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Pakistani Opposition to Form New Gov't

  International  -   POSTED: 2008/03/09 15:59

President Pervez Musharraf is not about to quit, a senior ally said Monday, a day after opponents agreed to form a government and restore judges who had questioned the legality of the former army chief continuing in office.

The declaration by the winners of Feb. 18 elections immediately heightened expectations that the unpopular, U.S.-allied president could be on the way out. "Moment of Truth for President Musharraf," read a headline in the respected Dawn newspaper.

But the parties of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and another ex-premier, Nawaz Sharif, still lack the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to impeach the president. It was also unclear exactly how they could reinstate the sacked justices.

Tariq Azim, a former minister and a Musharraf ally, predicted the victorious parties would ease their rhetoric against the president as they settle into government.

"They will have to first stabilize themselves. In the process of stabilizing themselves, they will deal with the president and maybe the long-running rift between them and the president gets a thaw," Azim told The Associated Press.

By agreeing to send their ministers to be sworn in by Musharraf, the politicians have "faced the reality that there is a president and he is not going anywhere," Azim said.

Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup and turned Pakistan into a close U.S. ally after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He has faced mounting pressure to resign since his supporters were routed in the elections last month. Bhutto and Sharif's parties finished first and second.


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