Tensions rising between new Pakistani government, presidency: report

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Islamabad, May 23 (UNI) Tensions are mounting between the Presidency and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government over a host of issues, local media reports said today.

PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari's statement to an Indian journalist that President Pervez Musharraf is a ''relic of the past'' standing between the people of Pakistan and democracy, has created ripples in official circles and sparked rumours of an impending ''confrontation'' between the two.

Though the PPP government ''publicly'' claims that it wants a working relationship with the president, Mr Zardari's comment that the ruling coalition has to abide by the wishes of the people who are against President Musharraf suggests that the Presidency and the government are at odds over the proposed constitutional package prepared by the PPP.

Daily Times quoted insider sources as saying the constitutional package would include amendments to restore the judges sacked by President Musharraf and strip him of many powers.

They feared that it would create an environment of hostility between the government and the Presidency and the signs of a confrontation have already started appearing.

The Presidency sharply reacted to reports about the president's resignation as part of a deal followed by a background briefing by presidential spokesman, Rashid Qureshi to a small group of journalists.

A private TV channel, without naming the presidential spokesman, said the president would soon speak to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani over the deteriorating political, economic and law and order situation in the country and convey to the government that political uncertainty was scaring away investors.

''The president is worried about the economic situation... He is thinking of talking to the prime minister about it,'' a participant of the briefing quoted Mr Qureshi as saying.

The spokesman said foreign countries had agreed to set up nine universities in Pakistan but now they have decided not to come here because of the political uncertainty.

The spokesman ruled out possibility of the president's impeachment because the government was still short of a two-thirds majority in a joint sitting of both houses.

Similarly, he rejected the impression that the Presidency was being consulted on the constitutional package.

''The constitutional package can also not be passed as it too requires a two-thirds majority,'' he said, adding there was no contact between the president and the PPP co-chairman.

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