Coalition in Pakistan fails after schism
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pulled the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) out of the ruling coalition yesterday, after disputes over the judiciary and who should be the next president.
The two parties that had led the coalition will now put forward separate candidates in a presidential election on 6 September, when the country’s two chambered parliament and four provincial assemblies will elect a replacement for former President Pervez Musharraf.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has nominated its leader as Asif Ali Zardari, widower of former-leader Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated last year. Nawaz has named former chief justice Saeeduzzama Siddiqui as its candidate.
It is thought that the PPP has enough support to win but the PLM-N’s popularity is expected to make it difficult for the PPP to secure the two-thirds majority that is needed to amend the constitution.
Sharif is likely to gain popularity by standing firm on the reinstatement of a number of judges, whose sacking was regarded as the main reason that public opinion turned against Musharraf.
The PPP is reluctant to restore the judges, partly because of concern that the deposed chief justice might take up challenges to an amnesty granted to Zardari and other party leaders from corruption charges last year.
In addition, the judges were often willing to challenge Musharraf’s government on the legality of various decisions, something the PPP will not view with enthusiasm now that it effectively controls government.
Sharif is also proposing to strip the presidential post of some powers, in particular the power to dismiss parliament. This is likely to be popular with those who wish to avoid another dictatorship, although the PPP have not pledged to do the same.
The prospect of political stability saw Pakistani stocks and the rupee strengthen last week but they later fell sharply, with traders citing the coalition’s inability to govern strongly and poor security in the region as the main factors.