Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pakistan: Will Musharraf Remain President?

Sources: Washington Post, Financial Times

Pakistani president Perfez Musharraf is facing calls to resign after last week’s election saw his party lose all but 40 of the 268 contested seats in the National Assembly. Musharraf’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, was soundly beaten by the two largest opposition parties: the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-N. The two parties 154 seats. The PPP was headed by recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto, and the Muslim League-N was headed by Nawaz Sharif.

The opposition parties have called for Musharraf’s resignation as president—but it seems unlikely that he will resign. He has made no showing that he wants to resign, and the Musharraf camp has refuted any rumors to the otherwise. Opposition forces do not have enough votes in the parliament to force an impeachment, but have cautioned that Musharraf may face civil disobedience by the population to force him to resign.

The two major opposition parties, faced with the prospect of working with Musharraf, have formed a coalition and nominated Amin Fahim to be prime minister. Fahim is a member of the PPP, and is believed to have been offered the post by Musharraf in 2002. This may likely result in additional stability when the opposition parties work with the ruling Musharraf.

Question: Will Musharraf bow to political pressure and resign? If not—how will Musharraf be able to work with opposition forces that he had previously tried to stamp out?

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