Thursday, August 30, 2007

Musharaff Hedging On Bhutto Deal

By Cernig

The AFP - via Raw Story - is reporting that President Musharaff of Pakistan has criticized former PM Benazir Bhutto, via an official spokesman, for trying to rush his decision-making.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday rejected pressure from former premier Benazir Bhutto to make a snap decision on a power-sharing deal that would see him quit as army chief.

Bhutto said she needed to know by the weekend if key US ally Musharraf, who is under fierce pressure to give up his military role, would agree to a pact that would also allow her to return from self-imposed exile.

"While the president believes in dialogue and deliberations on all important issues, he never works under any pressure or ultimatum," Musharraf's spokesman, retired Major General Rashid Qureshi, said in a statement.

"The president would take all decisions only in national interest at appropriate times according to the constitution and law," he said in the first official reaction from Musharraf's camp on the power-sharing talks in London.

The sticking point between Bhutto and Musharraf's representatives has been whether the president will shed his uniform before he stands for re-election by parliament in September or October, political sources said.

A further issue is the demand by Bhutto, whose Pakistan People's Party is the country's largest, that the president give up the power to dissolve the lower house of parliament, they said.
I noted the supposed deal between the two yesterday and said at the time that Musharaff hadn't made an official statement yet. Today, the US press is playing catch-up.

Right now, I've no idea what this means. It could mean that Musharaff is about to refuse to deal or it could just mean that he's trying to delay agreement, to save political face, a little longer.

Possibly more significant, however, are the murmerings of discontent coming from other opposition Pakistani politicians. They say Bhutto has tainted herself badly by dealing with the dictator, but then again the would say that since they're the ones who would gain from any fall-off in her support. Interesting times, and I think the situation has to break one way or the other very soon.

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