Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Tuesday, 19 August 2008 13:48 UK

'No deal yet' in Musharraf talks

Coalition leaders Asif Ali Zardari (left) and Nawaz Sharif shake hands on 18 August at news of President Musharraf's resignation
The ruling parties must now fill the gap left by Pervez Musharraf

Leaders of Pakistan's ruling coalition have met in Islamabad to discuss who will succeed their long-time opponent, former President Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Musharraf stepped down on Monday after nine years in power to avoid a move by the government to impeach him.

The coalition, led by the parties of the late Benazir Bhutto and ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, held a first, inconclusive round of talks on Monday.

The coalition partners have agreed to meet again in three days time.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan says that it appears that the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) need more time to resolve their differences over Mr Musharraf's long-term replacement and over the reappointment of scores of judges sacked by Mr Musharraf last year.

Bloodless coup

Mr Musharraf himself has been replaced by caretaker President Muhammad Sumroo following his resignation on Monday.

President Pervez Musharraf announces his resignation

Mr Sumroo, Speaker of the senate and a political ally of Mr Musharraf, will lead the country until a new election is held by parliament.

It is unclear whether Mr Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999, will face prosecution now that he is out of power.

Leaders of the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (son of Mr Zardari and late Benazir Bhutto) met other members of the coalition in Islamabad on Tuesday to try and hammer out a deal.

Nawaz Sharif, who as PML-N leader heads the second biggest party in the coalition, was greeted by Mr Zardari and Bilawal.

Nawaz Sharif (L) and Asif Ali Zardari
The two leaders have still to hammer out a deal

Pakistan's Minister for Law, Farooq Naek, said before the negotiations that the coalition parties would make a "united decision" on the important issues.

But correspondents say that will not happen before the end of the week.

The PPP and PML-N distrust each other and have already said different things about Mr Musharraf's future, the BBC's Charles Haviland reports from Islamabad.

Mr Zardari's party said it believed Mr Musharraf might have immunity from prosecution.

But Mr Sharif's party argues he should stand trial for, among other things, abrogating the constitution.

Well known in the West for his support for the US after the 11 September 2001 attacks, President Musharraf had grown increasingly unpopular at home.

I would rather have been ruled by a democratic dictator than despotic democrats
Mehr, Lahore, Pakistan

With the government on the verge of impeaching him, the former soldier's instinct was to fight on, correspondents say, but in his lengthy address he said he was stepping down for the good of the nation.

Bilawal Bhutto said he hoped the country could move forward after Mr Musharraf's departure.

Mrs Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi in December last year.

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