Pakistan's Musharraf refuses to quit, as opponents eye impeachment
Political activists and lawyers launched a cross-country march Monday to press for the reinstatement of independent judges fired by Musharraf.
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The Washington Post reports that Mr. Zardari has until recently played "good cop" to Mr. Sharif's "bad cop," holding back on public criticism of the embattled president in contrast to Sharif's staunch opposition. Now he and his party officials are increasingly vehement in attacking Musharraf. The shift in the PPP was seen in a stormy parliamentary session last week where members of Sharif's party called for Musharraf to be put on trial for treason and a PPP lawmaker issued a veiled threat of violence against him.Skip to next paragraph
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But Musharraf is not without his supporters. Marvi Memon, a newly elected member of parliament, staunchly defended him during the riotous session. In an interview, she dismissed the suggestion that Musharraf was preparing to resign, saying, "The president is a fighter."
Still, pressure on Musharraf to step down appears to be mounting in other quarters. The military he once led has been reshuffled since the appointment of his replacement, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani. Rumors of Musharraf's imminent resignation intensified last week when Kiyani named Brig. Faheem Rao as commander of the army's Triple-One Brigade, the unit charged with maintaining presidential security, replacing a longtime Musharraf loyalist, Brig. Aasim Salim Bajwa.
Musharraf has long looked to President Bush and other Western powers for support and styled himself as a bulwark against extremism, reports Reuters. But Western allies appear less worried now about his downfall than the prospects for further chaos in nuclear-armed Pakistan. The political debate over Musharraf is seen as distracting from the security challenge posed by Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as well as an economic dip on higher oil prices and frequent electricity breakdowns.
Radio Australia reports that the PPP has already prepared constitutional amendments that would curtail the powers of the president in favor of parliament, a move that Musharraf has said he would resist. The PPP is said to be anxious to avoid a drawn-out battle by giving the president a "dignified exit." For his part, Musharraf wants immunity for his suspension last November of the Constitution and imposition of emergency rule.
In an editorial, the Daily Times argues that Musharraf wasn't as provocative in his weekend appearance as Pakistani media commentators have claimed and points out that his parliamentary allies did command a significant share of votes in February's election. There is also no legal reason why a president should resign when parliament falls into the hands of its opponents, though it now seems that there is no other path open, even as the debate exposes deep cracks in the governing coalition.
If one looks at the vengeful views expressed in the media, the political calculus goes against President Musharraf. That is why we recommend that he decide to quit now rather than risk impeachment later on when the parliamentary numbers are against him. Unfortunately, the case-history of antagonism among his opposition – read PMLN and PPP – is so strong that he may be deluded into holding on for some time longer.