Pakistan to Impeach Musharraf

It appears that the new Pakistani government is eager to run full speed toward the gasoline dump with a lit match.

With the country beset by extremists and terrorists striking seemingly at will, the coalition government has agreed to impeach
President Musharraf:

But impeachment will not be easy; it requires a two-thirds majority in parliament, and while the elections brought Musharraf's opponents to power, the numbers are close. The bigger immediate concern is Musharraf's constitutional power to dismiss the parliament, under a mechanism that was used three times in the 1990s to sack governments.

If the president believes that the army is with him, he may be tempted to use this authority. Impeachment has never been used in Pakistan before and there are fears that it could provoke another military intervention.

"This decision was taken in haste. They are playing with fire," said Amin Fahim, an estranged senior member of the PPP. "Every action has a reaction."

The president has repeatedly said he will not allow himself to be forced from power. Earlier this year, Musharraf - whose autobiography is pointedly called In the Line of Fire - warned that "I cannot preside over the downfall of Pakistan".

Would the military support Musharraf rather than stand with the government? A great unknown to be sure and a risk the Pakistani government should probably not be taking right now. But evidently hatred of Musharraf runs deep - especially after his declaration of emergency last year where many now in parliament were either jailed or lived under house arrest.

The Pakistani People's Party has seemed reluctant to proceed with impeachment. Some suggest that they made a secret deal with Musharraf during the months of painful negotiations to bring back Benazir Bhutto. Musharraf agreed not to prosecute both Bhutto's huband Asif Zardari, current head of the PPP and Nawaz Sharif, head of the Muslim League, on corruption charges and some Pakistanis see a possible quid pro quo on impeachment with Musharraf.

Whether that is true or not, it doesn't seem to be the right time to be taking on this divisive issue. The government can barely agree on the time of day as it is much less something as momentus as impeachment. Why risk the fragile coalition in what will probably be a doomed effort to remove the president - a man who if it is seen is being unfairly treated, could result in the army steppng in to take control as they have 3 times in recent years.

Impeachment is dynamite. And both Sharif and Zardari should beware lest it blow up in their hands,
It appears that the new Pakistani government is eager to run full speed toward the gasoline dump with a lit match.

With the country beset by extremists and terrorists striking seemingly at will, the coalition government has agreed to impeach
President Musharraf:

But impeachment will not be easy; it requires a two-thirds majority in parliament, and while the elections brought Musharraf's opponents to power, the numbers are close. The bigger immediate concern is Musharraf's constitutional power to dismiss the parliament, under a mechanism that was used three times in the 1990s to sack governments.

If the president believes that the army is with him, he may be tempted to use this authority. Impeachment has never been used in Pakistan before and there are fears that it could provoke another military intervention.

"This decision was taken in haste. They are playing with fire," said Amin Fahim, an estranged senior member of the PPP. "Every action has a reaction."

The president has repeatedly said he will not allow himself to be forced from power. Earlier this year, Musharraf - whose autobiography is pointedly called In the Line of Fire - warned that "I cannot preside over the downfall of Pakistan".

Would the military support Musharraf rather than stand with the government? A great unknown to be sure and a risk the Pakistani government should probably not be taking right now. But evidently hatred of Musharraf runs deep - especially after his declaration of emergency last year where many now in parliament were either jailed or lived under house arrest.

The Pakistani People's Party has seemed reluctant to proceed with impeachment. Some suggest that they made a secret deal with Musharraf during the months of painful negotiations to bring back Benazir Bhutto. Musharraf agreed not to prosecute both Bhutto's huband Asif Zardari, current head of the PPP and Nawaz Sharif, head of the Muslim League, on corruption charges and some Pakistanis see a possible quid pro quo on impeachment with Musharraf.

Whether that is true or not, it doesn't seem to be the right time to be taking on this divisive issue. The government can barely agree on the time of day as it is much less something as momentus as impeachment. Why risk the fragile coalition in what will probably be a doomed effort to remove the president - a man who if it is seen is being unfairly treated, could result in the army steppng in to take control as they have 3 times in recent years.

Impeachment is dynamite. And both Sharif and Zardari should beware lest it blow up in their hands,