Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari – the two leaders of the ruling coalition that split Monday – will battle for influence in next week's presidential election.
Hopes for much-needed political stability in Pakistan have crumbled along with its ruling coalition. Following Nawaz Sharif's exit from the government Monday, the political stage looks set to be dominated by a power struggle, which will draw attention away from antimilitant efforts and a faltering economy.
Only a week after it celebrated the resignation of former president Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's fractious coalition broke when former prime minister Mr. Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), stormed out on the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). He blames his former coalition partner for repeatedly reneging on its promise to reinstate 60 judges suspended by Mr. Musharraf last year.
Sharif was also angered by an announcement that Asif Ali Zardari, chairman of the PPP and widower of its former leader, Benazir Bhutto, would stand for president. The coalition partners had agreed to back a nonpartisan candidate until the presidents' powers were constitutionally pared down.
Observers had hoped Mr. Zardari and Sharif, who represent different constituencies, would counterbalance each other. But Zardari looks set to grab as much power as he can while Sharif will seek to undermine him in opposition.