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Musharraf's words on impeachment not likely to hold up
By JANE PERLEZ, New York Times August 15, 2008

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - President Pervez Musharraf fought back Friday against politicians who asserted he would resign rather than face impeachment charges, saying through his chief supporter that he would challenge the charges when they were brought to parliament. Politicians across all parties, however, characterized the public insistence by Musharraf as a kind of last stand, a bravura performance that could not be maintained under the political reality that almost all of his support has evaporated. If Musharraf did not step down voluntarily soon, the man who succeeded him as army chief last year, Gen. Ishfaq Parvez Kayani, would quietly make it clear he had to leave, said two senior Pakistani figures, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation. The army, which remains the most revered institution in Pakistan, did not want impeachment proceedings to begin, fearing it would tarnish the institution, several politicians said. Nonetheless, a statement issued by a presidential spokesman said that reports that Musharraf would step down were "baseless and malicious." In an interview on the English language television channel Dawn, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the chairman of Musharraf's party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, said the president would deal with the charges "in a democratic spirit and in accordance with the constitution." Hussain, whose party holds 51 of 342 seats in the National Assembly, added: "Let them bring the charges. So far they haven't brought any charges." But politicians up and down the political spectrum, including some from Musharraf's party, said that they doubted Musharraf would actually appear in parliament to respond to the charges. It was clear, they said, he could not prevail in a vote. Leaders of the two major parties in the coalition government announced last week that they would seek Musharraf's impeachment on charges that include illegally suspending the constitution and imposing emergency rule last November and wrongly dismissing 60 judges under that decree. Information Minister Sherry Rehman said that a drafting panel had completed a charge sheet against Musharraf. She did not specify the charges and did not give a specific date when the coalition planned to present the charges to parliament. The decision not to announce a date for the presentation of charges was apparently designed to leave the door open for continuing negotiations on how Musharraf should exit and the terms of immunity from prosecution that he is seeking. © 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.