Prolonged conflict between Musharraf and opposition seen

New York, Dec 28 | Updated: Dec 29 2007, 05:37am hrs
In the wake of assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, political analysts see the possibility of a prolonged conflict between President Pervez Musharraf and opposition in Pakistan.

At the core of the problem would be the perception of the people that Musharraf did too little for the security of Bhutto, they say.

I see a lot more trouble for Musharraf in the near future, Hasan Askari Rizvi, a leading Pakistani political analyst, told the New York Times.

Musharraf, the newspaper said, remains deeply unpopular after declaring a state of emergency in November and suppressing Bhutto and his other political opponents.

Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif, the countrys other main opposition leader, is scrambling to reorganize his party after years in exile, NYT added.

Bhuttos death upends the political landscape in a country that, the Times said, has searched, often in vain, for political stability since it achieved independence 60 years ago.

Pakistani observers point out that Bhutto was shot a few yards from where the countrys first prime minister, Liaqat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951.

Since then, military coups, fixed elections and bitter political battles have marred attempts to stabilise the country, NYT noted, adding that in the current situation, it is Musharraf who faces the largest potential threat.

Analysts further said the assassination would hurt Musharraf politically and place him in one of the most difficult positions of his turbulent eight years in power.