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Musharraf's birthday gift: Impeachment on Aug 11

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 07, 2008 15:47 IST
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Pakistan's ruling coalition is expected to move an impeachment motion against Musharraf in parliament on August 11, which incidentally is also his birthday.

In an apparent breakthrough, Pakistan's two main ruling coalition allies on Thursday said they have reached an 'understanding' on impeaching President Pervez Musharraf and reinstating judges sacked by him last year, with Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz declaring that the two steps will be taken "within days".

After three days of marathon talks, PML-N leaders said the two parties had reached broad agreement on the two issues.

Pakistan Peoples' Party sources said that the two parties had been able to resolve differences that had arisen following Musharraf suddenly approving a proposal to reinstate eight judges of the Sindh high court whom he had sacked during last year's emergency rule.

PML-N spokesman Siddique-ul-Farooq said the impeachment of Musharraf would be followed by the restoration of the deposed judges "within 24 hours".

Farooq told reporters, "I think it may take days, not weeks. Both the (impeachment and reinstatement of deposed judges) will be completed within days."

Farooq also said both parties cannot "afford further delays" on the impeachment and restoration of the deposed judges, two thorny issues they have grappled with since they came together in March to form a coalition.

Senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, a confidant of Sharif, said, "I can say that an understanding has been reached on all important issues and we will present the outcome of our consultations before the nation. I am very hopeful that it will be a positive outcome."

Law secretary Agha Rafiq said no formal notification had been issued for restoring the judges after Musharraf approved their reinstatement.

A PPP minister who is a part of his party's negotiating team told the Dawn newspaper that the notification about the high court judges would be held in abeyance till the reinstatement of all deposed judges.

On hearing of the reinstatement of the high court judges by Musharraf, Sharif reportedly walked out of his meeting with PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari at the latter's residence on Wednesday and refused to return for parleys till the president's move was reversed.

Amidst high drama, PPP and PML-N leaders shuttled between Zardari's residence and Punjab House, where Sharif was closeted, till past midnight. With no word from the two parties as to what had transpired during their hectic consultations, the venue of the talks finally shifted to the prime minister's House.

Zardari, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and their close aides remained at the prime minister's house for a long time and thrashed out the differences between the two parties. Two leaders each of the PPP and PML-N then drafted a joint declaration that will be issued later on Thursday.

Reports said that the PML-N was not kept in the loop about the restoration of the deposed Sindh high court judges and this irked party leaders participating in the talks with the PPP.

Some reports also said Law Minister Farooq Naek had misled Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the issue of reinstating the eight judges by claiming that the PML-N's concurrence had been obtained for the move.

News about the proposal to re-appoint the deposed judges being sent to the president by the law ministry was apparently leaked by the presidency.

Musharraf also told leaders of the opposition PML-Q on Wednesday that he would continue to play his constitutional role and use his "constitutional powers" to block any move to impeach him.

Though the PMl-Q leaders did not give details, Musharraf was apparently referring to his powers under Article 58(2b) of the constitution that empower him to dissolve the parliament and dismiss an elected prime minister.

In a related development, Musharraf has cancelled his visit to
China to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will represesnt Pakistan at the opening ceremony.

Musharraf was scheduled to leave for
Beijing at 0800 hours but official sources said he had deferred his departure till the evening. The president had abruptly cancelled his scheduled visit to China yesterday after it was reported that the PPP-led coalition was giving shape to a move to impeach him. The Foreign Office later announced that Musharraf had rescheduled his visit.

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