Friday, August 15, 2008

Impeachment Proceedings Against Musharraf

On August 7, 2008, the Pakistan Peoples Party, lead by Asif Ali Zardari (widower of Benazir Bhutto) and the Pakistan Muslim League, led by former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, agreed to jointly push for the impeachment of President Musharraf. The two parties announced that they would request that Musharraf resign. Musharraf's reply was, "I will defeat those who try to push me to the wall. If they use their right to oust me, I have the right to defend myself."

To impeach Musharraf, the ruling coalition will need a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and Senate. This means 295 votes in the 442-member joint session of both houses. Musharraf may fight his impeachment by dissolving parliament. However, he would also have to impose military to quell the civil unrest that this would cause. Many Pakistanis are unhappy with Musharraf's handling of Iftikhar Chaudhry, a popular judge who challenged the government on some sensitive issues. Musharraf sacked him, reinstated him, and then sacked him again.

The United States has called Musharraf's impeachment a matter of Pakistan's "internal politics" and US State Department spokeman Gonzalo Gallegos told reporters that "Our expectation is that any action will be consistent with the rule of law and the Pakistani constitution."

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