Pakistan civilian government unites in a coalition to impeach President Pervez Musharraf

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Friday, August 8, 2008

The two dominant parties of Pakistan's National Assembly have united in a coalition to impeach President Pervez Musharraf. The decision was announced by party leaders Asif Ali Zardari, widower of former premier Benazir Bhutto, and Nawaz Sharif, with the parties aiming for a successful no-confidence vote against President Musharraf. The impeachment process is planned to start within the following week.

Pervez Musharraf has ruled Pakistan since 1999
Image: Helene C. Stikkel.

There have been concerns that an attempt at impeachment would result in a detrimental political battle in a country already facing political instability. A senior member of a party allied with Musharraf stated that the impeachment would "open a Pandora's box" regarding Pakistan's future.

Once the impeachment process begins, the coalition will need to muster a required two-thirds majority in order to successfully impeach Musharraf. Musharraf has little support in the National Assembly, as most of his political allies were defeated in the February elections. If the coalition is successful, Musharraf will be the first president in Pakistan's sixty-one year history to have been impeached.

Musharraf has canceled his trip to the Beijing Olympics so that he can focus on planning a response to the coalition. Successfully defeating the impeachment will depend largely on the support of the military, for which he acted as chief until international pressure forced him to step down a year ago. Other options Musharraf may explore include declaring a state of emergency, which could aid him in getting the support of the military, or dissolving parliament, though this would likely lead to political chaos.


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