Pakistan coalition to announce decision on Musharraf impeachment (Lead)

August 7th, 2008 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
Islamabad, Aug 7 (DPA) Leaders of Pakistan’s coalition Thursday were set to announce their “decisive decision” on the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, a move that could send the country into yet another political crisis. Asif Ali Zardari, head of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif held marathon consultation sessions over the last couple of days and a “consensus” was reached early Thursday.

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said a joint statement to be issued Thursday afternoon would bring “good news” to the nation.

PML-N’s spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told reporters early Thursday that the two parties had made progress in their talks over the beleaguered president’s trial and reinstatement of more than 60 judges sacked by him under last year’s emergency.

The proclamation of the emergency rule Nov 3 turned the tables for the PPP and PML-N, whose candidates routed the political allies of Musharraf in the February 18 general election.

Both parties formed a coalition government but Sharif withdrew his cabinet members in May after the partners failed to honour a revised deadline to restore the judges, including the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The PML-N chief refused to budge on the reinstatement issue and also called for charging Musharraf with treason, but Zardari showed reluctance to have a showdown with the former army commander, who came to power after ousting Sharif in a 1999 bloodless coup.

In an early sign of panic, Musharraf Wednesday morning cancelled his visit of China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics but later in the evening restored it.

The president’s rescheduled departure was once again postponed Thursday morning and a close aide to him said on condition of anonymity that the final decision about the trip would be taken after the release of the ruling coalition’s joint statement.

The political uncertainty had also jolted the country’s stocks which plummeted 3.6 per cent on Wednesday and the downward trend continued when the stock market opened on Thursday.

The commentators have said if pushed to the wall Musharraf might strike back with dissolution of the government and parliament.

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