Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pakistan Parliament to address Musharraf Impeachment

Pakistan's lower house of parliament convenes Monday evening with the task of removing President Pervez Musharraf from office high on its to-do list. President Pervez Musharraf stepped down as the chief of military last November. The first step towards impeachment will involve compiling a list of charges against Musharraf.
Sherry Rehman, spokeswoman for the ruling Pakistan People's Party, told reporters that lawmakers are preparing a charge-sheet that is "strong, voluminous and (a) powerful indictment of his systematic misrule and usurpation of parliament's powers."
The document will charge Musharraf with corruption, economic mismanagement and violating the constitution, among other malfeasance, she said. Once lawmakers submit charges, the National Assembly -- the lower house of parliament -- will vote on whether to move forward with impeachment. Next would come an actual vote on impeaching Musharraf.
Members of the National Assembly and Senate would cast ballots. Two-thirds of lawmakers would have to vote 'yes' for Musharraf to be impeached. The parties opposed to Musharraf have 274 members in the National Assembly and the Senate. In the meantime, the four provincial assemblies are expected to ask to cast votes of confidence on Musharraf this week. Musharraf can decide not to call for such a vote. Even if he does -- and lawmakers agree that they have lost confidence in the president -- the vote is non-binding. But symbolically, it might add pressure on Musharraf to step down. "There are no grounds for a resignation or an impeachment," Qureshi said.
For his part, Musharraf has several options:
No president has been impeached in the country's history. He can hope that the vote to impeach him falls short. He can dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency. Musharraf stepped down as the chief of military last November. "We have consistently said the internal politics of Pakistan are an issue for the Pakistani people to decide," said U.S. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos last week.
For many Pakistanis, the political machinations take a back seat to far bigger problems in the country: shortage of essential food items, power cuts, and a skyrocketing inflation.

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