Pakistan opposition party issues deadline for reforms

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s main opposition party Tuesday gave Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani 72 hours to agree to reforms or risk bringing down his government.

“We are putting forward an interim agenda and demand the government accept or reject it within 72 hours,” Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and former two-time prime minister, said after a meeting of senior members of his party.

Asked by reporters what would happen if the deadline were not met, he said: “If the government says no to our demands, then I think it will be a very weak government.

“But we need a strong government, and I think for this, we may need the fresh mandate from the people,” he said.

The party demanded the cancellation of a recent increase in petroleum prices, reform of government departments and a 30-percent reduction in public spending that does not benefit the people of Pakistan.

The PML-N has held the balance of power since a major party defected Sunday from the coalition of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

The PML-N is the largest opposition party with 91 seats in the 342-member lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.

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