Pakistan's Ruling Coalition Collapses Amid Dissent
By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Foreign Service, , August 25, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 25 -- Pakistan plunged deeper into political chaos Monday as a top party in the country's coalition government vowed to quit the coalition and support an opposition candidate for the presidency.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, said he plans to vigorously oppose his one-time political partner, Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan People's Party and widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The announcement, which came a week after Pervez Musharraf resigned as Pakistan's president, set off a heated race for the presidency and raised questions about the future of the shaky alliance between the United States and Pakistan's top political leaders.
Sharif said he decided to quit the coalition government after Zardari, who assumed leadership of his party after Bhutto's assassination in December, announced plans to run for president on Saturday and reneged on a promise to reinstate dozens of judges deposed by Musharraf.
"We have been forced to take this decision, which we take with great regret," Sharif said during a nationally televised news conference in Islamabad on Monday. "Zardari pledged in writing to reinstate the judges within one day of Musharraf leaving."
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