Friday, October 05, 2007

Power Sharing for Pakistan?

We do seem to have the basis for an agreement, with the following components:

--corruption charges have been dropped against Benizar Bhutto;
--the presidential election will proceed as scheduled;
--Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party will not walk out from parliament, meaning that attempts to prevent General Pervez Musharraf's re-election (it is an indirect election via national and regional assemblies acting as an electoral college) by denying a quorum will fail;
--Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the vice-chair of the PPP and another presidential candidate, will drop his petition asking the Supreme Court to require Musharraf to resign from the army in order to run;
--in turn, Musharraf has announced that after he is re-elected he would step dwon from his army position
--the path is cleared for Bhutto herself to potentially become prime minister and create a government of national unity that will reduce criticism of Musharraf in the West.

Can a Pakistani version of French cohabitation work? Will Musharraf be able to continue to guide policy? Does the deal with Bhutto effectively take the wind out of the sails of the opposition? It does seem that there are short-term benefits to Musharraf but the long-term impacts remain unclear, at this point.

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