The ruling coalition in Pakistan has finally decided to seek the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf. Coalition leaders Asif Ali Zardari, and ex-premier Nawaz Sharif made the announcement after three days of marathon talks.
Pakistan's ruling party leader Asif Ali Zardari, left, with former Premier Nawaz Sharif
For three days the people of Pakistan have waited in suspense to hear what the ruling coalition would decide on the fate of President Pervez Musharraf. Now the coalition has formally announced that it has decided to pursue impeachment proceedings against Musharraf.
Speaking at a news conference in Islamabad, Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, said Pakistan's ruling coalition had agreed to table a motion in parliament on Monday to impeach the president. “The coalition believes it is imperative to move for impeachment against General Musharraf,” he said.
Zardari said Musharraf had not only violated the constitution several times but also failed to secure a vote of confidence from parliament. Musharraf's policies had also landed the country in a deep economic crisis, Zardari said.
Restoring judges high on agenda
Most Pakistanis had hoped to see the back of President Musharraf after they voted out the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (Q) in the general elections in February this year. But out of expedience the People's Party dithered and its failure to move against the president and restore the judges he had dismissed in November last year, also forced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to withdraw his ministers from the coalition government.
Sharif told the joint press conference that the impeachment of the President and the restoration of the judges had been on top of his agenda even before the elections. Sharif ruled out any adverse reaction by the president, saying the country could not afford unconstitutional moves any more:
“It has been done many times in this country, after martial law, after army’s interventions -- the elected parliament has been dissolved many times. This country can't withstand the constant assault on democracy like in the past,” he said.
The coalition plans to move the impeachment motion first in the four provincial assemblies before tabling it in a joint session of parliament during the current month. But given the legal intricacies of the entire process, the move might take some time, and this has certainly made the restoration of some five dozen judges contingent upon the success of the impeachment resolution.