February 21, 2008


Filed under: POST-ELECTIONS 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 10:42 pm
Tags: ,

Friday, February 22, 2008


‘Don’t sack Musharraf, US, UK tell poll victors’

* Analysts warn the move could backfire

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: In a strategy some Western diplomats admit could badly backfire, the Bush administration has made clear it wishes to continue to support President Pervez Musharraf even after the defeat of his allies in Monday’s election, according to a report by The Independent on Thursday.

“[The US] does not want some people pushed out because it would lead to instability. In this case that means Musharraf,” said a Western diplomat.

In such circumstances, US and western officials had urged the the late Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to … form a coalition that includes all “moderate” elements, the newspaper said.

As the PPP and the PML-N negotiate to form a coalition government, the issue of the reinstatement of the judges sacked by Musharraf after he imposed a state of emergency in November 3 “has rapidly emerged as the most contentious issue”, it said.

“The suggestion [to drop the demand for sacked chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s return] has been there from Western countries for some time,” the British newspaper quoted an aide of Nawaz as saying. “In fact it was raised by [a senior British official] when he met [Nawaz Sharif] in London. [But] we are not willing to compromise on our stance. We feel it would be against the interest of the Pakistani people.”

“Yesterday morning, a US diplomat based in Lahore spent two hours with Aitzaz Ahsan, leader of the lawyers movement, laying out the US position.” Ahsan declined to detail the contents of his conversation with the diplomat, but said: “There is no way other than to reinstate the judges. We are not going to let this pass. We will not let it be accepted as a norm.”

Backfire: Officials admit that in the aftermath of such a decisive election, the US administration’s decision to stick by President Musharraf could be seen as interference and carried with it high risks.

“The important thing is that a stable government can be formed,” a western diplomat told The Independent.

“[How is it that] the US believes Musharraf can be the guarantor of any sort of stability when he is the source of instability?” said Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch.



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