President Musharraf’s leading opponents urged him to resign yesterday as they jockeyed for position in a new coalition government after winning parliamentary elections that dramatically altered the political landscape of Pakistan.
But the former general, who seized power in a coup in 1999, refused to quit despite unofficial election results showing that the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) had lost all but 38 of its 118 seats in Parliament.
Although official results are not expected until this evening, unofficial figures showed that the two main opposition parties had won at least 154 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won 87 seats on a wave of sympathy for Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister who led the party until she was assassinated on December 27. The runner-up, on 67 seats, was the Pakistan Muslim League (N) party led by Nawaz Sharif, another former Prime Minister who was ousted by Mr Musharraf in 1999.
The key questions now are whether the two parties can form a coalition and agree to work with Mr Musharraf or will try to remove him for imposing emergency rule last year to ensure his re-election. They must also decide whether to continue co-operating with the US and Britain in a campaign against al-Qaeda and Taleban militants near the Afghan border.