Pakistan’s ruling coalition splits wide open (Second Lead)

August 25th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 25 (IANS) Pakistan plunged into political crisis Monday as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif pulled out his party from the ruling coalition to protest the government’s failure to reinstate 60 senior judges sacked by then president Pervez Musharraf in November last year.Addressing a crowded press conference, Sharif said his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had been “forced” to take this decision. He also announced the party’s move to field a candidate for the post of president.

Sharif’s announcement followed days of tension with the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), whose leader Asif Ali Zardari has shown reluctance to reinstate the sacked judges.

The move comes a week after former army chief Musharraf quit as president of the country after nearly nine long years in power.

Flanked by his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other senior leaders of his party, Nawaz Sharif said that Zardari had promised to reinstate the judges within a day of Musharraf’s resignation.

“Though a week has passed, no decision was taken by him towards the reinstatement,” he said.

He said Zardari had also violated an agreement they had by nominating himself as the presidential candidate instead of announcing the name of a person who was “non partisan, nationally respected and accepted by the coalition partners”.

Sharif announced the name of former chief justice Saaed uz Zamman Siddqui as his party’s nominee for the president’s post. The presidential election is scheduled for Sep 6.

The pullout of Sharif’s party, the PML (N), from the coalition government formed after the February general election that threw up a hung verdict may lead to further political instability in Pakistan.

Pakistani is witnessing a resurgence of the Taliban and other terrorist outfits in different parts of the country.

Sharif, whose party will now sit in the opposition, said: “We will continue to fight for the reinstatement of the judges and restoration of full democracy in Pakistan.”

The former prime minister read out a statement at the press conference to show how many times Zardari had promised to reinstate the judges but had failed to keep his promise.

“Since there was no other option I was forced to pull out of the coalition,” Sharif said.

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