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New Pakistani Government Questions U.S. War on Terror

March 26, 2008 03:24 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Members of Pakistan’s new government had stern words for the U.S. State Department yesterday after the swearing in of the new prime minister.

30-Second Summary

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“There is a new sheriff in town,” Pakistani adviser Husain Haqqani told The New York Times.

Yousef Raza Gillani took office as prime minister Tuesday. His party, the PPP, until recently led by assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, won the most seats in Pakistan’s parliamentary elections in February. The PPP has since formed a coalition with the Pakistan Muslim League led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

After Gillani’s inauguration, Sharif expressed dissatisfaction with President Pervez Musharraf’s tactics during the war on terror, in which Pakistan has played a central role, and the president’s close relationship with the U.S. military. Sharif said, “It is unacceptable that while giving peace to the world we make our own country a killing field.”

Musharraf has been a key U.S. ally in the region. His defeat in the parliamentary election threatens to marginalize him, and the opposition coalition would like to see his role become primarily symbolic.

Gillani’s decision to release the judges detained by Musharraf last year, made soon after taking office, promises further resistance to the president’s rule.

While not a member of parliament, Bhutto’s widower Asif Zardari remains the chairman of the PPP. If Zardari became eligible for the position of prime minister, many think Gillani would step aside to prevent party divisions.

A number of analysts have highlighted the fact that the democratic elections represent a promising change in Pakistan’s development. “The possibility that Pakistan’s political leaders have recognized the need to put national interest ahead of their own selfish motives seems more real than ever before,” writes Kamila Hyat in Pakistan’s News International.

Headline Links: There is a ‘new sheriff’ in Pakistan

Background: Gillani frees chief justice and the war on terror

Opinion & Analysis: The elections, the war on terror and Gillani’s future

Historical Context: U.S.-Pakistan relations

Reference: Pakistan and the PPP

Key Players: Yusuf Raza Gillani, Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari

Yusuf Raza Gillani
Benazir Bhutto (1953–2007)
Asif Ali Zardari
The Bhutto dynasty
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