Army, US ultimatums force Zardari to relent | world | Hindustan Times
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Army, US ultimatums force Zardari to relent

world Updated: Mar 14, 2009 02:28 IST

Buckling under intense pressure, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday decided to lift governor’s rule in Punjab and allow the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to form the government in the politically crucial province.

<b1>Zardari had been put on notice by the US, which reportedly gave him a 24-hour ultimatum to ease the crisis in Pakistan amid speculation that a deal brokered by Washington and the UK with the army had been conveyed to the government.

After back-to-back meetings with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, Zardari was ready “in principle” to end governor’s rule in Punjab, imposed on February 25 after the Supreme Court barred PML-N leaders Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif from holding elected office, the Dawn News channel quoted official sources as saying.

A statement issued by the presidency said Zardari and Kayani discussed the “regional security situation and professional matters”. The army chief met Gilani as well.

However, Zardari was not prepared to show any “flexibility” on reinstating judges deposed by former President Pervez Musharraf during the 2007 emergency, the sources said. Sharif accused Zardari of fighting democracy, not terrorism.