President Pervez Musharraf will pose problems for Pakistan's new coalition government, as he will try to exploit differences between the alliance partners or even use the intelligence agencies to create misunderstandings, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has said.
Khan has suggested that Asif Ali Zardari, whose Pakistan People's Party is set to form government with the backing of former premier Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, should be given amnesty in all corruption cases so that he has no qualms about reinstating the judges who were deposed during last year's emergency proclaimed by Musharraf.
The chief of the Tehrik-e-Insaf party said only an independent judiciary including the reinstated judges would be able to foster genuine democracy in Pakistan. Khan's party boycotted the February 18 general election to press for the reinstatement of the deposed judges.
Reports have suggested that Zardari is not keen on reinstating the judges as they could repeal the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a controversial law passed by Musharraf to give the PPP co-chairman and his slain wife Benazir Bhutto amnesty in graft cases.
"More than the (new) alliance is the critical issue (of) what do they do with Musharraf? If Musharraf stays, they have got problems because sooner or later Musharraf will be able to exploit their differences. He will be able to use the (intelligence) agencies to create differences," Khan told interviewer Karan Thapar on the 'Devil's Advocate' programme.
"So, in order to become the power-broker, he is not going to allow them to function properly. The first challenge must be to restore the judiciary and deal with Musharraf."
Khan noted that the "people came out to vote against Musharraf" in the polls. "The reason why the PPP did not get a two-thirds majority after Benazir Bhutto's assassination was because they dilly-dallied, they kept playing the American game and did not target Musharraf, neither did they want the judges reinstated," the former Pakistani cricketer said.
"This is the fatal mistake they committed. The PPP would have had a two-thirds majority, not just a majority. And what happened was that Nawaz Sharif with his clear stand against Musharraf and for the judges...Everyone just went (and voted) for him.
"If today the PPP does not take a stand, they are going against the public mandate." Khan said it was "critical" for Zardari to realise that Musharraf "has the ability to unravel this coalition".
"If Zardari does not make the right choices right now, he is going to be in trouble in six months. If his government is considered a stooge of the US, that finishes his ability to hold dialogue with the Taliban, the people from the tribal areas because anyone (who is) pro-American is not going to have the credibility to talk to them. (The militancy) can only be solved through talks," he said.
Khan agreed that an amnesty for Zardari in exchange for the PPP-led government reinstating the deposed judges would be a "small price to pay".
He said: "For the sake of Pakistan, we could give him some amnesty or something from corruption cases so he can get along with governance."
Khan also warned that people would take to the streets if the judges were not reinstated as civil society groups, the All Parties Democratic Movement and Sharif's PML-N had pledged to restore the pre-emergency judiciary.
"If (deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry) is not reinstated, we are out in the streets. So (Zardari) is going to have a really bad start in the government," he said.