Musharraf locked in battle to avoid impeachment as allies turn away

Pakistan President ‘unfit’ to rule, declares regional assembly

By Andrew Buncombe and Omar Waraich in Islamabad
The London Independent, Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Supporters of Pakistan's largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami in Islamabad yesterday burn an effigy of President Pervez Musharraf


Supporters of Pakistan’s largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami in Islamabad yesterday burn an effigy of President Pervez Musharraf

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Pakistan’s government is finalising a “charge-sheet” against Pervez Musharraf as battle lines are drawn in the bitter struggle over the President’s future.

Several allies of Mr Musharraf began to distance themselves from him, saying he should stand down for the good of the country, but the former general again insisted he would fight the impeachment charges being prepared by his opponents. Meanwhile, the process to oust Mr Musharraf gathered additional pace as a crucial regional assembly overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence against him, saying he was “unfit” to rule.

Aftab Sherpao, a formerinterior minister in Mr Musharraf’s government and leader of a small regional party, said he was considering joining those seeking to force out the President. “[Mr Musharraf] is going to fight these charges on a moral ground to try to disprove them… But when it comes to the numbers, I think he’s lost it,” he said.

The coalition government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of the late Benazir Bhutto and the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) had been expected to table their allegations against Mr Musharraf at a session of the parliament yesterday evening. But a coalition spokesman said the process was taking longer than expected because the charge sheet and its supporting documents was running to “100 hundred pages”.

Government officials have said the charges against Mr Musharraf will focus on eight key points, including violating the constitution, damaging the economy and the sacking of senior members of the judiciary. The head of the PPP, Ms Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari, upped the stakes over the weekend when he said Mr Musharraf could also be investigated for corruption.

Continued . . .

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