IT is now two weeks since Pakistan's controversial parliamentary election but as yet there is no sign that its results have been turned into any decisions about the country's future governance. It is not unusual for lengthy negotiations between the parties to follow elections in Pakistan but in the still fragile state of the country there is a real danger of a vacuum being filled by extreme elements.

Some things are clear. President Musharaff's party, known as “King's Party” did badly in the election and is now a shadow of its former self although still retaining a sufficient number of seats for it to be useful in any coalition building. The Pakistan People's Party led by the late Benazir Bhutto's husband, Asif Zardari, won the greatest number of parliamentary seats, but not sufficient to enable it to form a government on its own. The former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was overthrown by President Musharraf in 1999, led his Pakistan Muslim League party to third place; Sharif has said he is not interested in entering government until the Chief Justice and 60 Supreme Court judges dismissed by Musharraf last year are reinstated.

There remains the question of Pervez Musharraf position. It is believed that The United States and Britain want him to remain in office as president even though his authority has been weakened. Any early attempt to remove him would put at risk the tentative stability which Pakistan seems to have achieved for the moment. Meanwhile, little has been heard of the Army.