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Court ruling weakens hold of U.S.-backed president

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s top court struck down an amnesty Wednesday that had protected U.S.-allied President Asif Ali Zardari from corruption charges, setting the stage for political turmoil at a time when America seeks a united front against militants along the Afghan border.

The ruling is a major blow to the desperately unpopular Zardari and could mark the beginning of his downfall, analysts said. While he is immune from prosecution as president, Zardari’s opponents plan to challenge his eligibility to hold the post.

A political crisis could complicate U.S. efforts to encourage Pakistan to step up military operations against al-Qaida-linked extremists. Effective action against those militant groups is seen by the U.S. as a linchpin of its war strategy.


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