Monday, March 24, 2008

Impeachment Trial Hangs Over Musharraf’s Head

The prospect of Pervez Musharraf being the first president in the history of Pakistan to be subject to an impeachment trial hangs over his head like the Sword of Damocles. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its allied parties in parliament are planning to impeach him with a combined two-thirds vote in a joint sitting of the parliament within two weeks of the formation of government at the centre.

Well-informed circles in the Zardari-led PPP and the Sharif-led PML-N say the impeachment of Musharraf may move to the top of the government’s agenda, putting behind the restoration of the deposed judges, keeping in view the disturbing signals from the presidency. These circles added that the new parliament could initiate impeachment proceedings against Musharraf on the charges of violating and abrogating the 1973 Constitution twice in his eight-year rule. According to the Constitution, a collective two-thirds vote is required from a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate to impeach the president.

The informed circles in the majority parties said a total number of 295 votes in favour of the impeachment process can pack up the president after a due course of procedure spanning not less than one week but not beyond 14 days once one-half of either House tables an impeachment motion. The impeachment motion needs signatures of at least 50 senators to table it before the Upper House of Parliament or 171 MNAs to submit before Lower House of Parliament. Partners in the new government clearly fulfil the requirement. As far as the number game is concerned, the full strength of both National Assembly and Senate stands at 442 and 295 makes a two-thirds majority for a successful impeachment motion.

Going by 249 votes the PPP speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza obtained on March 19, there is a requirement of 46 more votes from the National Assembly or the Senate. (DNA)
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