New Delhi: President Asif Ali Zardari is facing a series of problems in Pakistan.
Reports on Monday claimed that Zardari has been given an ultimatum by Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani to clear up the country's political mess or face a more assertive army. Media reports suggested that Kayani was acting on America’s advice.
Following Kayani's reported ultimatum, Pakistan is now abuzz with speculation that the army may take over again.
PARALLEL POWER CENTRE: Reports claim General Ashfaq Kayani was acting on America's advice.
Meanwhile, almost on cue retired army chief and former president Pervez Musharraf indicated that he would be willing to step into the current President's shoes.
“If it is being offered and if I can be a useful president then I want to contribute to the country,” Musharraf said.
The former president also slammed the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) for defaming the army and ISI. He asked all Pakistanis to support the institutions which, he believed, had a critical role to play in “saving the country.”
Zardari is also feeling the heat from the supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who is planning a protest march from Islamabad to Lahore next week.
But Zardari has been told to reach out to Sharif by March 16, the day the former prime minister plans to lead a long march with the opposition and lawyers to Islamabad.
“The courts are not Zardari's personal property. If he wants Pakistan to be a better place then he should support me,” Sharif said while addressing his supporters.
But soon after, Zardari got a top aide to warn Sharif that he will be charged with sedition if he went ahead with his plans. “He (Sharif) should leave the politics of treason and confrontation. If he takes the law into his hands then the law will be forced to act,” Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said.
The political situation in Pakistan is far from being under control. However, Musharraf's hopes of becoming president may just be wishful thinking and the army is still too discredited to attempt direct rule.
But history does tend to repeat itself, especially in Pakistan unless one or both men choose to step back from the brink.
(With inputs from Shuchi Yadav)