Bhutto's party meets to nominate next prime minister of Pakistan
With leadership still in limbo, parliament plans to convene later this month.
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The jockeying comes as militants step up a suicide-bombing campaign, amid a possible military cease-fire with key militant leaders in Pakistan's tribal areas. The Christian Science Monitor reported this week that four bombs in five days have unnerved Pakistanis after relative calm during and after the elections. The targets have included members of the security forces and tribal elders at a public meeting.Skip to next paragraph
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What is clear is that the attacks are turning more Pakistanis against militants, whose actions were sometimes cast as freedom fighters against the United States in Afghanistan.
"It is leading to enormous public revulsion and a backlash against militants," says [Ahmed] Rashid, the Taliban expert, who lives in Lahore.
On the streets of Lahore, however, Pakistanis are drawing their own conclusions from the bombings. Not surprisingly, it is the same message they tried to send in the election: Mr. Musharraf is the problem, and he needs to go to save the country.
The Los Angeles Times says that Musharraf has struggled to contain Islamic extremists in the tribal belt and halt the rising tide of violence spreading across the country, including Islamabad. Neither attempted peace deals nor military offensives have managed to stop the insurgency from spreading, to the dismay of US policymakers.
Most Pakistanis abhor the violence gripping their nation, but many are critical of the harsh military crackdown on the tribal areas, which they see as Musharraf doing the bidding of U.S. officials.
Wednesday's court ruling allowed Zardari to clear his name over domestic corruption cases. But other international cases still hang over his head, including a Swiss probe into money laundering. The BBC reported last year that in 2003 a Geneva court convicted Bhutto and Zardari of laundering over $15 million in kickbacks from Swiss companies who had received government contracts in Pakistan.
The court in Geneva sentenced the two defendants in absentia to 180 days in prison and ordered the return of $12 million to Pakistan's government. The defendents contested the ruling, though. Even if Pakistan stops cooperating with the court to chase the missing the money, the Swiss case would not automatically end, the BBC reported.