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Musharraf impeachment move an internal matter of Pakistan: US

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | August 08, 2008 09:53 IST

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The US, which backed President Pervez Musharraf [Images] for aiding the 'war on terror', on Friday said the decision to impeach the embattled leader is an "internal matter" of Pakistan, but must be "consistent with the rule of law and their constitution."

"We have consistently said the internal politics of Pakistan is an issue for the Pakistani people to decide. Our expectation is that any action will be consistent with the rule of law and the Pakistani constitution," State Department Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said.

"It is the responsibility of their leaders to decide on a way forward to succeed as a modern and democratic country. We will continue our close ties with the democratically elected government," he said in a briefing.

Musharraf is facing the gravest crisis since seizing power over eight years ago with Pakistan's ruling coalition on Thursday evening deciding to impeach him.

Coalition leaders Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan People's Party and Nawaz Sharif of the Paksitan Muslim League-Nawaz said the president had failed to address the new Parliament as required by the Constitution while economic policies pursued by his government over the past eight years had brought Pakistan to the brink of a "critical economic impasse".

However, the United States said it is keeping a close watch over the situation.

"We understand what is happening. We are following it closely. We're discussing it with our interlocutors there in Pakistan," the senior official said, adding the US remains a close ally of Islamabad [Images] in the war on terror.

Gallegos refuted reports that the impeachment issue was discussed during talks between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images] and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [Images] when the latter paid a visit to Washington recently.

"I don't have any information that this was discussed with the secretary," Gallegos said.

Musharraf seized power from then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999. He stepped down as army chief in December 2007 after he was elected as president for another five-years term in a controversial election.

The coalition partners, PPP and PML-N, were holding talks over the matter for some time after the former sticked to its demand for Musharraf's ouster from positions of power.

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