Zardari under US pressure for coalition with PML-Q

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Islamabad, Feb 22 (UNI) In the post-poll government formation phase in Pakistan, both the presidential camp and the US are pressurising PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari to go in for an awkward coalition with the PML-Q and other pro-Musharraf forces.

Background interviews reveal that Mr Zardari has been offered government at the Centre and in at least three of the four provinces if he distances himself from the Nawaz League, local daily The News said today.

However, he told those who approached him that he did not consider the former ruling Q-League a political entity.

Despite reservations of some of the PPP leaders from the Punjab against the N-League in the central executive committee of the party that met in Islamabad on Wednesday, Mr Zardari endorsed the idea of making a coalition government with the political parties like the PML-N, secular ethnic pashtun Awami National Party (ANP), and others.

He also expressed his confidence that the two top-most popular parties-- PPP and PML-N-- would sort out their issues to make a workable coalition, both at the Centre and in the provinces.

Although, he did not talk of Washington's pressures, sources in the party confirmed that the US had pressurised the PPP co-chairperson to make a coalition government with the likes of the PML-Q and MQM but not with the PML-N.

The N-League's foremost priority of the reinstatement of the deposed judges is not getting approval from Washington despite the fact that this is the most popular demand of the masses in Pakistan.

Not only the Americans are directly influencing the party to make what many seem as an ''artificial'' coalition government in Islamabad, some pseudo-intellectuals are also pursuing the same agenda, the newspaper said.

An influential PPP sympathiser yesterday issued a timely warning to Mr Zardari to beware of such unsought advice.

The PPP, the source said, is not averse to the cause of the reinstatement of the deposed judges but only differs with the PML-N on the strategy. Initially, it was PPP's slain chairperson Benazir Bhutto who publicly called the deposed chief justice Iftikhar as her chief justice and demanded the reinstatement of all the sacked judges.

However, later following US pressure she avoided her demand for the judges' restoration for quite some time.

She went to the Judges Colony to meet the detained deposed chief justice. However, on the day of her assassination and while addressing the last public meeting of her life, she resolved that the deposed judges would be restored.

Zamarrud Khan, who was an MNA in the previous National Assembly but lost this time, confirmed that Bhutto had committed at the Liaquat Bagh rally on December 27 that she would restore the deposed judges.

On the contrary, Mr Sharif vociferously pursued the cause of the judges' restoration and in return got extraordinary response on the election day from voters.

Even after the election, he did not change his tone or stance and resolved that the restoration of the judges would remain his top priority.

Mr Sharif pledged that he could never think of deviating from this demand even if he had to sit in the opposition. ''Government is not my concern. I want to see the judges restored and would make sure that it is done no matter if my party's political gains are at stake,'' he said.

Against Mr Sharif's popular stance, the PPP leadership wants to get this issue resolved through Parliament and by devising a new system for judges' appointment. The deposed judges' restoration, the PPP sources said, is also on the party's agenda but it wants the restoration of ''filtered'' judges. The party expects a National Assembly committee to do this filtering.

The PML-N, however, seeks the restoration of all the deposed judges.

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