WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States is quietly pushing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to share power with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, The New York Times reported in Thursday editions, citing U.S. and Pakistani officials.
Musharraf, who is preparing to seek a second term in office, is facing a deepening political crisis that had him on the brink of declaring a state of emergency last week.
U.S. officials believe that an alliance with Bhutto could give Musharaff his best chance of defusing the domestic crisis and remaining as president, the newspaper reported, citing officials who asked not be identified.
Bush administration officials have said they fear that Musharraf could eventually be toppled and replaced by someone who might be less a less reliable U.S. ally against terrorism, the Times said.
Musharraf has been dealing with a wave of militant attacks and public unrest over his attempt to dismiss Pakistan’s top judge.
U.S. and Pakistani officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the idea of a power-sharing arrangement when she called Musharraf last week to warn him not to declare emergency powers, the newspaper reported.
The report also said that Bhutto had been holding talks in recent weeks with senior Bush administration officials, including U.N. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
U.S. officials say that the complexity of Pakistani politics makes it difficult to predict what shape a political deal could take, the Times reported.