Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bhutto Says Deal With Musharaff Unlikely

By Cernig

Signs continue that the current dictator of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, is on a slippery slope. Now, exiled former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has told the London Sunday Times that she intends to return early to Pakistan to challenge Musharaff' plans to secure a new term as president without waiting for elections.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, she said the logic for a political deal that she had been contemplating with Musharraf had been significantly weakened by the Supreme Court’s decision last week to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice he suspended earlier this year over claims of nepotism.

Critics said the real reason for the suspension had been that Musharraf believed Chaudhry would overrule his plans to be reappointed by the current parliament, in which he has a majority, rather than wait for a new assembly that is due to be elected by the end of this year.

Last night Bhutto said the Supreme Court had reasserted the independence of the judiciary and the newly strengthened courts could topple Musharraf through rulings on whether he can be appointed twice by the same assembly and whether he can continue to serve as both president and army chief of staff.

Any deal now with the general would be unpopular and damaging to her Pakistan People’s party (PPP), she said.

The only circumstances in which she might still consider an arrangement would be if she felt it necessary to guarantee fair parliamentary elections on time.

“He has lost his moral authority. His popularity rates are down and it would be very unpopular if we saved him. We would lose votes by being associated with him,” she said.
The two most likely outcomes now, to my mind, are either a Bhutto victory or a fresh military coup. I'm not betting which one, though.

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