Musharraf won't quit despite impeachment

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will not resign, his spokesperson said on Monday, as the ruling coalition put the finishing touches to impeachment charges against the key United States ally.

Parliament was also due to convene ahead of the expected formal launch of impeachment proceedings later this week, while provincial assemblies will shortly consider no-confidence motions against Musharraf.

The former general has even faced calls from his own allies to stand down nearly nine years after he grabbed power in a bloodless military coup, but his spokesperson dismissed the mounting pressure.

“There is no reason that he should resign. Everything they are saying is false, so why should he resign?” said presidential spokesperson Rashid Qureshi.

The spokesperson however declined to comment on Musharraf’s plans. His options include trying to defeat impeachment in Parliament, dissolving Parliament or declaring a state of emergency.

It was the first statement from Musharraf’s camp since the coalition, which swept to power in elections in February, announced its impeachment plans on Thursday.

“The work of the impeachment committee is almost complete.
It is giving finishing touches to the charge sheet,” said Farzana Raja, a senior member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“We gave him a chance to resign, we gave him a few months. But we have come to the conclusion that now the people of Pakistan, through their elected representatives in the Parliament, will have to do that,” she said.

Media reports said the coalition is trying to give Musharraf time to quit without facing the humiliation of impeachment, while piling on the pressure with votes against the president in the four provincial assemblies.

“First the provincial assemblies will pass resolutions [calling for Musharraf to quit] and this will happen during this week,” Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters outside Parliament.

The government was confident it could get the two-thirds majority it needs to impeach Musharraf without having to resort to parliamentary machinations, Rehman said.

“Any democrat would be voting on the right side of history. We do not need horse-trading,” she said.

Farhatullah Babar, a PPP spokesperson, would not comment on reports that the charges being listed against Musharraf included corruption and murder. Other officials have said the charges will run to more than 100 pages.

Coalition officials said that although the government had summoned Parliament to sit on Monday—Musharraf’s 65th birthday—the charges would likely be filed later in the week.

On Sunday, some allies joined the coalition calls to quit. Sardar Bahadur Khan, an MP from Musharraf’s main ally, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, said more than 25 MPs from the party wanted Musharraf to resign.

But the real key to Musharraf’s survival is likely to be whether he gets the support of the powerful army, analysts say. He stood down as chief of the military in November last year.

The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half its 61-year history but Musharraf’s successor, General Ashfaq Kayani, has expressed a desire to keep the army out of politics.

If he gets Kayani’s support, Musharraf could try to dissolve Parliament and head off impeachment. But if Kayani views the impeachment process as too humiliating, he could lean on Musharraf to stand down. - Sapa

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