, and get Zardari into the president's spot.

It remains to be seen what Sharif and the PML-N will do. They can stay in the least until Zardari becomes president, when I wouldn't be surprised to see the old corruption charges leveled against Sharif to force him back into exile.

Or they can seek an alliance with the even more Islamist elements in Pakistan, which wouldn't surprise me in the least.

This situation is not likely to calm down in the least, and I smell another Iran in the making.

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