While the ruling coalition in Pakistan is set to finalise charges aimed at impeaching Pervez Musharraf (photo), the country’s president, on Monday, provincial lawmakers were also set to begin tabling resolutions calling on Mr Musharraf to either step down or face impeachment.
Yet, regardless of the mountain cases against him, president Musharraf’s spokesman, Rashid Qureshi, said he will not resign : “There is no reason that he should resign. Everything they are saying is false, so why should he resign?”
Later on Monday, ahead of the filing of the impeachment charges against the former general, Pakistan’s national assembly, or lower house of parliament, is also due to convene.
Pervez Musharraf became Pakistan’s president in 1999, in a bloodless coup, but February’s elections have been won by his rivals, who set up a new government.
Last week, the governing coalition announced its impeachment plans, saying it was preparing a “charge sheet”, with allegations such as violation of the constitution, economic mismanagement and political manipulation.
‘The brink of critical economic impasse’
Previously, the twin issues of what to do about Mr Musharraf and how to carry out their pledge in order to reinstate senior judges that he sacked last year, under emergency rule, had split the coalition.
The announcement has been made on Thursday afternoon at a news conference in Islamabad, the country’s capital, by the leader of Pakistan’s ruling coalition, Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
“We have good news for democracy”, Mr Zardari said. “The coalition believes it is imperative to move for impeachment against General Musharraf.”
“The economic policies pursued by President Musharraf during the past eight years have brought Pakistan to the brink of critical economic impasse”, he said.
“His policies have weakened the federation and eroded the trust of the nation in national institutions.”
After the provincial assemblies have passed their resolutions, which could continue into next week, the impeachment motion will be filed, said Ahsan Iqbal, spokesman for the second-largest coalition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Corruption and murder
In 61 years of turbulent history, no president has been impeached in Pakistan.
In order to strip Pervez Musharraf of the presidency, the two-thirds majority in a joint sitting of both houses in parliament is required, and the ruling coalition claims it can get it.
Although Mr Musharraf’s allies dispute that and have urged the longtime US ally to fight impeachment, they have advised the president against using his authority to dismiss parliament and the prime minister.
No comment has been made by Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), on reports that the charges due to be finalised on Monday, Mr Musharraf’s 65 birthday, included corruption and murder.
Media reports said that, while tamping up the pressure, with expected “no-confidence” motions in the four provincial assemblies, the governing coalition is trying to give president Musharraf time to quit without facing the humiliation of impeachment.