Pakistani Aides Say Govt Seeking Deal With Opposition to End Crisis

Zardari Under Pressure From PM, Army Chief to End Crackdown

by Jason Ditz, March 13, 2009

Aides to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari say they are making progress toward a resolution of the political crisis which has lead to the imposition of emergency rule across much of the nation and has brought hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest. Though the opposition would not comment the aides say the deal may involve returning the Punjab Provincial government, seized by Zardari last month, to the Pakistani Muslim League-N (PML-N).

Though officially Zardari says his sudden change of heart is based on the nation’s charter of democracy, media reports suggest he is under intensive pressure from both Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and Chief of Army Staff Parvez Kayani to resolve the situation.

Gen. Kayani has tried to break with the Pakistani military’s history of intervention in government policies, but US Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen says Kayani has expressed private exasperation a number of times over the behavior of the civilian government. Mullen says he does not believe a coup is imminent, yet as the military is increasingly turned inward against peaceful protesters, it seems that the Pakistani general may soon find himself faced with a decision he has long sought to avoid.

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