05/13/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Muslim League withdraws its ministers, plunging Pakistan government into crisis

Out of 24 ministers nine are quitting over the failure to reinstate judges sacked by Musharraf. There is particular concern over the finance minister who was supposed to present the annual budget in a few weeks time.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif pulled his party out of Pakistan's coalition government, plunging the volatile Muslim nation back into political uncertainty. The failure to agree on the reinstatement of 60 judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf in November was the main reason. Formal resignations are expected today. At least nine of the 24 members of the six-week old cabinet belonged to the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). However, Mr Sharif said his party would continue to support the government led by the Pakistan People’s Party despite quitting the cabinet.

The decision has raised concern in the country’s business community. Among the ministers quitting there is Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who was due to present the annual budget in weeks. Without this step the country risks sliding deeper into economic problems.

“It's a sad day for Pakistan,” said political analyst Shafqat Mahmood. “The people of Pakistan wanted this coalition to take forward the democratic process, restore the judiciary and, eventually, get rid of Musharraf.” And in the People’s party may lose the trust of the people because of these divisions.

For many the failure to agree lies in the strong opposition by Asif Ali Zardari (husband of the late Benazir Bhutto) who is afraid of corruption charges still pending on him.

Sharif’s decision to pull his ministers out of the cabinet came the same day the Commonwealth decided to re-admit Pakistan, suspended last year when Musharraf declared emergency rule.

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