Don't sack Musharraf, US, UK tell poll victors'

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Lahore, Feb.22 : The Governments of the United States and Britain have reportedly urged the victors of the February 18 general elections in Pakistan to consider a working arrangement with President Pervez Musharraf, and not to think about sacking him by securing a two-thirds majority in the Parliament.

According to a report in The Independent, "[The US] does not want some people pushed out because it would lead to instability. In this case that means Musharraf," said a Western diplomat.

In such circumstances, according to the Daily Times, the US and western officials had urged the the late Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to ... form a coalition that includes all "moderate" elements.

As the PPP and the PML-N negotiate to form a coalition government, the issue of the reinstatement of the judges sacked by Musharraf after he imposed a state of emergency in November 3 "has rapidly emerged as the most contentious issue", it said.

"Yesterday morning, a US diplomat based in Lahore spent two hours with Aitzaz Ahsan, leader of the lawyers movement, laying out the US position."

Ahsan declined to detail the contents of his conversation with the diplomat, but said: "There is no way other than to reinstate the judges. We are not going to let this pass. We will not let it be accepted as a norm."

Officials admit that in the aftermath of such a decisive election, the US administration's decision to stick by President Musharraf could be seen as interference and carried with it high risks.

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