Friday, October 05, 2007

Musharraf and Bhutto Reach Agreement on Sharing Power

Pakistan may have averted a political crisis as Former PM Benazir Bhutto agreed to participate in a power-sharing agreement with Gen. Musharraf. This would stave off difficulties with religious parties and was strongly encouraged by Washington.
The agreement, announced by the Pakistani government and Ms. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, provides an amnesty for politicians who served in Pakistan between 1988 and 1999, effectively clearing Ms. Bhutto of the corruption charges that forced her into exile eight years ago.

The deal takes some of the pressure off Gen. Musharraf ahead of a presidential election scheduled for Saturday, a vote that Ms. Bhutto had earlier threatened to rob of credibility by pulling her MPs from parliament.

It came after a day of frantic negotiations in Islamabad and in London, where Ms. Bhutto, a two-time former prime minister, held talks with key members of her party...
Benazir Bhutto has given her assent," said Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, a confidant of Gen. Musharraf.

Although Gen. Musharraf was closer to gaining an ally, it was unclear yesterday whether the presidential election in the two national houses of parliament and four provincial assemblies will go ahead as planned, as the Supreme Court is hearing fresh challenges to the President seeking re-election while still head of the army.

The court is expected to rule today on whether to order the postponement of a vote that Gen. Musharraf, who came to power in a coup eight years ago, looks sure to win even without Ms. Bhutto's support. He will, however, benefit from Ms. Bhutto's backing ahead of a general election due in January.

Gen. Musharraf 's coalition is expected to fare badly because of anger over rising prices, mounting insecurity and resentment over military rule and an alliance with the United States.

For a short refresher on Pakistan's importance as a key ally of Washington, read this PINR Intelligence Report.

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