The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Talks failure does not deter pro-Pervez party

Islamabad, Nov. 18 (Reuters): Pakistan’s pro-military party was confident today of forming a coalition government despite talks breaking down with an Islamic alliance which holds the balance of power in the deadlocked parliament.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussein, a senior leader of the pro-military Pakistan Muslim League, said his party would tap other allies or try to revive talks with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the umbrella alliance of Islamic parties.

“The talks have deadlocked, but we will still hold talks with MMA and other political parties,” Hussein told reporters after the coalition discussions derailed over how much power President Pervez Musharraf should wield.

News of the failed talks came a day before the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, was due to elect its speaker and deputy speaker, key steps toward the election of a Prime Minister and a return to civilian rule after Musharraf's October 1999 coup.

The six-party Islamic alliance said the two sides were unable to agree on the powers Musharraf should have over a civilian parliament, powers the alliance would like to limit.

“We have to say this with disappointment that our efforts were not successful,” the MMA said in a statement.

It had held talks late last night with the Pakistan Muslim League.

The Right-wing Islamists, who surprisingly won 60 seats in an October election riding a wave of anti-US sentiment, hold the balance of power.

The pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League, despite winning 118 seats, needs their support to form a strong alliance.

But the parties have failed to come to agreement because of haggling over the prime minister's post and future roles for the military and Musharraf.

These issues include Musharraf's constitutional amendments that give him power to dismiss parliament, the role of a national security council comprising military chiefs, the appointment of provincial governors, and the general's new five-year presidential term through the controversial referendum in April.

“The contacts with the (Pakistan Muslim League) have not completely ended but I think we could not convince each other on our respective points of view,” senior MMA official Hafiz Hussain Ahmed told reporters outside parliament.

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