Pak presidential polls could trigger return to days of revenge and retribution

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Islamabad, Sept.5 : Pakistan is set for a return to the politics of revenge, retribution and blatant self-interest that bedeviled it in the 1990s, as the country prepares for Saturday's presidential poll.

According to a Vancouver Sun report, Benazir Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is a frontrunner for the job, but it cautions that a controversial Zardari, is showing a taste for partisan blood.

The paper cites the recent collapse of the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz coalition as proof of this political miasma in Pakistan.

It says that Nawaz Sharif withdrew his party last week from the governing coalition with the PPP over Zardari's failure to fulfill a promise to reinstate senior judges fired by Musharraf.

Zardari, it says, fears the judges might overturn an amnesty given him by Musharraf on corruption allegations for which he has already served 11 years in prison.

But this week the National Accountability Bureau, now run by Zardari as head of the governing party, reactivated old corruption charges against Shairf.

According to the paper, the resurrection of the corruption charges against Sharif, is a clear attempt by Zardari to destroy his main rival for power.

It also claims that in the past 18 months, a Taliban-led insurrection has developed inside Pakistan as the United States and its allies have pressed Islamabad governments to take control of the border region.

There have been many terrorist attacks in Pakistan's cities in recent months and on Wednesday there was an attempted assassination of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The growing instability inside Pakistan, it says has been given added frailty by deteriorating relations with India.

There have been days of shooting between Indian and Pakistani troops in Kashmir and serial bomb attacks.

"Zardari does not seem to possess either the intellectual qualities or the strength of character necessary to impose stability on this situation. Indeed, the recent surfacing of doctors' reports claiming he is a manic depressive with suicidal tendencies do not inspire confidence," it says.

As far as Washington is concerned, it will be happy to see "its man", Zardari, as president on Saturday, but "the Bush administration will also be getting a man who is his own worst enemy," it concludes.


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