Pakistan parliament set for Musharraf showdown | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 17, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 17, 2008

News Analysis

Pakistan parliament set for Musharraf showdown

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President Pervez Musharraf

Pakistan's new parliament is set for a bruising confrontation with President Pervez Musharraf when it meets today after the key US ally's supporters lost heavily in elections, analysts say.
Musharraf's political future will be left hanging in the balance when a hostile coalition government led by slain opposition leader Benazir Bhuto's party and the grouping of former premier Nawaz Sharif takes over.
"Parliament will meet amid fears of a confrontation between Musharraf and the parliament because Musharraf appears determined to hold on to power at any cost," political analyst Hasan Askari said.
"The political situation is uncertain," Askari, who is teaching at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, told AFP.
Pakistan is reeling from a series of attacks by Islamic militants.
But the biggest threat facing Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999, is the vow by the Bhutto and Sharif parties to restore some 60 judges whom Musharraf sacked in November under a state of emergency.
Musharraf deposed his arch-foe, chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and the rest of the judiciary to ward off legal challenges to his re-election as president by the outgoing loyalist parliament in October.
But if the judges are restored, the Supreme Court could overturn Musharraf's re-election -- leaving him high and dry.
Musharraf's popularity has slumped in recent opinion polls and his power has been weakened by his resignation as army chief in November.
Another bone of contention is the coalition parties' declared intention to scrap presidential powers to dissolve parliament and to undo a raft of other amendments Musharraf made.
Meanwhile, Sharif, the man Musharraf ousted in 1999, has hinted that parliament could pursue impeachment of the president.
Political analyst and newspaper columnist Shafqat Mahmood said Musharraf would find it almost impossible to weather the storm and would be out of office within months.
"Musharraf will be a nuisance, an interventionist and hang heavily over the parliament as a threat," said Rasul Baksh Rais, a political scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
In the end, Rais said Musharraf's best course was for a graceful exit since he "has no chance to survive a confrontation with an assertive parliament.”

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