Archive for the ‘Asif Ali Zardari’ Category

U.S. Message to Pakistan: Battle Terror, Not India

December 4, 2008

U.S. officials said Wednesday that they are pressing Pakistan to change the primary mission of its intelligence services from preparing for war with India to actively helping the fight against Islamic extremists, some of whom have been linked to last week’s attacks in Mumbai.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) shakes hands with ... 
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) shakes hands with India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee before their meeting in New Delhi December 3, 2008.(B Mathur/Reuters)

That is the message Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael G. Mullen are delivering to President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad this week, the officials said. Adm. Mullen was in Pakistan on Wednesday and Miss Rice was expected there Thursday.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and parts of its military have been accused of being too close to militant groups that have staged numerous attacks in both Pakistan and neighboring India.

By Nicholas Kralev
The Washington Times

The chief of the United States military, admiral Mike Mullen, ... 
Chairman of the United States Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen Wednesday asked Pakistan to “investigate aggressively” any possible links that groups based in Pakistan have to the Mumbai attacks.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Jason Kempin)

“The ISI has been geared up for years to fight its neighbor next door,” a senior U.S. official said in reference to India. “It’s supportive of the Taliban in Afghanistan; it’s skeptical of the war on terror and thinks it’s a war against Islam. That has to change.”

In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, which killed at least 170 and wounded hundreds, “the situation has changed dramatically, and Pakistan has to follow every lead” to get to the bottom of the plot, he said.

“Otherwise, the Indians might decide that Pakistan cannot be counted on to be a partner in the war on terror,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he was discussing sensitive private exchanges with the nuclear-armed rivals.

Indian security forces are holding the only Mumbai attacker to be captured alive, and officials there say he has admitted to being a Pakistani and a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist group thought by some to have ties to current and former ISI members.

The U.S. official said the real war is with militants along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. Some Pakistani officials have suggested that they may need to move troops from that border to the Indian border if tensions rise further. But the U.S. official said there are “no signs that India will move additional forces” to the border.

To make sure the Indians give Pakistan no excuse to transfer troops, Miss Rice visited New Delhi on Wednesday. She said that any response by India “needs to be judged by its effectiveness in prevention and also by not creating other unintended consequences or difficulties.”

Related:

Mumbai Terrorists: The Facts We Know

 Banned Pakistani Militant Leaders Believed Orchestrated Mumbai

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Pakistan warns US troops after exchange of fire

September 26, 2008

By MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan warned U.S. troops not to intrude on its territory Friday, after the two anti-terror allies traded fire along the volatile border with Afghanistan.

Thursday’s five-minute clash adds to already heightened tensions at a time the United States is stepping up cross-border operations in a region known as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

The clash — the first serious exchange with Pakistani forces acknowledged by the U.S. — follows a string of other alleged border incidents and incursions that have angered many here.

Speaking in New York, Pakistan’s president tried to downplay the incident, saying only “flares” were fired at foreign helicopters that he said strayed into his country from Afghanistan.

See Pakistan’s President saying his borders cannot be violated:
http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/
?rn=3906861&cl=9908889&ch=4226714&src=news

U.S. and NATO military officials said the ground troops and helicopters were in Afghan territory.

The escalating violence in Pakistan was also felt as far south as Karachi.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080926/ap_on_re_as/as_
pakistan_us;_ylt=AnGAbn3_PR022mLBnDYFIais0NUE

Pakistan to Talk With Militants, New Leaders Say

March 22, 2008
March 22, 2008
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Faced with a sharp escalation of suicide bombings in urban areas, the leaders of Pakistan’s new coalition government say they will negotiate with the militants believed to be orchestrating the attacks, and will use military force only as a last resort.That talk has alarmed American officials, who fear it reflects a softening stance toward the militants just as President Pervez Musharraf has given the Bush administration a freer hand to strike at militants using pilotless Predator drones.

Many Pakistanis, however, are convinced that the surge in suicide bombings — 17 in the first 10 weeks of 2008 — is retaliation for three Predator strikes since the beginning of the year. The spike in attacks, combined with the crushing defeat of Mr. Musharraf’s party in February parliamentary elections, has brought demands for change in his American-backed policies.

Speaking in separate interviews, the leaders of Pakistan’s new government coalition — Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N — tried to strike a more independent stance from Washington and repackage the conflict in a more palatable way for Pakistanis.

They said they were determined to set a different course from that of President Musharraf, who has received generous military financial help of more than $10 billion from Washington for his support.

“We are dealing with our own people,” said Mr. Sharif, who was twice prime minister in the 1990s. “We will deal with them very sensibly. And when you have a problem in your own family, you don’t kill your own family. You sit and talk. After all, Britain also got the solution of the problem of Ireland. So what’s the harm in conducting negotiations?”

Mr. Zardari said: “Obviously what they have been doing for the last eight years has not been working. Even a fool knows that.”

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/22/world/asia/
22pstan.html

Pakistan: New PM To Be Named Tonight

March 22, 2008

By Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan
March 22, 2008

Political games being played in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan have entered a decisive phase. According to a report, the husband of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, who was gunned by terrorists before the elections, Asif Ali Zardari has chosen a person from Pubjab province to become the prime minister.
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There are also reports of serious differences that have erupted in Pakistan People’s Party as most of the members of National Assembly think that Amir Fahim, president of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians is the right person to lead Pakistan at this critical time.
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Reports said that Pakistan Peoples Party would likely to nominate Yousuf Raza Gillani as the new prime minister of the country, sources said.
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According to Geo News, PPP has completed consultations with coalition partners about the prime minister and the allies have endorsed the nomination.
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The formal announcement of the name of prime minister is expected tonight. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would announce the name.

Muhammad Reports From Pakistan, 21 March 2008

March 21, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. I have been passing through a severe depression as I have been seeing with my own eyes that officials of Pakistani administration has been providing protection to terrorists.
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The terrorists have been given free hand to kill the soldiers and innocent people. Like me thousands of tribesmen have been losing the hope. Officials of the United States posted in Pakistan may be aware of the situation, but they have also been keeping complete mum.
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Terrorists and Taliban have destroyed schools in the tribal areas, but the officials are taking no action. They are just sitting in their offices enjoying the life.

Believe me Sir, sometime my heart tells me to take up the arms and kill all these terrorists who have been playing havoc with the lives and properties of the masses. But I can do nothing as I am helpless. Terrorists have been abusing and threatening me, but I can do nothing. I want to kill all these evil forces.

You are my brother you will certainly help me.

I have been talking in this way as I have already told you that I am depression. Political situation in Pakistan is also fluid.

President Musharraf has summoned the National Assembly to elect prime minister on March 24. I just placing a report of a newspaper for keeping update you and your readers.

President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday called a special session of the new National Assembly for Monday to let his political opponents elect their first prime minister after eight-and-a-half years as a parliamentary momentum seemed to leave his own office at their mercy.

An apparently swift action on a proposal from caretaker Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro came only a day after the National Assembly elected its first woman speaker and her deputy by more than two-thirds majorities, which showed the anti-Musharraf camp could muster enough numbers in a joint session of the two houses of parliament to impeach the president if they so wanted.

The announcement came also when the country waited with bated breath for the majority coalition of the winners of Feb 18 election to name their candidate for prime minister to end a bitter controversy that has robbed a historic transition of some of its lustre.

The candidate, under the coalition agreement, must be from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has added a high drama to a prolonged suspense by calling its boy chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from a studies break in Britain to name the person for the office that his mother, Benazir Bhutto, would have taken without question for a historic third term if she had not been assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack in Rawalpindi on Dec 27 soon after she addressed a campaign rally.

The selection of the candidate, to be made by the 19-year-old Bilawal’s father and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, has led to an unprecedented controversy in the party after one of its senior-most figures, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who is also the president of its electoral arm PPP Parliamentarians, found his candidacy being blocked by a mysterious propaganda campaign against him and the talk of an alternative being sought from the most populous Punjab province rather than from the hopeful’s Sindh.

The National Assembly secretariat said in a statement the session for what the Constitution calls “ascertainment of the member who commands the confidence of majority of the members of the assembly” would begin at 4pm on Monday, while it would remain open on Sunday to receive nominations of candidates by 2pm and their scrutiny by the Speaker at 3pm.The election will be held through what is called division” in parliamentary parlance, in which members go to different lobbies to record their votes for candidates in accordance with the direction of their respective parties as required by an anti-defection clause of the Political Parties Act that forbids floor-crossing.It will be the fourth prime ministerial election in a little more than five years and the first time President Musharraf will find himself unable to stop an opponent from taking that office since he seized power in an Oct 12, 1999 coup that toppled then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

After the previous October 2002 election, the president kept the anti-defection law suspended to inspire defections mainly from the PPP to help his hand-picked Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali of the formerly ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) get elected prime minister in November by only a one-vote majority for a tenure that lasted only 20 months.Mr Jamali’s two successors to complete the remainder of his five-year term — PML president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain for a transitional two months and Shaukat Aziz for more than three years — were elected with comfortable majorities.

Now, whoever is nominated as the PPP candidate, possibly on Saturday or Sunday, will face only a token contest from Mr Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement as the joint candidate of the new PML-led opposition alliance.

Wednesday’s election of Dr Fehmida Mirza as the first woman to become the National Assembly speaker and Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, both of the PPP, by more than two-thirds majorities of the 342-seat house — securing 249-70 and 246-68 votes respectively against the opposition rivals — served as a stark warning to a strong but an isolated president whom his opponents want to be out of their way to restore full parliamentary democracy.

The vote, which at least two of its members missed, showed the coalition could impeach the president on the oft-repeated charge of violating the Constitution as well as “gross misconduct” as it would have the required two-thirds majority in a joint sitting of the 342-seat National Assembly and 100-seat Senate with the help of a six-member anti-Musharraf “like-minded” group formed in the Senate last month and independents.

The Senate is presently left with 96 members because three members have opted to take National Assembly seats they won on Feb 18 and the death of one PML member from Balochistan.

While the coalition can hope to bag all these four seats to be filled through by-elections, the present Senate strength leaves the pro-Musharraf camp with 50 members (minus the six rebels) and his opponents with 46, whose addition to its 251 supporters in the National Assembly takes the total to 297, which will be one vote more than the 296-vote two-thirds majority of the total 443 members of both houses needed for the passage of an impeachment resolution.But the new would-be ruling coalition, which had dismissed an impeachment move against the president in the recent past on the ground of not having the required numbers, does not seem to be seeking such a course immediately in order to allow itself to settle down in power.

It still remains short of a two-thirds majority in the Senate to be able to pass constitutional amendments passed by a two-thirds majority in each house, such as one to clip the president of his controversial powers to sack a prime minister, dissolve the National Assembly and appoint provincial governors and armed forces chiefs at his discretion.

Dear Sir, just pray for our safety. You are nice brother and a honest and lovely man.

Thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan

Commentary: Momentous day for Pakistan, Bhutto’s legacy

March 18, 2008
By Asif Ali Zardari

Asif Ali Zardari is the co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party and widower of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in Pakistan in December.

In this handout photo released by Pakistan Parliament House, ...
In this handout photo released by Pakistan Parliament House, Asif Ali Zardari, left, widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party waves as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks on during the National assembly’s first session at Parliament House in Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday, March 17, 2008. Pakistan inaugurated a new parliament on Monday dominated by opponents of President Pervez Musharraf who have vowed to crimp his powers and review his U.S.-backed policies against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
(AP Photo/Pakistan Parliament House, HO)

(CNN) — Monday was a momentous day for the people of Pakistan, but a bittersweet day for me.

Sitting in the gallery watching a democratically elected National Assembly headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party and its coalition partners, I thought of the terrible price paid for this moment of liberty. I thought of the many jailed, beaten, tortured, and exiled. I thought of all of those who had their reputations assaulted. I thought of the undermining and dismantling of Pakistani civil society. I thought of the attacks on the independence and autonomy of the judicial system. I thought of the censorship of the press, emergency rule and martial law.

But of course more than anything else, I thought of my beloved wife, Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto, who sacrificed her life for her beliefs and her country. This was the day of her triumph, the vindication of her long battle for the restoration of democracy. For my country, this was a day of celebration. But for me and our children, this day was also a day of tears. Democracy had come to Pakistan, but at a terrible, terrible price.

Last week, the two largest political parties in Pakistan agreed to form a coalition government that would restore democracy and bring stability to our country. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which I lead after the assassination of my wife, has joined the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to form a broad-based, democratic, liberal government in Pakistan — an umbrella of reconciliation and consensus. The new prime minister, from the PPP, will be announced within the next few days.

In agreeing to form a coalition government Mr. Sharif and I have responded to the mandate given by the people of Pakistan in the February 18 election. Pakistan’s people no longer want to live under the thumb of a dictator. They want an end to terrorism and violence and wish to join the rest of the modern world in the pursuit of peace and prosperity. They want to restore the supremacy of the people’s house, the National Assembly, and free it from the sword of Damocles of a marginal presidency with inflated, unconstitutional authority.

Pakistan’s political leaders and people have suffered from the politics of personal destruction; we have been battered by dictatorship; we have seen civil society taken apart and a free and independent judiciary destroyed. We have seen international assistance, secured in the name of fighting terrorism, diverted towards making Pakistan’s affluent few richer. We have seen progress on education, health and women’s rights stopped and reversed. But now, with renewed confidence in democratic parties like the PPP and PML-N, it is time for the rebirth of a democratic, vital and progressive Pakistan.

Some fear a coalition government would lack the necessary strength to tackle Pakistan’s myriad problems. But cooperation between the country’s biggest political parties, representing an overwhelming majority of the people, would bring greater stability than one-man rule. Together, the PPP and PML-N will be able to build a strong civil society. That would go a long way to erasing the scars of militarism and militancy. We will focus on providing education and employment at the grassroots levels so the country’s youth can play an integral role in building a strong national economy.

Under the rule of Pervez Musharraf, extremists were allowed to thrive along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The key to improving security there is not to make citizens in Pakistan’s tribal areas feel like second-rate citizens kept under lock and key, caught between the threats of violence from militants and the military. Rather, we must let all of our citizens, including those in the Federally Administered Tribal Area, know they are part participants in the growth of Pakistan’s economy and civil society.

Fostering a better level of trust and understanding among the people in the border areas, and delivering on their key needs, is essential to enhancing security in the FATA and throughout Pakistan. While immediate steps must be taken to hunt down identified terrorists, the long-term solution to extremism lies in respecting the will of the people and in providing them with a means of livelihood at every level — food, clothing, shelter, jobs and education. By talking to and respecting our people, we will be able to isolate the extremists and terrorists.

Those of us who are now in a position of leadership seek, in my wife’s words, “a tomorrow better than any of the yesterdays we have ever known.” We see a Pakistan where all children, regardless of their socio-economic standing or their gender, are guaranteed compulsory and quality primary and secondary education. We see a Pakistani educational system of quality teachers, who receive decent salaries, and teach in modern classrooms with state-of-the-art computers and technology. We see a Pakistan where political madrassas that teach hatred are closed, and educational institutions that focus on science and technology flourish.

The PPP has a vision to build a nation that is one of the great capital markets of the world; a revitalized nation that will generate international investment. We look forward to the complete electrification of all of our villages, the purification of our nation’s drinking water, the privatization of the public sector, the expansion of the energy sector, the development of our export industries, the modernization of our ports and the rebuilding our national infrastructure. All of these elements are essential to a Pakistan where a democratically elected government, with the mandate of the people, confronts and marginalizes the forces of extremism and terrorism wherever they may exist in our nation. In other words, I see the Pakistan for which my wife lived and died.

Pakistan’s democracy has not evolved over the past 60 years because the generals believed they should intervene in politics and run the country. The army’s misperception of itself as the country’s only viable institution, and its deep-rooted suspicion of the civilian political process, has prevented democracy from flourishing. The PPP and its allies will reverse the current regime’s suppression of civil society and free speech. We will establish a Press Complaints Commission similar to that of the United Kingdom and stand up for the democratic rights of citizens to freely establish television and radio stations, subject to the basic legal framework.

While the tasks ahead are not easy, the Pakistan Peoples Party plans to work in good faith with its fellow democratic parties and our coalition allies to achieve our goal of building a new, progressive Pakistan. Everything will not come at once. The reformation of Pakistan — politically, economically and socially — will be a long and complex process. But we are determined to begin and we are determined to succeed.

We did not come this far, we did not sacrifice this much, to fail.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

Muhammad Reports from Pakistan, March 13, 2008

March 12, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I am sorry for delay in establishing contact with you during last few days. Actually I was in Bajaur Agency, my home town, where terrorists and security forces have pounded each other positions.

The security forces used heavy weapons against terrorists. Mortor shells hit several houses in parts of the agency killing dozens of people. The whole areas remained closed. No one was allowed to enter the areas.

I also remained trapped in the cross firing. The bang bangs of canons have created great fear among the people. During the firing I run for a mile for saving myself.

Small children were also ranning with me. They were screaming.

The exact death toll is not availabale, but people say that dozens of people were killed. I think now the security forces have been showing seriousness, but there are still some officials, who have been supporting these terrorists. I want to bring in you kind notice that now the terrorists have been losing support of the tribesmen.

Situation in other parts of Pakistan is also critical. According to a report, suicide bombers have struck Lahore for the third time since January this year. The eight-story building of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been blown up, with many fatal casualties.

Pakistani lawyers offer funeral prayers in absentia for the ... 
Pakistani lawyers offer funeral prayers in absentia for the victims of suicide bomb blasts in Lahore, a day after the attacks. Mourners offered funeral prayers Wednesday for 27 people killed in two suicide blasts in Pakistan, as violence in the northwest of the country left another dozen people dead, officials said.(AFP/Arif Ali)
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Another strike in Model Town by suicide-bombers riding a vehicle has killed four. One can say that the FIA bombing is a part of the series of attacks aimed at the security agencies of the country. The earlier two attacks were on policemen near the General Post Office and the Naval War College located in the city’s heart.

The second attack in Model Town is not clear in its intent. The place blown up by the bombers was near the house of an army officer and not too far from the houses owned by the PPP leader Mr Asif Ali Zardari. The message concealed in the second attack could be political, a link in the chain of events leading us to the assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto in December last year.

Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of opposition Pakistan People's ...
Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of opposition Pakistan People’s Party addresses a news conference in Karachi March 3, 2008.REUTERS/Athar


A stupid interview given by Osama bin Laden’s son Umar in Egypt has the boy saying that his father was a “good friend” of Mr Nawaz Sharif, thus unwittingly queering the political pitch in Pakistan.

The war is between Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies on the one hand and the state of Pakistan on the other. Under the new army chief Pakistan has been able to counteract the inroads made in many parts of Pakistan by the soldiers of the terrorist organisation. But unfortunately the army is increasingly worried about the lack of sufficient support from the public at large so that it can face up to the terrorists.

An injured Pakistani man and others run after the bomb explosion ...
An injured Pakistani man and others run after the bomb explosion in front of a badly damaged building of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore. Mourners offered funeral prayers Wednesday for 27 people killed in two suicide blasts in Pakistan, which have piled pressure on the incoming government to tackle Islamic militancy.(AFP/Aameed Qureshi)
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Political activism in Pakistan is focused on the restoration of the judiciary and the ouster of President Pervez Musharraf. What the politicians and the media are ignoring at great risk is the country’s response to the takeover of its territories and the virtual free run of the country that the suicide bombers have today.

To give just one example: a case unfolding in a court in Rawalpindi, where the boys who had formed the suicide squad to kill Ms Bhutto are under trial, has been totally ignored despite confessions on the part of the bombers.

Public reaction to the destruction of the FIA building yesterday came in the shape of a protest march by citizens — most of them flag-bearing members of the PPP — who raised slogans against the government of President Musharraf without uttering a word against the terrorists.

The misplaced assumption is that it is the state only which has the responsibility to protect the citizens and must be blamed for falling down on its job.

This draws our attention to the task of the democratically elected politicians to evolve a strategy against terrorism. So far their very rudimentary thoughts on the problem are encapsulated in three words: “talk to them.”

This of course is not enough. The people will expect the coalition government to take substantial steps to prevent the suicide-bombers from attacking at will.

Dear Sir, the people of tribal areas recognise your role in war against terrorism. Now the liberation of tribal areas from terrorists is imminent. We will never forget your kindness and love. Again thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan

Pakistan Opposition to Form Government

March 9, 2008

By Zarar Khan The Associated Press
Sunday, March 9, 2008; 1900 GMT 

BHURBAN, Pakistan — Pakistan’s election winners sealed an agreement Sunday to form a coalition government and said parliament would restore judges fired by President Pervez Musharraf — further clouding the U.S.-allied leader’s political future.
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In the capital, police fired tear gas at protesters who gathered outside the residence of the deposed Supreme Court chief justice to demand his reinstatement.

A lawyer holding a black flag walks amongst tear gas, fired ...
A lawyer holding a black flag walks amongst tear gas, fired by police, during a protest against Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf, near the residence of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, in Islamabad March 9, 2008.
REUTERS/Mian Khursheed (PAKISTAN)
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Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose government was ousted in Musharraf’s 1999 coup, announced their pact after talks at a resort town in the foothills of the Himalayas.
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“The coalition partners are ready to form the government,” Sharif said at a news conference….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/09/AR2008030900857.html?hpid=topnews

Pakistan coalition partners thrash out PM choice

February 22, 2008
by Danny Kemp

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan‘s two biggest opposition parties sought to thrash out their choice for premier Friday after agreeing to form a coalition government that could drive President Pervez Musharraf from power.
An anti-Musharraf lawyer throws a teargas shell towards police ... 
An  anti-Musharraf lawyer throws a teargas shell towards police during a protest rally in Karachi on February 21. Pakistan’s two biggest opposition parties sought to thrash out their choice for premier after agreeing to form a coalition government that could drive President Pervez Musharraf from power.
(AFP/Rizwan Tabassum) 

Ex-premier Nawaz Sharif and the widowed husband of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto said their parties, once bitter rivals, would join forces after trouncing Musharraf’s allies in elections earlier in the week.

Officials from both parties said the frontrunner to be prime minister was Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the widely respected vice president of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

After Friday's prayers, Pakistani Muslims shout slogans as they ... 

Pakistan: Muhammad Reports on February 21, 2008

February 21, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope you may be in the best spirit of life.

You are the hope of millions of people living in the rugged mountains on Pak-Afghan border. You have given your time to them. I think the tribesmen of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas will never forget your cooperation and kindness.

The situation in Pakistan is still uncertain as the politicians are not ready to accept each others. They forget one thing that the country is at war with terrorists. Most of the people think that some of the political parties are being financed by the terrorists and this is the reason they want ouster of President Musharraf at all cost.

I want to inform you ouster of Musharraf will strengthen the position of terrorists. It is ironic that terrorists have diverted the attention of world from the real issue. The real issue of Pakistan and world is the elimination of terrorism. Elimination of terrorism is must for democracy and civilisation in Pakistan and tribal areas.

In the presence of terrorists a civilised society cannot be created. Women cannot walk in Pakistan freely. They are being harassad or raped by the terrorists. In the present elections the women were barred from casting their votes. I think the politicians have no right to ask Musharraf to quit.

These corrupt politicians are responsible for the choas and anarchy in the country. The News running a campaign against Musharraf in its editorial discussed the situation. Both the main political heavyweights, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, did not wait for a day before making the demand that President Pervez Musharraf should quit as the people of Pakistan have given their overwhelming mandate against him.

An equally belligerent presidency firmly rejected this demand within hours stating that the president had been elected for five years, and that was here to stay and would work with whoever formed the government. In this some may see the sowing of a potentially (mutually) destructive confrontation in future.

As for the demand that the president step down, there is immense weight in it for the simple reason that the election was in fact a referendum on the president and his policies.

However, fulfilling the demand may be easier said than done. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the president will go down, so to speak, without a fight, though in most democratic and/or civilized countries by now this would have happened. A key factor in this whole situation will be the extent of the backing that the president receives both from the military and Washington.

The PPP and the PML-N have won against heavy odds and after a bitter struggle in which they have offered huge sacrifices — of life, freedoms, prestige, finances, comfort and all. The people of Pakistan have recognized these sacrifices and repaid them with their support and confidence. The parties now have to move on very cautiously to consolidate their gains and ensure that a smooth transition of power takes place in the shortest possible time so that focus can return to the real issues waiting to be addressed.

A premature and unnecessary confrontation with the president would therefore not be in order.The first task of the winners should be to see that the president immediately summons parliament and that the issue of the formation of the government and the leader of the house is decided in a timely fashion.

The PPP and the PML-N have to work together not to rock the boat before it starts sailing. They should set all the contentious issues aside, including, for the moment, that of the restoration of the judges, to get to the next step of the political process.

There should now be no hesitation and embarrassment for Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif to meet the president and discuss with him the next step — of course this will be from a position of great strength and as the voice of the people of Pakistan. The mindset of the leadership must change from that of a persecuted band of unwanted non-entities to genuine claimants of power asking their due share of power.

The issue of Mr Musharraf resigning should be left for a time when he tries to block the people’s mandate and acts in the old ways of a commando not ready to listen to anyone in his bunker.

Mr Musharraf should accept the reality and realize that if he fights it out and stays, it could be as a lame duck president. He should undo all that he has done in the past and this means freeing all political prisoners, deposed judges and lawyers and undoing the curbs imposed on the media including unwarranted bans on certain television anchors.

The managements themselves should have acted since PEMRA has no authority or reason not to listen to the voice of the two main party leaders, one of whom said on Feb 19 that he would even consider disbanding it altogether. By not listening to these popular demands Mr Musharraf is not making the transition to democracy smooth.

If there is any sinister design in following such a course, it will be highly regrettable. People remember the 1970 election as free and fair and give credit to General Yahya Khan but they also remember that he refused to accept the mandate and the consequences were disastrous for the country. The president should now change course and accept the people’s verdict.

Egos should not play any role at this time of national reconciliation.

I have several questions from the politicians and some of the journalists. They are corrupt people, therefore, they will not anwser my questions.

Dear Sir, situation in our areas is very very critical as the terrorists have still been ruling the areas. The US must tell Musharraf and army leadership to take practical steps for elimination of terrorists. They must be directed to at least to abandon the idea of making deal with terrorists or Taliban in tribal areas as they are criminals and there is no justification for making deal with terrorists. Terrorists should be dealt as criminals.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan