No-confidence vote

Doplang News, ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistan's most powerful opposition group hinted Tuesday that it would not back a no-confidence vote against the prime minister - a stance that could save the government of this nuclear-armed nation from toppling.

The possibility of government collapse is the latest crisis facing Pakistan as it grapples with a foundering economy, relentless militant attacks and U.S. demands to help turn around the war in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, senior members of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, the leading opposition group, wouldn't say where they stood on a no-confidence vote before they convened in Islamabad to decide.

"Our aim is not to overthrow this government, but if it collapses, it will collapse because of its own incompetence and bad governance," said PML-N spokesman Sadiqul Farooq.

Gilani could rule with a minority coalition but would have to step down if he lost a no-confidence vote. Parliament could then vote on an alternative candidate or possibly move toward early elections.

The prime minister met with the PML-N and other opposition groups Monday in an apparent attempt to head off a no-confidence motion.

A no-confidence measure would require a majority of the 342-seat parliament to pass.

The PML-N has also expressed reservations about forming a coalition government with other opposition parties, with which it has troubled relations.

"We do not want to form a weak government with help from the small political groups," said Farooq, the PML-N spokesman. "If we do it, the coalition partners would start blackmailing us."

But Farooq cautioned that his party would do nothing to help prop up the PPP-led government.

"If they can complete their five-year term, they are most welcome to do it," said Farooq. "But if they cannot run the government after losing a majority, then they should decide whether fresh elections are required."