Pakistan Coalition government under pressure over Zardari Presidency
Cracked have surfaced in the ruling Pakistani establishment after Asif Zardari, widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has thrown his hat into Presidential race.
Asif Zardari has been a controversial figure during his wife's tenure as Pakistani Prime minister. With mounted corruption charges he was popularly called as "Mr. Ten Percentage". He spent more than a decade in prison on murder and corruption charges and got out of prison under an alleged deal. Swiss authorities are still following up a money-laundering case against him.
From the inception, the coalition formed after the assasination of Benazir Bhutto, looked a marriage of convenience for both parties. They couldn't have fought the muscles of Mushraff separately but Zardari never kept his promise of reinstating judges as demanded by Nawaz Sharif other leader in the coalition.
Asif Zardari has announced his candidature without consulting Nawaz Sharif, leader of the other major party in the coalition and it has made him is furious. He has been demanding reinstatement of the judges sacked by Musharraf last November from the start of coalition.He has already threatened to leave the government many times.
It is difficult to say whether the last rites of the PPP-PML-N were first read out at Mian Nawaz Sharif’s Raiwind farm or at the Zardari House in Islamabad. One thing, however, is abundantly clear: the seven-month alliance between the country’s most powerful political parties ended on Saturday. The announcement of the premature death may well be a mere formality.
Although the PML-N’s inflexibility is also to blame, most observers believe that the PPP’s failure to honour verbal and written commitments regarding the judges’ issue was what was largely responsible for the break-up.
The air in Islamabad was already tense. That has escalated since Saturday, mainly after Nawaz Sharif brought his deadline for the restoration of the judges forward to Monday and, ignoring his demand, the PPP leadership formally announced Asif Zardari’s candidature for the presidential elections. And, if the statements of some of the senior PML-N leaders are any indication, the two sides are headed for a gloves-off showdown soon after they part ways.
But does this mean that it was an unnatural alliance to begin with, and that there was never anything in common between the two parties and their leaders? And, more importantly, have the two sides learnt nothing from the country’s recent history? The relationship was certainly never expected to be ideal, given the past enmity between the two leaderships. Nevertheless, many thought that they had learned their lessons and would perhaps not allow the alliance to fall apart -- at least, so soon -- given the way it all started out, with Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari initially going out of their way to accommodate each other’s views and desires. Perhaps, it was thought, Benazir Bhutto’s assassination also provided the much-needed healing touch that compelled the two leaders to create an accommodative atmosphere.
Within weeks of the formation of the new government, however, it started to become obvious that all was not hunky-dory in terms of this alliance. On paper, it continued to appear a formidable combination. But it soon dawned on most people that beneath the smiles remained buried the same deep suspicions about each other’s intentions that the two leaders had always had.
If the issue of the judges’ restoration was to be the litmus test for the alliance’s success, the