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Monday, September 17, 2007

Pakistan’s poker-game - Irfan Hussain

The cards in hand

In the worst scenario, Musharraf might impose martial law for a brief period, and use the resulting suspension of the constitution definitively to rid himself of the chief justice - whom he abruptly suspended on 9 March 2007, provoking widespread popular protests and an ultimately successful legal challenge - as well as five of his equally independent colleagues. After this show of force, the president would hold elections (a month-long window for which opens on 15 September) that would be engineered to produce a hung parliament, with seats divided between the ruling (pro-Musharraf) Quaid-e-Azam (Pakistan Muslim League / PML-Q), Benazir Bhutto's PPP, the Karachi-based ethnic Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and the clerical coalition of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). Such a dispensation would allow Musharraf to manipulate the divisions in the opposition to rule for another five years.

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