Pakistani media cautious on Musharraf impeachment

August 8th, 2008 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, Aug 8 (IANS) The Pakistani media Friday reacted cautiously to the move to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, with one newspaper warning that the road to the denouement would be rocky. “The game has just started. An impeachment looks problematic for many reasons. There are as many chances of his resigning as there are of impeachment failing,” an editorial in Daily Times said.

Noting that no Pakistani head of state has so far been impeached, Dawn, in an editorial said that the move, “if successful, will take the country into new political territory”.

“It’s time to go Mr. President, and for the sake of all of us - please maintain your dignity and go quietly,” an editorial in The News said.

Asif Ali Zardari, co-chair of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that leads the country’s ruling coalition, announced Thursday that Musharraf would be impeached for his many misdemeanours since seizing power in a bloodless coup Oct 12, 1999 that toppled the elected government of prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is the second largest party in the ruling coalition, had made Musharraf’s impeachment a prerequisite for remaining in the alliance.

“It is clear to a majority of ordinary people that the president has gone past his sell-by date and it is time to ‘deploy the dignity’ and go with grace, gently easing himself into the past,” The News said in its editorial headlined “Gently does it”.

“There is a difference between having dignity and behaving with dignity. We all grow up with a sense of our own dignity but not all of us deploy it, judiciously or otherwise; and President Musharraf is one of those people mostly able to present themselves with dignity in his public appearances,” it noted.

At the same time, it warned that Musharraf’s exit “has the potential to be a far messier business”.

“The politicians shouting for his ouster want him out so that they can tussle for his job - the altruism that apparently drives their efforts is as phoney as most things political in Pakistan; this is about power, who has it and who wields it,” The News said.

Daily Times echoed this sentiment.

“The president is charged with undermining the federation, ruining the economy and refusing to take a vote of confidence in parliament.

“But is not clear whether any or all of these charges fit the bill for impeachment, which is based on constitutional violation or gross misconduct,” the newspaper’s editorial said.

According to Dawn, there were now three issues of “utmost” importance.

“First, let all sides stick to the constitution and let not the impeachment process become a long-drawn-out affair that will eclipse all other issues and cripple the government’s ability to deal with the people’s problems.

“Second, the president should weigh his chances. There is no doubt he will fight back, but given the odds against him and the unity shown by his political opponents inside and outside parliament, he would be well advised to decide to bow out gracefully.

“Third, the two major coalition partners might have often dragged their differences too far but ultimately they have shown a surprising degree of unity. This should give the right signal to a possible Bonapartist waiting in the wings,” Dawn said.

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