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Pakistan leaders agree on coalition

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  • Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto's widower agree on parliamentary coalition
  • They want to reappoint Supreme Court justices fired by President Musharraf
  • Musharraf says he is ready to work with new parliament
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two leading figures in Pakistani politics said Thursday their parties will work together in the national parliament after scoring big wins in elections earlier this week.

Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari shake hands on their deal to rule by 'national consensus.'

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, called the deal a "national consensus" and said it would extend into provincial assemblies.

Zardari said Thursday that he and Sharif "intend to stay together in parliament."

A spokesman for Musharraf has said the president is willing to work with other political parties, but Zardari said Musharraf's input is not welcome.

And Sharif asked sarcastically: "What help do we need from Musharraf?" Video Watch how the deal will work »

Parliamentary elections took place Monday, and even though formal results have not been announced, it was clear from preliminary Election Commission results that Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, now headed by Zardari, and Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N dominated.

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The commission said the PPP received 86 seats for the 342-seat National Assembly; the PML-N, 66; and the PML-Q, which backs President Pervez Musharraf, 40.

If the two leading opposition parties can fold smaller groups and independent candidates into their coalition, they could gain the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to impeach Musharraf.

Sharif said they have already talked to the ANP, a leftist nationalist secular party mostly centered in the North-West Frontier Province.

The election result has also raised questions for the U.S. which considers Musharraf an ally in its war on terror.

Washington, so far, does not know what emphasis the new parliament will place on counterterror, especially as many Pakistanis disapproved of the way Musharraf has used the "war on terror" to explain many of his unpopular moves. Video Watch how the U.S. is rethinking its Pakistan policy »

Sharif wants Musharraf -- who deposed and exiled him in a 1999 bloodless coup -- to step down. Musharraf has said he intends to remain in office and work with the new government.

Sharif and Zardari want to reappoint Pakistan's Supreme Court justices, especially Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who were ousted by Musharraf on November 3 when he imposed a countrywide state of emergency.

The opposition leaders said details of how the justices will be reappointed will be worked out when the parliament convenes.

Musharraf also suspended Pakistan's constitution and blacked out independent TV outlets, actions that Sharif and Zardari said they intend to reverse.

Pakistan's current political turmoil began in March 2007 when Musharraf suspended Chaudhry, accusing him of misusing his powers.

The move triggered countrywide protests and accusations that the leader was trying to influence the Supreme Court's ruling on whether he could run for another five-year term under Pakistan's constitution.

Earlier Thursday, police in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi baton-charged and tear-gassed a lawyers' rally, arresting about a dozen lawyers and wounding more than 20, the city's bar association told CNN.


The lawyers were trying to block a road and disrupt court proceedings, police said. Capt. Mohammad Tahir Naveed confirmed the arrests, saying the demonstrators were picked up for disturbing the peace.

Lawyers in Pakistan have staged weekly protests every Thursday to demand that the government reinstate the judges Musharraf dismissed. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About PakistanPervez MusharrafNawaz SharifBenazir BhuttoAl Qaeda

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