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Pak PM hints at clipping Musharraf's powers

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
April 14, 2008 20:42 IST
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Pakistan's new government on Monday said it will create a balance between the powers of the President and the parliament, hinting at plans aimed at taming Pervez Musharraf.

"We will create a balance in the powers of the President and the parliament to ensure the proper working of democratic institutions," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani told a delegation of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society.

It is the government's strong desire to ensure democracy in the country and uphold the supremacy of the parliament while ensuring the independence of the judiciary, Election Commission and media, he said at the Prime Minister's House.

Gillani's Pakistan People's Party has so far indicated that it desires to forge a working relationship with the increasingly unpopular President Pervez Musharraf.

However, Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N, a key ally in the PPP-led ruling coalition, has called on Musharraf to step down following the defeat of his supporters in the general election.

Musharraf has been increasingly sidelined since Gillani's government assumed office last month, but the coalition does not possess the two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament that is required to impeach the President.

Relations between Musharraf and the PML-N are particularly strained. PML-N leaders wore black armbands when they were sworn in as ministers by the President and ministers from the party refused to accompany the President on his ongoing state visit to China.

The PPP and the PML-N are expected to decide on measures to curb the President's sweeping powers, including the power to dissolve the parliament and dismiss the prime minister, in the coming weeks.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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