Top leaders of Pakistan's ruling coalition government say they have
agreed on a plan to pursue impeachment proceedings against President
Pervez Musharraf. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad, where
Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Zardari explained their plan to
unseat the president and to restore the judges who were ousted by Mr.
Musharraf last year.
Pakistan's coalition government has been
deadlocked for months over whether it will impeach president Musharraf
and restore the top judges he fired last November. The leaders have
long said they agreed in principle on the issues, but were divided over
But in a news conference Thursday led by Pakistan
People's Party leader Asif Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-N leader
Nawaz Sharif, the two announced a strategy to unseat the unpopular
"The coalition leadership believes it has become
imperative to move for impeachment under article 47 against General
Musharraf," said Zardari.
Article 47 states that a president can
be removed from office for violating the constitution. Mr. Musharraf's
political opponents argue he violated this provision when he suspended
the constitution last November and declared emergency rule.
also said Pakistan's four provincial assemblies would pass resolutions
demanding Mr. Musharraf seek a vote of confidence in parliament - which
he had pledged to do last year.
President Musharraf still
retains the power to dismiss parliament and thus neutralize his
political opponents. Such a move would require the backing of
Pakistan's powerful military but it is unclear if the military would
support the former army chief. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said
such a move would not be possible in Pakistan's current political
He said this is not the Pakistan of the 1980s or
1990s, when elected governments were dismissed. He said Pakistan has
changed and the country cannot afford another declaration of martial
The two political leaders also addressed the issue of
restoring judges deposed by President Musharraf. The Pakistan People's
Party has been criticized by Nawaz Sharif for not honoring the
so-called Murree Declaration that outlined steps for restoring the
judiciary. PPP leader Zardari said the judges will be restored once the
president is impeached.
"The coalition leadership further
resolved to restore all judges removed through extra constitutional
means by General Musharraf on November 3, 2007, strictly in
accordance with the Murree declaration, immediately after the
impeachment of the president," he said.
political allies have been skeptical that the ruling coalition has the
required two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament to unseat the
leader through impeachment. But in Thursday's news conference with
reporters, Zardari said he hoped 90 percent of lawmakers would vote
against the president.