UPDATE [930 EST]: Media outlets reported Monday that former PM Nawaz Sharif announced he is withdrawing his party from the ruling coalition. The Associated Press reported, “Sharif said Monday that he is pulling out of the five-month-old alliance because it has failed to restore judges ousted by ex- .”
Original Post Below:
There was a great deal of speculation this weekend over the future of Pakistan’s ruling coalition government. On Saturday, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari emerged as the party’s official candidate for the presidential elections next month, reported media outlets. Although an AFP report Saturday noted that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif said “he was ready to accept” Zardari as president “if he does away with powers to dissolve parliament,” other media outlets, including Dawn and the UK’s Guardian, provided slightly different accounts. The Guardian reported, “Nawaz Sharif, leader of the other major party in the coalition, is furious that he was not consulted over Zardari’s bid for the presidency.” Dawn noted in its coverage, “Nawaz linked his party’s support for Zardari’s candidacy “to the restoration of the judiciary by Monday and also called upon the government to repeal the 17th Amendment [slashing the presidency's powers] before the presidential elections.”
However, such demands are unlikely to be fulfilled, “putting the future of the coalition at stake within a week after the ouster of president Pervez Musharraf.” The Associated Press cited an aide to Nawaz, Pervez Rashid, who told the news agency Sunday that “general opinion” in the PML-N “favored an exit from the coalition and that party leaders would meet on Monday to decide.” Moreover, noted the AP, a PML-N leader, Javed Hashmi, indicated that “he was willing to run in the Sept. 6 election to succeed Musharraf if his party asks him to.” Currently, news sources have implied that Zardari “is almost certain” to win the presidential election, since his party has the required votes in parliament to get him elected. However, a collapsing coalition will surely complicate the already volatile political environment in the country.
With nomination papers for the September 6 election due Tuesday, much hinges on Monday’s judiciary deadline and the slated PML-N meetings [on whether or not to exit the coalition]. A PML-N spokesperson said Sunday, “There is no need for the party to be part of the coalition government, if one party is taking decisions unilaterally.” For further coverage of this developing story, watch this space.