(AFP) – Aug 12, 2008
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf faced renewed pressure Tuesday as a second provincial assembly passed a resolution against him and a key ally said he would vote for impeachment.
Legislators in militancy-hit North West Frontier Province (NWFP) chanted "Go Musharraf, Go!" as they overwhelmingly approved a no-confidence vote in the ex-general, a day after a similar motion in powerful Punjab province.
Separately the party of former interior minister Aftab Sherpao said that he would support impeachment proceedings announced last week by the country's ruling coalition.
"This is a tidal wave in favour of democracy," said Information Minister Sherry Rehman, a member of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, the biggest party in the coalition.
The NWFP assembly passed the motion by a huge margin of 107 votes to four, speaker Karamatullah Khan announced.
A female assembly member from the party of Nawaz Sharif -- another key coalition member and the man ousted by Musharraf in a 1999 coup -- tore a portrait of the president to pieces on the floor of the house, an AFP reporter saw.
The country's two remaining provinces, Sindh and Baluchistan, are set to vote later this week.
The resolutions are not binding but are designed to ramp up the pressure on Musharraf to resign before he faces impeachment in the national parliament.
The NWFP motion accused Musharraf of following policies that had triggered unrest in the province bordering Afghanistan, which has suffered the worst of a wave of Taliban violence that has hit Pakistan in the past year.
"The flawed internal and external policies of his dictatorial regime have resulted in the large scale murder of innocent people of our province and FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas)," it said.
A bomb targeting a Pakistan air force bus in Peshawar at about the same time as the motion was passed killed 13 people on Tuesday, and more than 150 people have died in a week of fierce fighting in the restive tribal belt.
The coalition says it is preparing a charge sheet against Musharraf which is likely to be finalised and then introduced in parliament towards week's end.
Officials say they are likely to centre on the coup, a state of emergency imposed last year and his controversial re-election in October by the outgoing parliament.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, the main pro-Musharraf party, insisted that Musharraf would meet the charges head-on.
"President Pervez Musharraf will defend himself and respond to allegations levelled against him," Hussain told reporters.
Musharraf's spokesman on Monday rejected calls for him to stand down.
But the announcement by the party of Sherpao, a staunch ally who headed the interior ministry until 2007, that he would back impeachment came as a fresh blow.
"We have decided to support the impeachment motion in the interest of democracy," said Sherpao's son Sikander, a member of the provincial assembly and a key leader of Sherpao's small political party.
The decision came after Sherpao spoke to coalition leader Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower, who led the PPP to win the most seats in February elections and topple the previous pro-Musharraf government.
The coalition is short of the two-thirds majority in the upper and lower houses of the national parliament that it needs to impeach Musharraf, and is looking to win over defectors from the presidential camp and independents.
Sherpao was a member of Bhutto's party until 2002 when he created his own faction and supported Musharraf in the previous parliament.
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