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Pakistan: The day after Musharraf

world Updated: Aug 20, 2008 01:44 IST
Kamran Haider

A day after President Pervez Musharraf quit, leaders of Pakistan’s fractious coalition government squabbled over the judiciary on Tuesday underscoring the challenges facing the nation.

Coalition leaders, who campaigned against Musharraf, met for several hours to set about tackling pressing economic and security problems and to discuss a new president but got bogged down over the fate of judges Musharraf purged last year.

Sharif, who heads the second biggest party in the coalition, has been insisting the judges be restored to office.

But the party leading the coalition, that of the assassinated Bhutto, has wavered, partly because the deposed chief justice might take up challenges to an amnesty from graft charges granted party leaders last year, analysts say.

Leaders of two small parties in the four-party alliance played down the dispute but said they had been given three days to resolve the problem between the big parties.

“We have been assigned to reach a consensus on the situation within the next 72 hours,” Fazal-ur-Rehman, leader of a small religious party, told reporters.

Prolonged wrangling over Musharraf’s position before he quit had already hurt financial markets in the country of 165 million people, and raised concern in Washington it distracted from Islamabad’s efforts to tackle militants.

Musharraf’s resignation lifted Pakistan shares and the rupee on Monday and again on Tuesday when stocks jumped as much as 3.2 percent as investors cheered the end of political uncertainty over Musharraf’s role as president.

However, divisive questions still hang over Musharraf’s future. There was no announcement on whether he would get immunity from prosecution and be allowed to live freely in Pakistan. Sharif has insisted he face trial for treason. Bhutto’s party says parliament should decide.

Law Minister Farooq H. Naek told reporters there had been no resignation deal with Musharraf.