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Musharraf may not face the music soon

The Pakistan Peoples Party hints that the new Govt will not seek the immediate impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2008 17:46 IST

In a breather for beleaguered President Pervez Musharaf, Pakistan People's Party has indicated that the new government will not seek his immediate impeachment as western envoys confabulated with leaders in Islamabad to shore up his position.

Asked whether the new government will move forward to impeach Musharraf, PPP leader and frontrunner for Prime Ministership Makhdoom Amin Fahim said the party did not wish "to rock the boat" at this stage.

"I think there's no need at the moment but the parliament is sovereign. Once we go to the parliament, the parliament will look at every issue. We should not rock the boat at this time. We must have civil transition of power from the military to the civilians," the 68-year-old Bhutto loyalist told CNN.

The envoys, including from the US and UK, have pressed Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League-(N) to try to co-exist with Musharraf, a key ally in the war on terror, for some time" to ensure a "smooth transition" and stability in the country, sources said.

Though both PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and and PML (N) chief Nawaz Sharif have said the vote was against Musharraf, the PPP is reluctant to make immediate moves for the former General's impeachment.

US Ambassador Anne Patterson had met Zardari at least twice since his PPP emerged as the largest party in the February 18 polls, bagging 87 of the 272 seats.

British High Commissioner Robert Brinkley has also met leaders of the PPP and PML-N, including Sharif.

The US has indicated that it would continue to work with Musharraf despite the rout of his PML-Q party in the polls.

Stepping up consultations for forming the coalition government, Zardari discussed possible cooperation with Altaf Hussain, chief of pro-Musharraf MQM, a move apparently opposed by Sharif.

Zardari spoke to the London-based Hussain on phone late last night and discussed the political situation.

The MQM had bagged 19 seats in the lower house of parliament and emerged as the second largest party in the southern Sindh province, where the PPP is set to form the government.

Zardari also met Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the religious Jamiat Ulema-e Islam party. Sources said the talks on government formation could stretch till the National Assembly is convened next month.

While announcing plans to form a coalition with Sharif on Thursday, Zardari had said he wanted to take along all political forces while setting up a government of national consensus.

Musharraf's main ally the PML-Q, meanwhile, was facing the prospect of a split with a section of leaders openly blaming the president for its poor performance at the hustings.

The party met in Islamabad on Saturday under the chairmanship of president and former premier Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to elect a leader of the parliamentary party.

But sources said the leaders were trying to avoid possible defection as a section of the newly elected lawmakers, who are disgruntled with Musharraf, want to ally with the new coalition of PML and PPP. PML-Q has won 39 seats in the 272-member National Assembly.

The PML-Q largely comprises leaders of the erstwhile Pakistan Muslim League who abandoned Sharif after he was deposed by Musharraf in a coup in 1999 and sent into exile in Saudi Arabia. The leaders came together to form the PML-Q to back Musharraf in the 2002 general election.