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No easy path to Pakistan reforms

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan's main ruling party is proposing major constitutional changes that would curb the dwindling authority of President Pervez Musharraf. But winning agreement will be difficult and could strain an already fraying coalition government.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, the draft amendments would, among other changes, end presidential power to declare war and reverse Musharraf's firing of senior judges — an action last year that, along with increasing violence by Islamic militants, caused his popularity to slide.

The new civilian government, led by the party of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, took power two months ago after defeating Musharraf's allies in parliamentary elections, ending eight years of military domination.

But while the coalition partners remain united in their animosity toward the U.S.-backed Musharraf, forging quick agreement on the proposed 80 constitutional amendments appears unrealistic.

Changes to the constitution require a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, a tough threshold even if the four coalition parties reach consensus on amendments. Together they don't even have a simple majority in the upper house.

The government also has other distractions. It is struggling to cool inflation and alleviate electric power shortages, and it is drawing international criticism for striking deals with Taliban militants in Pakistan's restive tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.

No easy path to Pakistan reforms 06/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 10:16am]
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