ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Three years after a military coup, Pakistan began a shaky return to democratic rule on Saturday with the swearing in of an elected parliament.
But President Pervez Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S.-led campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban, remains the most powerful figure in the country, with the authority to dismiss the legislature if it steps out of line. He was sworn in for a five-year term earlier in the day.
Legislators briefly debated the wisdom of taking the oath of office under a constitution that had been changed by the military president. But in the end they did, raising their hands and vowing to uphold the constitution.
It still isn't known who will form Pakistan's government, since general elections last month did not give any one party a clear majority.
Musharraf has won praise abroad for his role in the war against al-Qaida and in dismantling the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. But the army general, who ousted a civilian, elected government in 1999, has been under international pressure to return Pakistan to democratic rule.
The largest bloc in the legislature is the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League-Qaid-e-Azam group, which controls 103 seats in the 342-seat lower house. Exiled prime minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's party has the next largest number of seats with 80, and right-wing religious parties control 59 seats.
Independents and other smaller parties hold 100 seats.
The election of the Parliament's Speaker of the House will take place on Monday. Meanwhile, politicians are trying to cobble together a governing coalition.
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