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Ruling Party Defeat in Pakistan May Intensify Pressure on Musharraf

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf conceded defeat Tuesday after his party lost to the opposition Pakistan People's Party in Monday's parliamentary elections. Two Pakistan experts consider what the election may mean for both Pakistan and the United States.

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    Next, the Pakistani elections. Independent Television News correspondent Kylie Morris reports from Islamabad.

  • KYLIE MORRIS, ITV News Correspondent:

    Music and even flowers for the candidates who seat by seat has undone the absolute power of President Pervez Musharraf. Here in Rawalpindi, now a Sharif man has unseated a former Musharraf minister and finds his victory easy to explain.

    Why do you think your party has done so well?


    Because of President Musharraf policies, internal and external.


    So it's all about President Musharraf? It's all about what he's done?


    Yes, yes.


    Whether it was the economy or the insurgency, the killing of Benazir Bhutto, or the state of emergency, all through the night President Musharraf hemorrhaged support. It only took hours for the opposition celebration to begin.

    Last week, the president called these the mother of all elections. But he couldn't have known at the time they would herald his rejection.

    In the cold, hard light of the new day, there was new details. The religious parties in the country's badlands had also done badly, replaced by secular nationalists. But now the dancing's done and the hard work begins.

    (inaudible) follow the convoy today, as negotiators shuttled between one another's houses to start the horse trading.

    Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in a stronger position than anyone forecast, much to the delight of his supporters. Today he made one thing clear: He wants rid of the president, the general, who eight years ago deposed him to seize power.

    NAWAZ SHARIF, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan (through translator): Musharraf doesn't understand this decision. He's closed his eyes. He said before that he would go when the people want him to do so. Now the people have given their verdict.


    Nawaz Sharif's enmity towards the president means he's most likely to cut a deal with another former enemy, Asif Ali Zardari. Sharif once put him in jail and his wife, Benazir Bhutto, tried to do the same to Sharif. But today, all those bad times were forgotten.

  • ASIF ALI ZARDARI, Leader, Pakistan People‚Äôs Party (through translator):

    We're trying our level best to make a government of national consensus. And in this effort, we will try to include all political forces.


    President Musharraf was short of public engagements today, except for this one, meeting a delegation of high-ranking American senators who'd come to the capital to observe the elections firsthand.

    SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), Delaware: Our security rests in the vast majority of moderate Pakistanis having control of their country and their government, having a political outlet through a democratic process. That is the most significant, in this senator's view, significant way in which we can ensure that we succeed in the fight against radicalism and terror.


    Certainly for Pakistan it's all about the future and putting aside the past. Whether President Musharraf has put side, as well, we'll have to wait and see.