I will support a coalition government: Musharraf

March 7th, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
(Lead)
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 7 (IANS) A day after the army chief announced support to the political process, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said Friday that he would support a coalition government and expected it to support the peace process. “Durable, stable governments should be formed at the centre and provinces for five years, and if peace is maintained I assure that I will fully support the coalition that is being formed,” Musharraf said while addressing a gathering in Karachi.

Musharraf’s statement comes a day after Army Chief Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani reiterated that the army would stay out of the political process and hoped that it would not be dragged into any unnecessary controversy.

As army chief, Musharraf came to power in a 1999 coup, toppling the elected government of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif now holds the key to government formation at the centre and in Punjab. Musharraf stepped down as army chief in December last year before taking oath as civilian president for five more years following the controversial presidential elections in October.

Musharraf will face a hostile parliament since his allies have been defeated in the Feb 18 national polls. The incoming government could try to drive him out of power. However, the leading Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has not said a word on the matter.

In what is seen in political circles as a step possibly leading to bargain plea, Musharraf in an inexplicable softening this week dropped all corruption charges and pending cases against PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

But Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Nawaz), the PPP’s coalition partner in government formation, has repeatedly asked Musharraf to step down before the new parliament meets next week.

“There is no option left with Musharraf, he should step down or face impeachment,” said Sharif, whose party is the second largest after the PPP in the expected coalition.

“We will move a resolution in the very first session against Musharraf to seek a vote of confidence from parliament, and he’s bound to be defeated,” a PML-N leader told IANS requesting anonymity.

Sharif has been saying that he is not ready to work with the president who overthrew his government and sent him into exile with the entire family in 2000. Sharif managed his return in November last year reportedly with the help of Saudi rulers.

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