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Pakistan's collapsed coalition
What happens after anti-Musharraf leaders split?
W

hat happened
Pakistan’s coalition government collapsed on Monday when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif announced that members of his Pakistan Muslim League would drop out of the alliance. The news came a week after Pervez Musharraf resigned as president under threat of impeachment. (Bloomberg)

What the commentators said
So much for the “euphoria” created by Musharraf’s departure, said Zahid Hussain in the British Times Online. The coalition was united by the goal of getting rid of the “former military strongman,” but the fight over who should replace him has left the government “in tatters’’ just two weeks ahead of the presidential election.

This “new power struggle” was inevitable, said Myra MacDonald in a Reuters blog. With Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, staking a claim to the presidency, Sharif figured his rival was trying to “garner more power and delay the restoration of judges sacked by Musharraf in November.” The question is whether this battle signals the revival of democracy or the end of hope for post-Musharraf Pakistan.

The coalition has “bickered, quarrelled, and basically done everything but govern the country since it took power” in February, said Blake Hounshell in Foreign Policy’s Passport blog. But this is where things really get complicated. At first glance, however, it looks like Zardari has enough seats in the National Assembly to cobble together a new government, for now.

That’s true, said Jane Perlez in The New York Times, but the infighting means the country faces “continued political instability.” That could “distract from serious governance,” and dash U.S. hopes for “serious efforts to turn back the growing strength of the Taliban in the northwestern parts of the nation.”

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