Even as the Pakistan’s ruling coalition has sought a confidence vote in stead of his impeachment, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been considering all options before him that would make his position safe and take turmoil away from Pakistan’s politics. The president has earlier refused to bow to the calls for his resignation and has said he would ‘face the impeachment motion with a democratic spirit.’ Speculation has been rife that Musharraf would quit rather than face impeachment, though his spokesman has denied that.
President Musharraf has once again stressed for reconciliation and said the country needs political stability for economic development and for addressing militancy. He called upon the leaders spearheading to oust him from presidency and, perhaps, sending him abroad either to USA or Saudi Arabia, to make compromises for the sake of Pakistan’s security, development and well being of the people and their differences be buried. “I appeal to all elements to adopt an approach of reconciliation so that there is political stability and we can firmly confront the real problems facing the country,” Musharraf said in a TV address ahead of Pakistan’s 61st Independence Day celebrations on 14 August. He reminded the nation their adversaries are trying to destabilize Pakistan from several fronts, internal as well as external.
Underscoring the threat, shortly before noisy Independence Day celebrations began, a suicide bomb attack on police killed seven people in the eastern city of Lahore. In a fresh attempt to secure a sort of truce with his opponents and detractors, Musharraf has been at the centre of a political crisis since last year that has heightened concerns in the United States and among its allies about the stability of Pakistan, a nuclear-armed Muslim state. In his first public comments since the coalition announced its impeachment plan last week, the former army chief and firm U.S ally also did not refer to the calls for him to step down.
Leaders of ruling coalition, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) have agreed to begin impeachment proceedings against President Pervez Musharraf in a joint session of both houses of Parliament, the National Assembly and Senate, charging him with violating the Constitution, weakening the federation and other state institutions and causing a critical economic impasse. The coalition decided to initiate the process if the president failed to take a confidence vote. The coalition claimed to have the required strength in parliament to impeach the president.
President Musharraf has clearly ruled out taking any confidence vote. The communiqué they have prepared contains a complete plan for mpeachment proceedings and an outline of the charge-sheet that will be presented along with a resolution for impeachment in a joint sitting of parliament. All the four provincial assemblies are expected to adopt resolutions demanding that President Musharraf should seek a vote of confidence immediately in accordance with a commitment made in the Supreme Court. But an impeachment would take Pakistani politics into new territory, since no Pakistani leader has faced it before. Former ruling former ruling PML-Q party which supports Musharraf has asked him to stay on. “If he fights back we are with him. We will support him, and that is the preferred option.” The president retains the power to dissolve parliament, but most analysts believe he is reluctant, so far, to do this.
Impeachment of Musharraf has been in the air for quite some time ever since the new government assumed office. Both Nawaz and Benazir returned to Pakistan on a clear understanding may be an agreement, on the future course of politics in the country including conducting elections. And the agreement was mediated by many countries including USA and Saudi Arabia. Accordingly, general elections wee held in February and new governments took office in Provinces and National Assembly. Major parties PPP and PMLN made a coalition at the centre on a few conditions from PMLN supremo Nawaz mainly on restoration of judges and reversion of constitution. Later, as the PPP was slow peddling the actions against Musharraf, PMLN developed serious misunderstandings with PPP. PMLN withdrew its members from the government, but continued support the PPP-led government from outside.
As the political temperature becomes intense in Pakistan over the issue of impeachment of president Musharraf the focus is on the very impeachment in the parliament and the fall out of that action, if appeasement is handed out to the former General who shed his uniform under agreement with politicians to assume the presidency. Musharraf’s popularity began to evaporate last year when he clashed with the judiciary and imposed a brief period of emergency rule. As the pressure mounted on Musharraf, with a growing number of politicians, including some old allies, calling on him to go, a crucial question is how the army will react. World is keenly watch the trial of strength between president and parliament.
There have been against Musharraf’s continuation, but it is only now that his opposition leaders have come out with graft charges. As part of the appeasement strategy for PMLN, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, in order to initiate impeachment proceedings, has now accused Musharraf that he misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid given for supporting the terror war, nearly about $700m a year missing. Zardari also accused the president of economic sabotage and fomenting conflict in Balochistan and the tribal areas.
Musharraf might have shifted lot money to the military department, but one does not know if he could also swindle Pakistani money at all. Accusing Musharraf of misusing funds could even be a rare pleasure for the 54-year-old Zardari, whose own name became a byword for corruption during his wife’s first government in1988-90. He spent 11 years in jail on charges for which he was never convicted. Nawaz was in jail on serious corruption offences too.
The session of the 342-member Assembly commenced on 11 August
as the PPP-led coalition said it has drawn up an “unimpeachable” charge-sheet listing allegations of misconduct, violation of Constitution and financial irregularities against Musharraf, who turned 65 on 11 August. But the embattled President vowed to slug it out in Parliament that began a crucial session. The impeachment move gained momentum after the Punjab provincial assembly voted for a resolution asking him to quit or seek a vote of confidence in parliament.
The ruling collation partners have exerted tremendous amount of pressure on Musharraf to resign or take a parliamentary vote of confidence or face the consequences of impeachment. Sindh, Punjab and NWFP Assemblies have passed resolutions of no-confidence against President Pervez Musharraf.
Meanwhile, President Pervez Musharraf was reported as saying he will not accept his defeat vowing to fight his impeachment bid by the ruling coalition. He vowed to adopt all ‘legal’ means in his defense against impeachment motion. Ignoring mounting pressure from both friends and foes to quit before the National Assembly initiates the impeachment process, Musharraf said he would prove “false before the nation” all the allegations leveled against him by the ruling coalition, the local Geo TV reported. Ahead of the National Assembly session, Musharraf held talks with his supporters in the opposition PML-Q.
However, another source privy to Musharraf’s state said the president would not use his discretionary power to dissolve the National Assembly and dismiss the government because he had been too much incapacitated.
Confused with the slogans of democracy and rule of law advanced by the USA and India both have occupied alien nations forcefully, bulk of media in Pakistan (and, obviously, in India) want Musharraf to quit immediately “with honor”.
These Indo-Pakistan media want to see perpetual crisis situation in Pakistan.They even suggest both USA and Pakistani military have declined to support Musharraf which is to the contrary of facts. Members of the ruling coalition also “acknowledge” that so far the Army and the ISI have stayed neutral; thus, allowing the political system to progress towards maturity. Media say there is a clear indication of the lack of support for the President even among his ally PML-Q. Military in Pakistan will step in at the appropriate time.USA cannot discard Musharraf at the present juncture.
Hours after Musharraf spoke, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, a senior leader of Bhutto’s party, said in his Independence Day address his government believed in reconciliation between political parties. Gilani, who heads a coalition of parties opposed to Musharraf, formed after a February general election, did not refer to Musharraf or respond directly to his appeal. Former cricketer and the leader of the Tehrik-e-Insaf, Imran Khan has said that the announcement of impeachment of President Musharraf is another attempt to buy more time to rule the country and deceive the people of Pakistan.
It is naïve to believe that once Musharraf is removed from presidency by any means, every thing will be normal in Pakistan. It sounds strange that a president elected for a 5 year term has been asked by the leaders to seek vote of confidence, revising an earlier move to impeach him. It looks Pakistan wants to follow Indian model in politics
when it suits a new dispensation, but Indian politics is faulty. UPA government in India had itself lost majority and hence the government was asked to seek a vote of confidence, but not the president of India.
Musharraf has already hinted that he is not opposed to reinstatement of judges. He has extended support to the new governments at centre and provinces and now he has sought reconciliation for the sake of stability and economic advancement of Pakistan. Issues of judges and constitution are obviously not paramount in the mindset of the new leaders. It looks all is about chairs and shares; revenge and sadistic pleasure. Votes are there only to help the fight go on. It is unfortunate that the politicians don’t’ consider the consequences of such a drastic step when the country is passing through severe problems of all sorts
and the purchasing power of the masses, who have voted them to power with a mandate to address their problems, has been weakening tremendously.
The solder in president Musharraf vows to fight impeachment and he will have the right to defend himself after the impeachment motion is moved, although he has resisted the pressures to dissolve the parliament or clamp emergency or something even worse than that. The president retains the power to dissolve parliament and if he does that that would create a fresh set of turmoil that would further complicate the life of ordinary people in the country.
It is, however, being asked as to why should an elected president take a vote of confidence? If so, should every elected member of the Assembly and Parliament also to do the same just for a fun? And if any of the members lose the confidence vote in poll in their respective constituency, what dos that suggest at all? Does the new harvest of rulers now want to see another set of turmoil to erupt with the impeachment motion? And what if Musharraf refuses to quit at all before completing his term? Then, will all current political exercises to remove president Musharraf at any cost and make Sharif or Zardari the next president help the people of Pakistan who have suffered a great deal thus far even other wise and still look forward to their leaders for their economic welfare and uplift?
Is not reconciliation a better option for now so as to let the Gilani government concentrate on its new pro-people projects?