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Musharraf’s impeachment – A done deal ?

There are a lot of contradictory signals that are emerging from Pakistan in the last few days with regard to the impeachment efforts against President Musharraf. While there are many reports to the effect that President Musharraf is willing to step down as long as he is given a honorable way out, and there cannot be further legal action against him for his past actions, there is also an increasing push by the country’s ruling politicians that the impeachment is going to happen and nothing can stop it:

Pakistan’s foreign minister has said President Pervez Musharraf must stand down in the next two days or face impeachment proceedings. “Musharraf is running out of time”, said Shah Mahmood Qureshi, of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – a major partner in the governing coalition. Draft charges against the president include violation of the constitution and gross misconduct, officials said.
The impeachment campaign was launched last week by leaders of the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Nawaz Sharif, who was toppled in the 1999 coup, said he was opposed to any deal which would give his old rival a “safe passage”. But the PPP, the party of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, says the decision of whether to put the president on trial should be left to parliament.

The move to proceed towards impeachment was something that the political parties were promising ever since they came into power, but they were not able to agree on a lot of other things such as getting the sacked judges back into power. Support for Musharraf is now at an alltime low, and it would seem that even his supporters in Washington are willing to let him go. At the same time, the action of the army is not yet known, although there is a lot of speculation.
The army would not want the spectacle of its chief for 8 years to be impeached by parliament, since that sets a bad precedent, and could lead to a perceived reduction of the power of the army in the informal troika that rules Pakistan (the Prime Minister and Army Chief are the stronger heads, and the President is the weaker link). The best course for the army would be to let Musharraf gracefully resign, with no further action against him, and with the understanding that the influence of the army is not reduced one bit. For all the talk from General Kiyani that the army should remain apolitical, he is no doubt not going to do anything that could lead to a reduction of the influence of the army.

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