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Pak speculates if Kayani, Pasha will quit

world Updated: Dec 27, 2011 00:53 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
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As Pakistan's political stand-off continues, the biggest question on everybody's mind is whether Generals Kayani and Pasha will also have to leave alongwith President Zardari, who seems to be on his way out. In fact, rumours are circulating in the capital that Zardari may make an important announcement on Tuesday on the occasion of Benazir Bhutto's death anniversary. He may well resign say some insiders but there are no such indications evident say others.

On Monday, at least two major newspapers printed stories that quoted unnamed sources as saying that the army leadership would approach the supreme court if the government moves to sack them. Under the constitution, President Zardari is empowered to sack the army chief. However, there is no such precedence. In 1999, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sacked General Musharraf in 1999, his government was itself overthrown.

In the past, the Supreme court has validated military takeovers in Pakistan. Also, the courts are at loggerheads with President Zardari who they say played a part in not restoring the present chief justice to his post after he was ousted by President Musharraf.

Over the past couple of months, Pakistan's political landscape has changed considerably. The tensions between the ruling party and the army, which were brought about by the memogate affair, have paved the way for other players to jockey for position. However, the biggest surprise has been the rising popularity of Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which has seen a number of key political figures joining over the past month.

Analysts say that the Tehreek-e-Insaf will dent the vote bank of both the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and the opposition PML-N party. Ironically, the third largest party in the country - the Karachi-based MQM has welcome the entry of Imran Khan and even congratulated him on his Sunday rally in Karachi. They seem to have some understanding in place.

While Imran Khan continues to make waves, the political future of the larger parties is now under question, say analysts. On Sunday, the representatives of some of the major parties in the country met to come up with an action plan on how to counter the Tehreek-e-Insaf. Without agreeing to any electoral alliances, they laid the ground for possible seat adjustments and compromise candidates so that the Tehreek does not cut into their vote banks.

In a significant move, both President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani sent bouquets to opposition leader Nawaz Sharif on Sunday to wish him on his birthday. This is the first time in the past three years they have made this gesture, say PML-N supporters. The mood, they say, is of compromise, because both Zardari and Sharif feel that Imran Khan is getting support from the country's powerful establishment.