Monday, August 11, 2008

Impeachment Ramps Up Against Pakistan's Musharraf

According to some sources, Pakistan's President Musharraf may have a matter of days before facing the choice of exile or an impeachment trial.

The charge sheet - known as an indictment in more civilized climes - has already been prepared according to the Pakistani Parliamentary Speaker, Siddiq-ul-Farooq,from the Islamist Pakistan Muslim-League-Nawaz party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the second largest party in Parliament.

The charges are a little convoluted, but in a place like Pakistan it's enough that your enemies don't like you and the army is prepared to stand aside...which is exactly what Siddiq-ul-Farooq alleges.

The army, of course,is the ultimate wild card. There's really no telling how they'll jump until things actually start moving, as the army is literally the only functioning institution in Pakistan.

Seeing how Musharraf at this point has little power after his party was soundly beaten in the recent elections, the push for impeachment puzzled me a bit until I connected a few dots. According to my notorious little birdies on the scene, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose party is the junior partner in the governing coalition is the main force consistently calling for Musharraf's ouster, and for the judges Musharraf dismissed to be restored. That makes sense, since Sharif was deposed by Musharraf and had to flee into exile.

However the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP), the senior partner, has been a lot more more willing to deal with the Musharraf, especially since one of those deals gave legal immunity on corruption charges to PPP party leader Asif Zardari, the husband of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated during the election campaign. The PPP,accordingly, was inclined to live and let live like the kleptocrats they are.

What probably happened is that Sharif and his Islamist party threatened to pull out of the coalition unless Musharraf was impeached, plain and simple.

Assuming Musharraf is out of the picture, we might see a deal where Zardari takes over as president and Sharif takes over as prime minister.

Scary.Particularly since Pakistan's nukes were secured by Musharraf.

We'll see what happens.

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