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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pakistan Assembly Moves Forward

George Wenschhof

Yesterday, the Pakistan Assembly elected Fehmida Mirza as their first woman as Speaker. She easily defeated Chaudry Hussain with a vote count of 249 - 70. Here is a good read by

She is a member of the Pakistan's People's Party (PPL-Bhutto) and Hussain was a representative of the Pakistan Muslim League - Q (PML-Q), the party that supports President Mussharraf.

Electing a Prime Minister is the next step and there appears to be some glitches between Asif Ali Zardari (husband of the deceased Benazir Bhutto) co-leader of the PPL and his new ally Nawaz Sharif who is head of the Pakistan Muslim League -N (PPL-N).

The initial candidate that Zardari wanted to put forward was Makdoom Amin Fahim but this person does not have the support of Sharif.

Neither Zardari or Sharif are eligible to run for they are not a member of the elected assembly. Interestingly, both of these individuals have their own issues as Sharif was ousted by Musharraf in a bloodless coup and Zardari who as husband of the late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was given the name "Mr. 10%" for the fee he allegedly charged to anyone wanting to do business with the government.

While the victory margin in the election of Mirza as Speaker indicates a two-thirds majority in the assembly, Pakistan also has a 100 member senate.

This is important for the newly elected representatives want to reinstate the judges who were removed by Musharraf and they wish to amend the constitution. The end result of those actions would most likely result in the removal of Musharraf as President. These changes will require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of government.

The United States under the Bush administration, has been a staunch ally of Musharraf with unaccounted for billions continuing to flow from the U.S. to Pakistan. The Bush administration continues to hold out hope that a power sharing agreement can be established that includes Musharraf yet they they are caught in a quandary of also having to support democratic reforms in Pakistan.

Stay tuned for there is certainly more to this story.

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