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Musharraf ready to face impeachment proceedings

August 08, 2008 14:08 IST

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Ruling out his resignation, President Pervez Musharraf [Images] has decided to face impeachment proceedings to be initiated against him by Pakistan's ruling coalition and vowed to defend himself before Parliament.

Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, a close confidant of Musharraf, said the President was determined to fight back.

During a meeting on Thursday with his trusted legal advisors, Musharraf was quoted by Geo News channel as saying that he would respond to the charges against him in Parliament.

Musharraf, 63, told Pakistan Muslim League-Q leader Muhammad Ali Durrani, constitutional expert Sharifuddin Pirzada and Attorney General Malik Qayyum that he had not violated the constitution for personal gains and that every action of his was in the "best interest of Pakistan".

"I have not abrogated the constitution and will respond to the charges against me in Parliament," Musharraf was quoted as telling his aides by the Dawn newspaper.

Meanwhile, in a message conveyed to Musharraf through a trusted aide, ruling Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Ali Zardari has said the President "should resign so that proceedings against him in Parliament could be defended".

Sources also claimed that Zardari, who recently described the President as a "relic of the past", wanted to provide Musharraf with a safe passage.

In the message, which was conveyed after the coalition announced it would impeach the President, Zardari said the country is facing a dire situation and "no individual or institution should attempt any adventure that might jeopardize national stability".

The Daily Times newspaper said Zardari had asked Musharraf to "practically demonstrate that he prefers national interests over his own and honour his slogan of 'Pakistan first'."

However, Musharraf said he would not surrender without contesting the charges levelled against him by the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition.

During a news conference on Thursday, Zardari and his ally PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif accused Musharraf of "incompetence" and bringing Pakistan to the "brink of a critical economic impasse" through his policies over the past eight years.

They also said the President was conspiring with the opposition PML-Q to "undermine the transition to democracy".

Even after the defeat of the PML-Q in the February 18 general election, Musharraf clung on to power and repeatedly said he would not quit despite pressure to do so from the coalition, especially the PML-N.

During his meetings with his aides, Musharraf discussed ways to foil the coalition's bid to impeach him.

Sources privy to the developments told the Daily Times newspaper that Musharraf had a long meeting with legal expert Sharifuddin Pirzada to explore constitutional and legal ways to avoid impeachment.

They discussed all options available to the President, including the use of Article 58(2b) of the Constitution, which empowers Musharraf to dissolve Parliament and dismiss the prime minister, promulgation of a state of emergency, and facing the impeachment motion in parliament, the sources said.

The sources also said Musharraf had asked his allies to help muster support in Parliament to defeat the impeachment motion.

Musharraf's allies were confident that the President would survive the impeachment bid. PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said Article 58(2b) would  be used only as a last resort. He said the army would look after the country's interest and not of any party or individual.

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