On Tuesday, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N head Nawaz Sharif agreed “to give priority to [the] impeachment of President Musharraf after they realized that the president has made up his mind to dissolve the assemblies and send the coalition government packing,” reported The News. The news agency added, “Sources told The News that both the leaders reviewed President Musharraf’s engagements and activities and found out that in meetings with leaders of different parties including the PML-Q, the MQM and the Pagara League, the president was giving indications of uprooting the government and the system.”
However, the News can sometimes be guilty of sensationalized reporting, especially on the Musharraf issue. Although other Pakistani news sources made no mention of the president’s “indications of uprooting” the current government, they did also report on the new PPP/PML-N agreement. According to Dawn, the two parties “agreed to formally ask President Pervez Musharraf to step down and to impeach him through parliamentary measures if he did not oblige…” The Daily Times provided a more tepid account, noting that Zardari and Nawaz “agreed in principle to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, provided that all coalition partners assured their support for this endeavor.”
This is not the first time such talk of impeachment has been discussed. However, Dawn cited PML-N leader Khawaja Asif who reportedly confirmed in an interview that “all legal and constitutional hitches are being removed to impeach the president.” Moreover, reported the Daily Times, sources privy to the “make-or-break” meeting told the news agency that “the agreement came about after senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif assured Zardari that the coalition partners had sufficient strength to impeach President Musharraf if the PPP took the initiative.”
Perhaps also significant were reports that President Musharraf “abruptly” canceled his trip to the Beijing Olympics amid these “fears that he could be impeached.” Although the AFP reported that the Pakistani president changed his mind soon after and will travel to China for the Olympics opening ceremony, a senior foreign ministry official told the news agency that Musharraf will now fly out Thursday instead of today. Although the official declined to comment on the change of plans, the series of abrupt decisions may be indicative of Musharraf’s concern over the future of his office. His previously planned departure for today also coincided with Zardari and Nawaz’s second round of talks this morning. Perhaps the change of plans may not have been a coincidence at all.