August 7, 2008

Pakistan TV Show Discusses Ruling Alliance’s Intention to Impeach Musharraf

Karachi Geo News television in Urdu at 1400 gmt on 6 August carries live regularly scheduled "Capital Talk" program relayed from channel's Islamabad studio. Prominent Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir is host of the popular talk show in Pakistan; Words within double slant lines are in English

Reception: Good

Duration of program: 60 minutes

Guests: Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, President Pervez Musharraf's lawyer; Ansar Abbasi, analyst and editor investigation of English daily The News; Maulana Nurul Haq Qadri, member of National Assembly from Federally Administered Tribal Areas, who joins the discussion via telephone line

Discussion on future of President Pervez Musharraf

Hamid Mir begins the discussion by saying President Pervez Musharraf has been in power for over 8 years, but now his "impeachment" is being talked about. Mir adds: Pakistan People's Party [PPP] and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sharif [PML-N] along with their allied parties are engaged in clarifying a strategy needed for Musharraf's impeachment. Mir says: question is whether Musharraf's impeachment is possible, or whether Musharraf would again be saved due to "internal difference" in the ruling alliance.

Mir notes that Saif met President Musharraf today. Mir asks Saif: how was Musharraf's morale. Saif says: Musharraf's morale is "very high" because everybody knows that all this talk about his impeachment is a "//soapy drama//". Saif: there will be no impeachment because neither the impeachment is possible, nor who are talking about impeachment have the capacity to initiate an impeachment process. Continuing, Saif says: basically it is a soap opera to divert attention from government's "incompetence" and "weaknesses" to address the national issues.

Mir says there have been "conflicting" reports about Musharraf's visit to China [to attend Beijing Olympics]. Mir asks Saif whether he could confirm whether Musharraf is going to China or not. Saif says: according to his information, Musharraf is not going to China not because he is afraid of impeachment, but because of the present situation in the country. When Mir asks Saif what is his advice to Musarraf, Saif says he would tell Musharraf to hold his ground as the country needs a strong leadership and he should not be afraid of "monkeys equipped with razorblades" who think that they can harm others with their "razorblades," but are, in fact, slashing their own throats.

Mir says Saif looks "very confident" and he is describing those who are preparing for Musharraf's impeachment as monkeys. Mir asks Ansari to comment on Saif's comments. Ansari says in spite of his "thousands //reservations//" about the present government's policies and in spite of its "//ineffectiveness//" and "//indecisiveness//," Saif's description of elected representatives as monkeys with razorblades tantamount to "contempt of people's //mandate//." Ansari adds: Saif is supporting a person on whose order not only "girl child" were killed, but copies of holy Koran were burnt in the Red Mosque operation. When Mir asks what are the main charges on which Musharraf could be impeached, Ansari says: Musharraf's weakest point is his "//second martial law//" [state of emergency enacted on 2 November 1977], which is yet to be indemnified by parliament, and other charges could be the Red Mosque operation and his admissions in his book Line of Fire which have worked against the country. Continuing, Ansari says Musharraf as a president should be a nonpartisan figure, but at present he is only representing Pakistan Muslim League-Qaide Azam [PML-Q] and he is "conspiring" against the present government with the help of PML-Q.

Saif says he has not committed contempt of people's mandate as alleged by Ansari. Saif adds: the contempt of people's mandate has, in fact, been committed by those who received the mandate but have done nothing in last 4 months to address people's problems. About Ansari's charge-sheet against Musharraf, Saif says: constitutionally the president can only be impeached if he has taken any unconstitutional or illegal step and the Supreme Court in various decisions have justified all of Musharraf's steps, whether it is October 1999 step [of overthrowing Nawaz Sharif government] or November 2007 step [enacting state of emergency]. When Mir points out that the ruling alliance is confident that it has the required numbers in parliament to impeach Musharraf, Saif says according to his information, the ruling alliance does not have the required numbers as PML-Q, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and even some parties in the coalition government are not in favour of Musharraf's impeachment.

Commenting on Saif's claim that the president could be impeached only if he has violated law and Constitution, Ansari says: Musharraf handed over "hundreds" of persons, including Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, [currently being tried in US for trying to kill American Army officers], "//in the violation of the law of the land//." Ansari says: Siddiqui was not extradited through proper extradition treaty. Ansari alleges that Saif is asking Musharraf to hold on to his ground just to insure that his employment [as Musharraf's lawyer] continues and to insure his appointment as minister in any future military government. Continuing, Ansari says Saif should not give such advice to Musharraf, which tantamount to "treachery" with the country.

Saif says the government should produce evidence for charges it is levelling against Musharraf and it should also establish fact- finding commissions on incidents like Red Mosque to find out the truth.

Mir says the ruling alliance has 257 seats in National Assembly and it has 47 seats in Senate, which totals 305 and it only needs 295 [half of total seats in National Assembly and Senate] for Musharraf's impeachment. Mir says it means that the government has required strength to impeach president. Saif intervenes to say that Mir is including independent members from Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATA] as government's supporters. Mir says FATA has 27 members in National Assembly and Senate and they have told Zardari that they would support government efforts to remove Musharraf, only if military operation in Swat is stopped.

Mir establishes telephonic contact with Nurul Haq Qadri, member of National Assembly from FATA, and asks him what issues he raised at his meeting with Asif Ali Zardari today. Qadri says: issues facing the country, including the situation in Tribal areas, were discussed and FATA members' cooperation regarding impeachment of Musharraf also came under discussion. When Mir asks whether he assured Zardari that FATA members would support the impeachment motion, Qadri says: the Pakistan People's Party [PPP] and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sharif [PML-N] are the main players and if they agree on something, FATA members, who could only play the second fiddle, would go along with it. When Mir pointedly asks whether FATA members would support the impeachment motion or not, Qadri says: if Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif come together and display agreement on the issue, the FATA members would support them. When Mir asks whether all 27 FATA members are on board on the issue of impeachment of Musharraf, Qadri says: it appears so and, God willing, all FATA members would support the impeachment. Mir asks whether Musharraf's impeachment would provide some relief to people in tribal areas. Sidestepping the question, Qadri says he suggested to Zardari that a jirga [delegation] should meet Musharraf to convey a message that except for some parties, all major parties and people of the country want him to leave as he has already been in power for more than 8 years and he has not achieved any "notable success" in addressing the national issues and that is why he should make a "graceful" exit in "peaceful atmosphere." Qadri concludes: all problems in FATA today are the creation of President Musharraf.

Mir asks Saif whether Musharraf would resign if a parliamentary delegation meets him as suggested by Qadri and requests him to resign. Saif says: Musharraf is an elected president and he should continue in office until his tenure is completed. Mir asks whether Musharraf realizes that according to a survey by International Republican Institute [IRI], his popularity graph has declined very steeply. Saif says: IRI should worry more about George Bush's graph than Musharraf's graph.

Ansari says November 2007 step of enacting state of emergency has to be validated in parliament and this issue is like "Damocles' sword" hanging over Musharraf's head and a case of "//high treason// " could be made against him.

Mir notes that Attorney General Malik Mohammad Qayyum met Musharraf today and told him that he should not resign because the government would not be able to impeach him. Mir wonders how Musharraf could be impeached when the attorney general of sitting government is with him.

The discussion then revolves around the aim of presidential notification issued today to restore 8 judges of Sindh high court [who were suspended after enactment of emergency for taking oath under Provisional Constitution Order], with retired Justice Wajiuddin, who joins the discussion briefly via telephone line at this stage, saying the move is to "divide" the lawyers movement.

Mir says the government is preparing a charge-sheet against Musharraf. Mir asks Saif whether Musharraf is also preparing a charge-sheet against government. Saif says: Musharraf has no need to do so as people themselves are preparing a charge-sheet against the government.

Mir asks whether Musharraf should "morally" resign if the PPP and the PML-N come to an agreement to file an impeachment motion against him in the parliament.

Saif says: Musharraf should not resign and should confront the government for what it has done to the country in last 4 months. Saif says: if Musharraf leaves now, the government would sink the country's boat as the PPP and the PML-N are only pursuing their personal and party interests and not national interests and that is why it is very necessary for Musharraf to continue in office to keep check on these parties.

Ansari says if Musharraf had any "//morality//" left in him, he would have resigned a long ago. Ansari says: there is no link between morality and Musharraf's personality.

Originally published by Geo TV, Karachi, in Urdu 1400 06 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring South Asia. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.