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Friday, March 13, 2009

Army gives Pak PM 24 hrs to 'convince' Zardari
Agencies Posted online: Mar 13, 2009 at 1737 hrs
Islamabad : In a bid to bring down the "political temperature", Pakistan's army along with the US and UK has backed a new deal giving a 24-hour deadline to Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani to "convince" President Asif Ali Zardari to defuse the situation, a media report said on Friday.
The deal has been "quietly" conveyed to Gilani, who has been asked to immediately convince the beleaguered President to "demonstrate the flexibility required to break the present deadlock" before the long march by the lawyers' movement and opposition parties for reinstatement of sacked judges reaches Islamabad on March 16, 'The News' daily reported.
As part of the "new political deal" aimed at bringing down the political temperature, Gilani was "given 24 hours to convince Zardari into agreeing to the new political and constitutional arrangement" as any delay will not produce positive results from "political forces currently on the war path," the report said.
After several rounds of talks with key political players, the US and British envoys came up with the "new formula to bring the perilous situation under control," it said.
Gilani was "tasked with taking Zardari into confidence on the salient features of the accord."
Punjab Governor Salman Taseer would be a "likely casualty of the deal" and he "might be shown the door," the report said.
Like Zardari, Taseer is seen as a major hurdle to the normalisation of the working relationship between the PPP and the PML-N.
The report said the ball was "now firmly in the court of President Zardari, who has to take a decision swiftly on endorsing the agreement."
The Pakistan Army will act as a guarantor of the arrangement's success, The News quoted unnamed sources as saying.
The sources claimed Gilani, army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the Americans and British were in favour of the new political pact, with Zardari's fate largely depending on his decision to accept or reject the accord.
A new constitutional package would be part of the deal between the PPP and the PML-N. Major irritants will be removed through parliament, with the US favouring the political order in place in Islamabad and Punjab province as a result of last year's general election.
The sources also said Kayani told Gilani during a 90-minute meeting yesterday to get the new arrangements through within 48 hours. In the light of his deliberations with Kayani, Gilani was expected to hold a "decisive round of talks" with Zardari, the report said.
An official familiar with the developments said the top military leadership was of the view that the time had come to "marginalise" the President. Certain measures were needed to create a balance of power, he said.

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