The US may not want to interfere in the impeachment process against President Pervez Musharraf terming it an internal affair, but is apparently willing to help ensure "full indemnity" and "honourable stay" in Pakistan for its key ally in the war on terror should he agree to quit.
During her recent visit to Washington, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson consulted senior White House and State Department officials on the PPP-led ruling coalition's decision to impeach the beleaguered President, the 'Dawn' daily quoted diplomatic and US official sources as saying.
While the coalition declared its plans to impeach Musharraf following Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani's return from the US, diplomatic sources told the paper his government had consulted both Americans and army prior to the announcement.
Sources said Americans told the Pakistanis they wanted to stay neutral on this issue and would support any move which was "consistent with the rule of law and the Constitution."
The coalition government in Pakistan also wanted some senior US official or lawmaker to publicly persuade Musharraf to quit, an approach similar to the one adopted in case of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
The US, however, preferred to remain neutral on the issue while appearing willing to use its influence to arrange for a secure and honourable stay for Musharraf in Pakistan should he agree to quit, the sources were quoted as saying.
"They have apparently agreed to help assure a secure and honourable stay for him in Pakistan," said one source. "They also want to ensure that the President should be given full indemnity should he agree to step down."
"This is more or less what the Pakistan army also wants," the Dawn said, quoting the source.
Diplomatic sources say Pakistan government may directly appeal to US President George W Bush to help defuse the current political crisis here.