Zardari-Sharif to discuss Musharraf impeachment Wednesday

August 5th, 2008 - 11:12 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Aug 5 (IANS) The two major parties in Pakistan’s ruling coalition seem to have narrowed their differences on key issues and will meet again Wednesday to discuss the modalities of impeaching President Pervez Musharraf and reinstating the judges he sacked after declaring an emergency last year, a source said. The source told IANS after a meeting Tuesday between Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that it had been decided that the government would ask Musharraf to seek a trust vote in parliament.

However, Musharraf would not be able to win such a vote since the majority of political parties in parliament oppose the president, the source pointed out.

And, if he fails to win the confidence vote, this would be tantamount to impeachment, the source added.

Last November, Musharraf’s lawyer told the Supreme Court that he would take a vote of confidence from the new parliament after his re-election by the previous assemblies.

“The government will now ask the president to seek vote of confidence from the present parliament and assemblies,” said the source.

Zardari and Sharif met for over two hours Tuesday and this included a 90-minute one-on-one session behind closed doors.

Besides demanding Musharraf’s impeachment by parliament and the restoration of the sacked judges, the PML-N is also seeking the removal of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer - who has the backing of both the PPP and the president.

Tuesday’s talks were considered crucial as the future of the coalition government depends on their outcome.

“If the PML-N decides to part ways with the PPP, this can result in a disaster and may lead to fresh elections in the country,” said a senior PPP leader, requesting anonymity.

However, another PPP leader said it could manage the required numbers in parliament to continue its government even if PML-N decides to quit the coalition.

Earlier, the PML-N had laid down an August 15 deadline to the PPP to restore the judges and take a final decision on Musharraf’s impeachment. However, a PML-N leader, also requesting anonymity, said the party might adopt a “softer stance” on both issues for the sake of democracy in the country.

At the end of the meeting, Sharif left the Zardari House without talking to the media and waving from behind the closed windows of his limousine. Like him, none of the PML-N leaders talked to media persons expect for Khawaja Asif, who said: “Wait for tomorrow’s meeting.”

PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar told IANS that the talks would continue Wednesday morning and media would be briefed after they concluded.

“We are optimistic and hope that all issues will be resolved,” Babar said adding thorough discussions were held during Tuesday’s meeting.

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