« Representative Jim Moran on AIPAC |
Blog Home Page
| Ethanol Follies »
September 15, 2007
Benazir Bhutto Will Return to Pakistan
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto plans on returning to Pakistan in October in order to run in Parliamentary elections so that she would be eligible to return to office.
Bhutto, who is under a corruption cloud from her last term in office, failed to reach an agreement with President Pervez Musharraf regarding a power sharing arrangement that would force him to resign from the army before running for another term:
The decision to return appears to have been made without her reaching a formal power-sharing agreement with Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, party officials said. But in an indication that there was some understanding between her and the government, a presidential spokesman said there were no restrictions on her returning, implying that it was not likely that she would be threatened with arrest upon her return. Might the same fate await Bhutto as befell Sharif? Musharraf has proved unpredictable in his dance with the moderates. The problem is that the religious parties who support him are strenuously opposed to the secular Bhutto:
On Monday, another exiled former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who is a political rival of both Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf, was threatened with jail on corruption charges and then deported within hours of landing in Pakistan to attempt his own return to run in the elections.
Talks over a power-sharing deal between Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf have gone on for months, nudged by the Bush administration, in hopes of finding a way for moderate elements in Pakistan to join forces, and for General Musharraf to stay in power and for Ms. Bhutto to return and serve as prime minister. Pakistan’s intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiyani, traveled to London last month with aides of General Musharraf as the deal came close. Musharraf is extremely reluctant to give up his position of chief of staff of the army. He has already reneged once on a promise to resign back in 2001 and the snag in negotiations with Bhutto have apparently been about when the President will leave that powerful military post.
But the talks stalled 10 days ago, amid strong opposition from members of the governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League, which backs General Musharraf, as well as opposition from members of Ms. Bhutto’s own party, who feel that any deal with the unpopular general will harm their electoral standing.
But Bhutto has a powerful club that she is holding over Musharraf's head; the possibility that all the deputies in her party would resign rather than vote for another Musharraf term in office unless he resigns as COS. Such a move would cause a Parliamentary crisis in that no quorum would be able to be mustered to legitimize the presidential vote.
So at the moment, there is stalemate in the negotiations with each side wary about the other's intentions. Regardless, Bhutto will return to lead her party in the upcoming elections no matter what the president does about his position as chief of staff.