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The Impeachment Impetus of Musharraf's New Friends

Pakistan's embattled president, Pervez Musharraf, is reportedly in talks with and has invited Shahzad Sharif into a role in the Pakistani government. Shahzad is the brother of Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf deposed in a coup in 1999. As reported by Pakistan's Dawn newspaper:

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) head Shahbaz Sharif dashed to Islamabad on Saturday and returned to Lahore in the evening after holding separate meetings with an aide of President Pervez Musharraf, the Saudi ambassador and a former bureaucrat, sources told Dawn.

The sources said the PML-N president had met Brig (retd) Niaz Ahmad, who passed a message from President Musharraf on to Mr Sharif about the formation of a national government before the general election.

Sources in the PML-N said the president had suggested Shahbaz Sharif to become a part of the proposed government. The sources said the president had also proposed a “future role” for Shahbaz Sharif after the elections.

This is not a curious move, but a logical one for Musharraf, who needs to look beyond the coming elections and create the conditions of his future survival - a skill, it should be noted, that Musharraf has persistently displayed. Quoted in The Australian, Musharraf speaks frankly of the reality he faces, and vows that he will survive any attempt by his foes at impeachment after elections.

PAKISTANI President Pervez Musharraf has threatened to resign rather than face impeachment should the opposition seize government in general elections next month.

Mr Musharraf, asked about opposition threats to impeach him if, as seems likely, the main opposition parties win a two-thirds majority in the new National Assembly, said: "If that (impeachment) happens, let me assure that I'd be leaving office before they would do anything.

"If they won and they formed a government that had the intention of doing this, I wouldn't like to stick around."

A two-thirds majority in the Pakistan parliament is required to begin impeachment proceedings. Given the sense of public anger following Benazir Bhutto's assassination last month, political analysts say her Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif could win the numbers required to drive Mr Musharraf from office.

Exactly what role was offered the brother of Musharraf's hated political rival is not yet known, but it is likely the role of Prime Minister. Musharraf must offer a healthy tribute in order to even hope of avoiding swift impeachment and removal in a majority PML-N/PPP government.

And considering he must deal with the man he overthrew and banished into exile for nearly ten years, there may not be enough tribute to be had regardless of any deals made. Musharraf knows this but has few options short of canceling elections outright. But this would only increase a street demand of his ouster, leading potentially to a military-led coup in order to prevent the fragmentation of Pakistan in the eyes of generals.

A deal may be publicly reached beforehand. But it would be hard to envision any guarantees against impeachment being kept when push comes to shove if the PML-N and the assassinated Benazir Bhutto's angry PPP manage a two-thirds majority in Pakistan's parliament.

For Nawaz Sharif, revenge is best served. Period. By any means.