Minus one Zardari to go

Pakistan army and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have asked President Asif Ali Zardari to go if he does not accept a new deal hatched by them in consultation with foreign powers.

The new political deal, backed by Washington, London and the army establishment, has quietly been conveyed to Pakistan PM Gilani, to bring down the political temperature in the country.

As part of the deal, the PM has been asked to immediately convince Zardari to demonstrate the flexibility required to break the present deadlock, before the ‘Long March’ reaches Islamabad.

Gilani has reportedly been given 24 hours to convince Zardari into agreeing to the new political and constitutional arrangement, as further delay will not produce any positive results for the political forces currently on the warpath.

The ball is now firmly in the court of President Zardari, who has to take a decision swiftly on endorsing the agreement brokered by powerful international actors.

If Zardari does not accept the new deal then:

* Army, foreign powers will be left with no option but to implement ‘minus-one formula’
* Presidents office will be completely marginalised, Zardari will be removed
* Gilani will take over as power will be restored to PM office
* Nawaz Sharif’s PML(N) will join the cabinet
* Deposed SC chief Justice Iftikar Chaudhary will be reappointed.

Terms of the deal are:
* Pak PM Gilani has been asked to convince Zardari to accept the new political and constitutional arrangement
* The deal also states the removal of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who is an obstacle to good relations between the PPP and the PML(N)
* Implementation of the new Constitutional package through the Parliament
* The deal also demands the restoration of Supreme Court Justice Ifthikar Chaudhary.

Since March 11, there have been a series of meetings that have shaped this deal.

The Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met PM Gilani in Islamabad on March 11, where in the ninety minute meeting the former essentially told the latter to set the deal in motion.

On Thursday, the US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson met former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The reason ostensibly was after Sharif alleged that there was a plot to assassinate him.

Meanwhile, the PM has not met the president after he returned from his trip to Dubai. He has however been talking to the President over the phone.

UK foreign secretary David Miliband also telephoned President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the present situation on Thursday.

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