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Sharif’s move confuses Pak opposition

Pakistan's opposition political alliance is in disarray after Nawaz Sharif announced that his party would go ahead and contest the polls, reports Kamal Siddiqui.

world Updated: Dec 12, 2007 02:20 IST
Kamal Siddiqui

Pakistan's opposition political alliance is in disarray after Nawaz Sharif announced that his party would go ahead and contest the polls.

"He has finally realised that he does not have a chance in hell to be the next PM so he might as well fight for maximum seats in parliament," commented political analyst Muhammad Shahid.

The move strengthens the government's plans to hold elections in January and puts more pressure on other parties, particularly Benazir Bhutto's PPP, to stay in the race. It is also a blow to the plans of the opposition political alliances, the All Parties Democratic Movement headed by Sharif and the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy which was supported by Bhutto to boycott polls and put pressure on the government.

Analysts see a dim chance of either Bhutto or Sharif’s win. Also, the draconian article 58-2-B under which a president can dismiss an elected government remains in place, giving President Musharraf the final say.

Some political commentators argue that the decision to contest elections may well be part of an understanding that Musharraf and Sharif may have reached. This understanding, possibly cobbled together by the Saudis, allowed Mian Sharif to return to Pakistan and give legitimacy to the government's political exercise by letting his party participate.