Impeaching Musharraf will not end the problems

August 7, 2008

Pakistan’s fractious coalition has agreed to begin impeachment proceedings against President Pervez Musharraf but can it really pull it off ?  Do they have the numbers — the two-thirds majority required from the National Assembly and  Senate combined? Impeachement is like a trial, so what charges will they bring against him?

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And then there is the army, still arguably the most powerful institution in a country of 160 million people battling Islamist extremism, tension on its borders with India and Afghanistan where U.S. led coalition forces are hunkered down, and facing an economic meltdown.

Do Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have the consent of the army to go after one of its own in such humiliating fashion?

The questions are jumping off the pages as Pakistanis debate the latest twist in a political drama playing out against the backdrop of a country increasingly restless with the heavy weight of its ally the United States on the one hand, and the rising power of Islamist forces on the other.

Is this for real, asks Adi Najam at All Things Pakistan, wondering if the impeachment proposal was more an attempt to keep the four-month-old coalition going, given that the numbers don’t seem to add up.

Then there is the external factor.  Are Washington, Beijing and Riyadh — three of Pakistan’s closest allies — in favour of the impeachment decision, a post on the Pakistan Policy Blog asks.

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Musharraf, though, is not taking the threat lightly, and is lining up his supporters to fight the impeachment bill, according to the Daily Times.  The opposition has warned that the president might invoke Article 58(2b), the law that gives him power to dissolve the National Assembly.

When all is done, however, Pakistan must face the crises that dog the country and these will not disappear with Musharraf’s departure, if it comes to pass, as the Dawn notes. It listed the three main ones as the economic downturn, an unstable transition to democracy and an “explosive cocktail of militants rampaging across the country”.

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