Friday, August 22, 2008

Pakistan to Hold Presidential Election on September 6th

Pakistan's Elections Commission has announced there will be a Presidential election held on September 6th to determine a successor for Pervez Musharraf, who resigned earlier this week.
The election will be done through a simultaneous vote by Pakistan's National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.

However, complicating matters is that matter of reinstating judges who were sacked by Musharraf last November. Nawaz Sharif has threatened to pull out of the government by next Wednesday if the judges, especially Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, are not reinstated. The principle reason Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto's widower, has balked at reinstating Chaudhry is because he fears corruption charges would be reinstated against him. Zardari was granted this amnesty by Musharraf before he and Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October.

A best case scenario would be if Sharif were to convince Chaudhry not to pursue charges against Ali Zardari thus reassuring Ali Zardari sufficiently to go along with reinstating the judges. But this is not likely to happen. If Sharif doesn't get what he wants he'll have to pull out to save face unless he can get some kind of provisional agreement in place. That could throw the Presidential election into chaos if Sharif's PML-N boycotts the vote.

Paradoxically, the only thing that has been holding Ali Zardari and Sharif together was Musharraf. If they can't keep it together methinks Musharraf will find way his back into power. Maybe not next month but perhaps next year.

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