After Bhutto, Musharraf looks toward MMA


Islamabad : The dialogue with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto having all but collapsed, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s aides are now looking toward the opposition Muttahida Majlis-e Amal (MMA) religious alliance to bail the general out of the impasse that is developing over his re-election.

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Should these talks fail, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz could recommend the dissolution of the National Assembly and the imposition of an emergency, a media report Sunday said.

Daily Times quoted an unnamed official as saying that the government was in touch with the MMA and its leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman for re-electing the president “to avoid dissolution of assemblies and imposition of an emergency”.

“The final decision on a dissolution of the National Assembly will be taken if talks with the MMA also fail,” the official said.

The dissolution of the National Assembly would, under the constitution, allow the government to hold general elections within 90 days, the official maintained.

“The election can be held within 45 to 60 days and can also be dragged beyond 90 days on the pretext of the flood situation in Balochistan and on-going war on terror in the tribal areas,” the official was quoted as saying, even as he added that the government essentially had four options before it.

“The first option is to dissolve the National Assembly, the second option is to impose an emergency, the third option is to dissolve all assemblies and the fourth and the last option is to impose martial law.”

As for the talks with the MMA, ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) president Shujaat Hussain on Saturday met Fazlur Rehman and North West Frontier Province Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani to discuss the situation following the stalling of the government-Bhutto talks.

Neither side revealed what was discussed, but it is believed Shujaat sought Rehman’s help in stopping Bhutto from returning to power, while the cleric insisted he could not support the president’s re-election in uniform, Daily Times said.

At the same time, Shujaat said it would be premature to say that doors for talks with Bhutto had closed.

“The next two to three days are very important,” he maintained.