Saturday, April 12, 2008

Strains Show in New Pakistani Government

After only a week in power, Pakistan's new ruling coalition is showing some strains.

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's joined forces with the party of another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif in a ruling coalition - a union that many thought meant the end of current President Pervez Musharraf. But now the PPP may compromise with Musharraf on a deal to bring back the country's supreme court, a move that is angering their coalition partner.

All of this goes back to last year when Musharraf's rule was legally challenged in Pakistan's supreme court. But before the court could rule, Musharraf declared a national state of emergency - supposedly in response to domestic terror threats - and dismissed the court's justices, replacing them with his own appointees that were sympathetic to his point of view. This crisis led to Bhutto's return to Pakistan, which ultimately resulted in her assassination. That event galvanized average Pakistanis’ opposition to Musharraf's rule and gave the opposition a victory in the subsequent elections.

Follow all that?

When the PPP/Sharif coalition took power, one of their promises was to restore the Supreme Court. But the two parties can't decide on how to do that. Sharif's party wants to restore the fired justices immediately, while the PPP wants to bring the justices back as part of a broad judicial reform package.

If the two sides can't come to an agreement, then Pervez Musharraf may still keep his hold on the presidency.
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