ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's main ruling party is proposing major constitutional changes that would curb the dwindling authority of President Pervez Musharraf. But winning agreement will be difficult, and it could strain an already fraying coalition government.
According to a copy obtained by the Associated Press, the draft amendments would, among other changes, end presidential power to declare war and reverse Musharraf's firing of senior judges - an action last year that, along with increasing violence by Islamic extremists, caused his popularity to slide.
The new civilian government, led by the party of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, took power two months ago after it had defeated Musharraf's allies in parliamentary elections, ending eight years of military domination.
Although the coalition partners remain united in their animosity toward the U.S.-backed Musharraf, forging quick agreement on the proposed 80 constitutional amendments appears unrealistic.
Changes to the constitution require a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, a tough threshold even if the four coalition parties reach consensus on amendments. Together, they lack even a simple majority in the upper house.
The government also has other distractions. It is struggling to cool inflation and alleviate electric-power shortages, and it is drawing international criticism for striking deals with Taliban insurgents in Pakistan's restive tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.
The amendment package "has no chance of getting through," said analyst Shafqat Mahmood, a former leader in Bhutto's party. "There are so many things in it that at least parts of it are going to be unacceptable to everybody."
He saw another motive: "The entire constitutional package is a way of dragging things out for a while so there is no decision."
Some Musharraf opponents have accused Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower and the head of her party, of stalling on the restoration of judges. They say he is either wary of confronting Musharraf or of reinstating a strong judiciary that could challenge a corruption amnesty that benefited him.
"Given the two major parties' inability to agree on a single point - the restoration of the judges - it would be interesting to see how they manage to arrive at a consensus on  points," the newspaper Dawn said in an editorial about the proposed constitutional amendments.
The AP obtained a copy of the draft constitutional changes from a member of Bhutto's party.
Two of the main proposals aimed at Musharraf are the shift in the power to declare war from the president to the prime minister and the restoration of senior judges fired when he declared a state of emergency in November to forestall a Supreme Court ruling on his eligibility as president.
Bhutto party spokesman Fahartullah Babar said the package also would include an amendment to strip the presidency of the power to fire the prime minister and dissolve parliament, although that change was not included in the draft seen by the AP.
Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted as prime minister in the 1999 coup that put Musharraf in power, said his party, the second largest in the governing coalition, would consider the constitutional package this week. But he appeared in no mood for compromise on the president.
Sharif's party has been demanding that Musharraf be prosecuted for high treason for subverting the constitution - a crime punishable by death.