Musharraf Impeachment or Resignation Possible; Army and Tier Two Parties Crucial

Pakistan’s governing coalition nearly has the sufficient parliamentary votes to remove Pervez Musharraf from the presidency. But meeting the required threshold of 295 votes will involve horse trading with smaller parties and independents, as well as maintaining internal party discipline. Musharraf can use a number of constitutional powers to remain in office. However, he could also resign before the impeachment process begins–especially if the Pakistan Army decides impeachment would harm its own interests.

Impeachment Proceedings Could Extend Through August into September:

  • The governing coalition is set to initiate the impeachment process late next week by presenting a charge sheet to the National Assembly speaker of offenses it alleges Musharraf committed.
  • A joint session of parliament will then convene within 8-17 days.
  • During the joint session, the charges against the president will be investigated collectively or by a select committee.  Musharraf or a designated representative can offer a defense.
  • Finally, the joint session will vote, serving as a jury.  A 2/3 majority or 295 votes is required for conviction.  If this threshold is met, then Musharraf ceases to be president immediately.  If it is not, Musharraf remains as president.
  • There is no time limit on the investigation/deliberation period.

Pro-Impeachment Forces Face Surmountable Obstacles:

  • Possibility of Internal Dissent: The governing coalition currently has 264 parliamentary members.  Some dissidents, including the PPP’s Amin Fahim, have opposed Musharraf’s impeachment.  As a result, there is the challenge of maintaining party voting discipline.
  • Small Parties and Independents Critical: The four party governing coalition claims the support of parliamentrians from the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).  The FATA parliamentrians combined with other independents and small party members (e.g. PkMAP, Jamaat-i Islami), constitute a pool of 41 possible supporters.  Together, they could raise the pro-impeachment vote up to 305, providing a cushion for internal dissent.
  • Deal Making Could Create Problems: Securing the votes of non-governing coalition parliamentrians could require compromises on other critical issues.  Prior to a vote, this might require intensive bargaining and the possibility of concession related to the war on terror, restoration of the deposed judges, and the autonomy of Balochistan.  Subsequently, such concessions could affect the coalition government’s relations with Washington as well as Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment.

Musharraf Has Five Options:

  • Prior to the Impeachment Proceedings: Musharraf can avoid impeachment by resigning before the process begins, perhaps as part of a deal with the coalition government.  Also, he can choose more confrontational measures: dissolving the National Assembly or imposing emergency rule, which would prevent the start of the impeachment process.
  • After the Start of the Impeachment Proceedings: Musharraf can permit the impeachment process to proceed, as he has indicated he will do.  He has the choice of accepting a parliamentary vote in or against his favor.  Alternatively, Musharraf can appeal a conviction to the Supreme Court, as per the recommendations of his legal advisers, Malik Qayyum and Sharifuddin and Abdul Hamid Pirzada.

Kayani’s Indirect Intervention Possible:

  • Zardari Provides a Window of Opportunity for the Army to Intervene: The governing coalition has not formally released its charge sheet against Musharraf.  During his press conference on Thursday, PPP-Co Chairman Asif Zardari appeared careful to criticize Musharraf without implicating the army in any wrong doing.  There was no mention of the missing persons, the insurgency in Balochistan, and the Lal Masjid incident.  If Musharraf were to be prosecuted for such offenses, then the same could be potentially done for other army officers–perhaps even Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who was previously the ISI chief.  It seems as if Zardari has provided the army with an opportunity–prior to the issue of a formal charge sheet–to decide whether or not it can absorb the potential challenges stemming from Musharraf’s impeachment proceedings.
  • Kayani’s First Great Crisis: Impeachment proceedings could open up the Pakistan Army’s role in Balochistan, the Red Mosque incident, and the overall war on terror.  Furthermore, it would be the first time a former army chief of staff faced trial or even punishment.  Many rightists would like to see Musharraf be punished by death for treason.  The potential of a former army chief received imprisonment or even death does not bode well for Gen. Kayani, who seeks to restore the institution’s morale and corporate integrity. But, at the same time, many in Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment see a recent chain of events designed to neutralize Pakistan’s military and intelligence–particularly the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).  Recent unsubstantiated allegations of the ISI’s role in the Indian Kabul embassy attack are an implicit targeting of Gen. Kayani, ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, and by extension his relative and ex-boss Pervez Musharraf.  If the army sees Musharraf as the glue holding the dam together, they could stand by him to prevent a deluge.  In the end, Gen. Kayani must decide whether his army and country are better off with or without Musharraf.  If he decides the latter, then he could ask Musharraf to resign and help him secure indemnity.

Why’s Bilal Musharraf in Karachi?

  • Musharraf’s U.S.-based son, Bilal, is in Karachi.  He met today with renown humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi.  But is his Pakistan visit connected to his father’s political fate?  Has Musharraf built a home for himself in Karachi?  Or will he joining his son back to the U.S?  If Musharraf resigns, it is highly likely he will stay in Pakistan and receive permanent military security.  For all his flaws, he is not one to run off to a foreign land.

If Musharraf Goes, Who Will Succeed Him?

  • If and when Musharraf resigns or is impeached, the race to succeed Musharraf will begin.  Constitutionally, Senate Chairman Muhammad Mian Soomro would replace him temporarily.  Indirect elections, via an electoral college of all national and provincial legislative bodies, would choose the next president.  Potential candidates include Salmaan Taseer (who would be palatable to the PPP and establishment, but not the PML-N) and Asif Zardari.  The latter would be foolish to seek the presidency.  It would be seen as a blatant power grab and all arrows would be pointed toward him.
  • A National Hero for the Presidency: The best candidate for the presidency could be the man Musharraf’s son just met — Abdul Sattar Edhi.  No Pakistani is more beloved than him, it seems.  He and his wife have selflessly served Pakistan for decades.  Such a man is worthy of the presidency.  Presidential powers should be reduced, but Edhi should be tasked with the sole responsibility of poverty alleviation and reduction.  Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari should prove that they are changed men by donating $100 million each to a Poverty Reduction Fund, administered by President Edhi.  Other looters and absconders–including Musharraf’s banker cronies–should also donate the money they have stolen from Pakistan to this fund, perhaps in return for amnesty.  But a time in which Pakistan’s masses are suffocated by massive inflation and unemployment is not appropriate for Sharif and Zardari to celebrate.  They must repay their dues to the country they looted.

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Category: Pervez Musharraf


11 Responses

  1. Ahsan says:

    “Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari should prove that they are changed men by donating $100 million each to a Poverty Reduction Fund, administered by President Edhi.”

    Hahahahaha. Arif, I wasn’t aware that you’re keen on starting a career in comedy. Best of luck to you in this new venture.

  2. Arif Rafiq says:


  3. I believe that Article 58(2b) in a sense is good for the country. There should be a system of checks on the powers of the Prime Minister.

    If the Presidency is only of ceremonial nature, why don’t we just get rid of this institution? If nothing else, it would save the national exchequer from significant expenses incurred by the Presidency. I have never come to terms with the “concrete significance of Presidency” in our environment.

    Why, and I repeat WHY, maintain such ceremonious institutions in a country which is ridden with poverty, where there is a huge different between wages and prices, and where there is shortage of everything from food to power? After all, the Presidency does not really hold any emotional, historical or social signifcance for Pakistanis (like the monarchy does for Canadians, and the Presidency in the U.S.).

    I believe that Article 58-(2b) provides a sound “check” mechanism on the powers of the federal executive (if used fairly). The focus should be on changing characters and the need is for resolve on the part of the new government to be fair, transparent and provide good governance. If this happens, there would be no need for any President to invoke Article 58-(2b). The past repute of the people now rhetorically babbling about the impeachment is also ridden with various corruption schemes whilst in power previously. An idiom from Urdu would describe it best: “aaj kae hukumraan kaun sae doodh kae dhulae hain?” Same old faces, same old game, same old tricks.

    We all know that new governments, with massive mandates, create an illusion of good governance in the beginning. However, as time passes and the “honey-moon” period is over, it is back to the norms: corruption, price hikes, artificial shortages, etc. etc. The need is for a firm resolve to put the interests of the country before self-ambitions and self-interest, not revoking Article 58-(2b). If Article 58-(2b) is to go, then might as well abolish Presidency.

  4. Denali says:

    Good article, and I like your suggestion about donating money to a fund which is managed by Mr.Edhi. Not just Mr. N and Mr. A, but all the people who looted Pakistan for the last 60 years (do not forget Mr. Zia’s son a billionaire according some American news sources).

    I further suggest that that the new assembly should pass a law that will prohibit any member (and their immediate family members)of the national, provisional assemblies and government official to hold foreign bank accounts and real estate properties as long as they are receiving their pay from the government of Pakistan. There should be no loophole in this law. Anybody found to have bank account or property in any foreign country automatically removed from elected or assigned post.

  5. Denali your suggestions are good. However, most of these have been implemented in our law in one form or another. However, the laws are blatantly changed to suit the ruling majority.

    It is not the mere presence of laws that in itself hinders anarchy and promotes civil harmony; it is the application of that law across all the spheres of the society UNCONDITIONALLY. This never happens in Pakistan. There are laws that prevent people from running in elections if found guilty; however, we still see the very same people (and their corruption is an open secret) in our assemblies.

    It must be remembered that laws by theirselves are mere pieces of legislation. Unless fear of accountablity is instilled in ALL THE PEOPLE from the VERY YOUNG AGE WHEN THE PERSONALITY STARTS TO TAKE SHAPE, WE SHOULD NOT HOPE TO SEE MUCH OF A CHANGE IN THIS COUNTRY. In the developed world, laws are respected and people have a genuine FEAR (from the chief executive down to the citizens) of accountablity. This FEAR OF ACCOUNTABLITY is something which is promoted from the very beginning (by education as well as the environment).

    To be quite honest, I dont really foresee a positive change in Pakistani system. Unless of course a careful scheme of long term planning is launched and a child is taught of governance, accountability and responsbility and the consequences of doing wrong from a very young age. Such a change would obviously easily require a century.

  6. Arif Rafiq says:

    Thanks, Denali. I like your suggestions.

    I would add that all politicians should be INSIDE the country. This is difficult to legally mandate, but every political figure should share the same benefits and risks from being inside the country (and inside the political process).

    Altaf Hussain, from his London apartment can call on his young men in Karachi to take up arms.

    Sharif and Zardari run off to London and Dubai.

    Musharraf hides in the GHQ. He is a political actor that has hidden behind the protective walls of the presidency and army.

    They are all guilty of this.

    What this means is that the average Pakistani bears the immediate shocks of their political leadership’s decisions.

    It produces unresponsive governance.

    Rafay, I was once in favor of Article 58(2)B, but the downside is that it over-empowers the president and has stifled civilian governments from functioning. Also the dual system (PM & CMs vs. President & Governors) provides a convenient excuse for incompetent elected governments.

    But what is important is a check on the prime minister. After all, we have seen the excesses of the ZA Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif eras.

    So the question is how to attain a check on the PM that facilitates good activity and obstructs bad activity.

    I think that would require empowering the judiciary (suo moto powers are important) and parliament (oversight committees, mandated question time.).

    In terms of security issues, I am in favor of the National Security Council as a body that brings together the military and intelligence leadership with the senior elected civilian leadership. They should meet biweekly or monthly. Right now two major power brokers are outside the elected system. As a result, Sharif and Zardari should be inside parliament to correct this irregularity.

    IF the presidency would be non-symbolic, then it should be directly elected by the people.

    But at the present, the system doesn’t create balance, it creates dysfunction. There are two competing power structures and things only work if one side is the chamcha of the other.

    I share your pessimism, but so do many Pakistanis and that could be something positive. It might say that we are wiser — we don’t truly like any of the major leaders — and we are looking for some real change and not the cyclical interchange of civil and military rule.

    The popularity of the lawyers’ movement suggests to me that a great deal of Pakistanis are looking not for a savior, but a system — a system that works.

  7. I dont agree with your point about Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardardi. If they are the so called champions of democracy, then the basic values of democracy should start from the ground up; that is, the leaders of political parties should be elected democratically and then the elected leaders of respective parties should contest the general elections.

    Lets bring some fresh blood, newer and better ideas.

    I totally agree with the empowerment of the judiciary. However, I believe that the judiciary is already empowered by law – whether the government recognizes this is another story. Thus, the focus should be on educating the rulers that THEY MUST LISTEN, OBEY AND RESPECT THE JUDICIARY AT ALL COSTS – no matter what happens. This only has to happen once in this country to set a precedent that would most likely be followed by the future governments.

    I am not pessimistic. On the contrary, I am optimistic in the sense that I firmly believe that it is high time that these lords who derive their power solely based on the blood line be sent home, and new blood be brought into limelight. This can be done by having elections (akin to primaries in the U.S.) within the political parties.

    I also am of the opinion that the institution of Presidency be abolished. It does not hold any emotional or historical significance in our case, and incurring exponential expenses on such an insitution is HIGHLY ABSURD in our POOR COUNTRY.

  8. I am also appalled at your suggestion that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari be brought into the political system. Have you forgotten the corruption and misgovernance that both these governments created in the past? WHY THEN WOULD ANYONE EVER WANT TO EVEN HEAR THEIR NAMES IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER?

    See, this is exactly what I am talking about. First we talk about better governance. Then we end up electing the same corrupt and illetrate (having a degree does not really make one literate) a decade down the row. Why is that?


  9. zubair khan says:

    good job again sir , but wud to request yo on writing some thing about ALTAF HUSSAIN .I dont know about others but it sounds like he is hatching another scheme cause for the past few days he has been barking about talibanization and get ready for fighting and he is just getting his amy of MQM terrorists ready who as we all know since may 12 have been running wild and basically the people of karachi are on his mercy .so plz write some thing on this issue and make people aware

  10. Arif Rafiq says:

    Rafay, you say let’s bring some fresh blood, etc. How? It would be great if the jokers, robbers, and murderers could be replaced with a new generation of sincere and capable politicians and policy makers. Tell me how.

    And isn’t that what some say Musharraf tried in the beginning? And who did he end up in bed with? The Chaudhries, Altaf Hussain, Zia’s son, Raza Kasuri (a so-called Nawab), and to a lesser extent Amin Fahim. Hina Rabbani Khar….same old feudal stuff presented in a prettier package. She has a degree in hotel management yet serves as an economic adviser to the PM! Nice new blood!

    The first few years of the Musharraf era can be seen as a failed reform project. In the end, he used NAB to pressure corrupt politicians to join him. It’s been tried. The judiciary is key though. The law must replace hero worship and belief in a savior.

    Eight years ago, we would have thought it was the end of Sharif and Zardari. Now they are back on top. Sad, but true. Musharraf attempted to delete them from the system. Instead, he has deleted himself with his foolishness. An ironic twist of fate. He has effectively switched roles with Nawaz!

    So Nawaz and Zardari are political realities. But my point is that they all need to be put in the same competitive sphere, so they can share the same risks and benefits. So if they are political, they can win and lose elections and be subject to public opinion and scrutiny.

    In the end, one has to be resigned toward the present state of leadership. But it is a changed Pakistan. Benazir realized that when she arrived. It’s a somewhat new ball game. The media, the judiciary, the vocal middle class (partly birthed by Musharraf himself), etc. They can serve as a check on Nawaz and Zardari.

    Musharraf, by imposing emergency rule/martial law, sacking the Supreme Court, and curbing media freedoms, showed he would eliminate these checks on him. That’s why he has to go. And if Sharif and Zardari ever try the same, they should go to. But as long as they play by the new rules of a the slightly new Pakistan, then they can be controlled and managed.

    Internal party elections are a must. But the idea that one can dramatically change the political system through one man has been proven wrong. He will, in the end, compromise and, later, be eaten. What Pakistan needs is a legal/institutional foundation that constrains major political actors. I think our discussion should focus on that.

    Our discussion would be better if you offered specific solutions.


    Zubair Sahib, I share your concern about Altaf Hussain. His cry of Talibanization, as I have written earlier, seems like preparation to attack the Pakhtun of Karachi.

    If Talibanization is occuring in parts of Karachi, thuggery is no solution to thuggery. It will only produce greater violence. It will bring the battle in FATA into Sindh and paint the challenge of Talibanization in ethnic terms.

    Altaf Hussain, I fear, is campaigning to be a Pakistani Muhammad Dahlan (the Palestinian goon used as a secular hammer against HAMAS in Gaza). Balancing out HAMAS in Gaza might serve the interests of some foreign powers and a section of the Palestinian elite, but Gaza is currently a prison for its people. Altaf Hussain could very well be pulling Karachi in the same direction, as he sits comfortably in London. He needs to come back to Pakistan and play by the same rules as everyone else.

  11. Thomas Young says:

    In a country such as pakistan, where the level of quality leadership among so called political parties is still pretty low, and where the guy on the street can’t recall the Prime Minister’s name but can sing a bunch of indian movie songs, things such as impeachment and etc don’t have much of an impact. Recently, i was reading one of Pakistan’s popular english dailies, THE NEWS, and i found one thing very interesting. The news on the front and back pages (where do these guys get their facts?) reflected nothing except anarchist veiws. however, inside there was a column called “People are talking about”, in which street rhetoric is examined regarding everyday hot topics. Now here’s what was so interesting about the whole mumbo jumbo: This newspaper claims to be the most read and appreciated paper in Pakistan. But is that really so? I mean if the people who read it don’t have the same views, then how come they make such a bogus claim about their popularity? The editorials, along with the (where did they learn to write such english?) reporters are hell bent on saying the same thing: GO Musharraf GO. Whereas on the inside, in the letters (half of which sound as if they were fabricated to meet the anti-musharraf point) and in the column i just wrote about, there’s a stark difference. The average joe generally seems to like the fact that his president, may he be a so called dictator, is in the throne, instead of the wild and inexperienced (duh) politicians. Living and talking to many pakistanis (in Mainland pakistan) has given me the feeling that the media is one thing, and the people another.
    Side NOTE: Do these politicians know the meaning of the word :NATION? i doubt that.

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Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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Arif Rafiq regularly appears on the John Batchelor Show Friday nights from 09:30-10:00pm Eastern Time. Tune your dial to 770AM in New York or 630AM in DC. The show appears on affiliates in other cities. Listen live online at WABCRadio.com.
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