Pervez Musharraf’s aides said that the Pakistani president will defend himself against impeachment, after the ruling coalition vowed to launch proceeding to oust him.
On Friday, president Musharraf is set to have met his legal and political advisers, in order to discuss his options.
“He is considering the options that are available. He will respond to the government’s allegations and defend himself”, a presidential aide told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.
Speculation is rife that he may dissolve parliament or declare another state of emergency, moves set to further deepen the current political turmoil in the strife-torn country.
Although he was scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Pervez Musharraf cancelled, due to his possible removal from office, while Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistan prime minister, headed to China.
Pakistani president has very few options, Tariq Pirzada, a political and strategic affairs anaylst in Islamabad, told Al Jazeera.
“What we have is a situation where he is isloated, he has no political backing, even the US is not backing him, and labelled the situation as an ‘internal matter’“, he said.
“He is in dire straits, and its either he steps down or faces impeachment.”
On Thursday, the leader of Pakistan’s ruling coalition, Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto (photo), and Nawaz Sharif, also a former prime minister, announced that they would seek Mr Musharraf’s impeachment for allegedly mismanaging the country.
Parliament could begin the impeachment process by filing a charge sheet against Pervez Musharraf as early as Monday, which is also Musharraf’s 65th birthday, said officials.
President Musharraf would “not wait for the numbers game”, said the aide who spoke for him, meaning that he would not indulge in political horsetrading in order to stop the coalition getting the votes it needs.
Under Pakistan’s constitution, impeachment requires a two-thirds majority in the upper and lower houses of parliament. In Pakistan’s 61-year history, it would be the first time that a president has been impeached.
Currently, the ruling coalition is several seats short of the 295 votes it requires out of the 439 in the senate and national assembly, to remove Mr Musharraf.
Though together with smaller coalition partners, Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), have 266 seats, they need a further 29 MPs, mainly from the troubled tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
The support president Musharraf gets from the country’s 500,000-strong army, of which he gave up the leadership last November, will probably be the key factor in his decision.
Historically, the military has acted to defend the honour of its current and former chiefs, and even though Pervez Musharraf’s successor as army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani (photo), has shown no signs of disloyalty, he has also appeared keen to keep the army out of politics.
For the past six decades, the military has been in power for more than half the time, which damaged its image domestically.
The president has to have military support to impose a state of emergency, and in a country already suffering from widespread economic problems, unrest could also come from dissolving parliament.