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Old Friday, August 08, 2008
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Default Friday, August 08, 2008

Taliban announce ‘all-out war’ in Swat

MINGORA: The Taliban on Thursday announced war on the security forces and said negotiations with the provincial government were possible only after the forces left the valley, sources said. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told reporters that they would launch an offensive against security forces. Meanwhile, Taliban militants beheaded a young man allegedly for “spying” and gunned down three others as security forces arrested five suspected militants in Swat district during an operation, residents and officials said. Separately, Taliban militants set a girls’ college in Matta and two schools in Qandil on fire taking the number of destroyed schools in the region to over 100.

Bajaur battle kills 10 troops, 25 militants

* Militants attack security checkpost
* Gunships pound insurgent positions

KHAR: Hundreds of Taliban militants attacked a security checkpost near the Afghan border late on Wednesday, sparking fierce clashes in which up to 10 troops and 25 militants were killed, officials said on Thursday.

The security forces had deployed a large force to Loyesam, 12 kilometres from the Bajaur Agency headquarters, in a bid to reclaim important nearby Taliban strongholds.

An officer from the paramilitary Frontier Corps told AFP that 300-400 militants armed with AK-47 assault rifles, rocket launchers and grenades, participated in the attack.

“The firing continued the whole night. This morning reinforcements were sent. One vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device on its way to the post and the convoy was then attacked by Taliban militants,” the official said.

“The fighting is intense and ongoing,” an unidentified security official told AFP. “Up to 25 militants were killed and at least 10 Frontier Corps soldiers have also been martyred,” he said. But Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Maulvi Umer told Daily Times 18 security forces personnel were killed. The casualties could not be ascertained independently.

All resources: Maulvi Umar said the Taliban would use all resources to regain control of Loyesam area, very close to Afghan border.

Helicopter gunships: Helicopter gunships pounded insurgent positions during the fighting, and the Taliban fired a rocket at a gunship helicopter, but could not damage it.

Ex-commando set to fight impeachment

ISLAMABAD: It is not for nothing that President Pervez Musharraf says Napoleon and Richard Nixon are his idols, the former army chief has shown time and again that he does not give up without a fight. The coalition announced on Thursday it would start impeachment proceedings against Musharraf. “The president is a sore loser,” a close aide to Musharraf said. The aide quoted the president as saying recently, “I will not give up without a fight. I will not to see my country sliding downhill and will play my part to keep it on course.”

I will not step down, says Musharraf

LAHORE: President Pervez Musharraf has vowed to defend himself before parliament, Geo News quoted him as saying on Thursday. According to the channel, Musharraf told Muhammad Ali Durrani, Sharifuddin Peerzada and Malik Qayyum during a meeting that he had not violated the constitution for personal gains and that every action on his part was in the best interest of Pakistan. The president said he would justify all his acts and respond to allegations that the ruling coalition had levelled against him. The channel quoted him as saying that he would not surrender without contesting charges against him.

President swings into action to block impeachment move

* Musharraf meets senior legal expert Sharifuddin Pirzada
* Asks allies to muster support in parliament to defeat impeachment

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday held consultations with legal aides and made important telephone calls to his allies to foil the ruling coalition’s bid to impeach him.

Sources privy to the developments said he had a long meeting with legal guru Sharifuddin Pirzada to explore the constitutional and legal ways to avoid impeachment. They discussed all options available to the president, including the use of Article 58 (2b) of the Constitution, promulgation of a state of emergency, and facing the impeachment in parliament, the sources added.

They said the president was, at this point, not interested in discussing the option of resigning from office, and wanted to defeat the impeachment motion by his opponents.

Political allies: He talked to former interior minister Aftab Sherpao, former information minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and PML-Functional chief Pir Pagaro on the telephone.

The sources said Musharraf asked his allies to help muster support in the parliament to defeat the impeachment. His allies were confident that the president would survive the impeachment. Appearing on various talk shows on TV, they said the government lacked required strength in parliament for the attempt to succeed.

Shujaat told a local TV channel that Article 58(2b) would be used as a last resort. He also said the army would look after the country’s interest and not of any party or individual. Leader of the Opposition in the NA Pervaiz Elahi said the coalition was not serious in impeaching the president. Sheikh Rashid said the president was determined to fight back.

Gilani replaces Musharraf at Beijing Olympics

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani left for China on Thursday to represent Pakistan in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Talking to reporters prior to his departure, the PM said Pakistan and China enjoyed excellent relations and “we want to further improve and strengthen these ties”.

The question of who would represent Pakistan at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics took another turn on Thursday evening when it was announced that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would represent Pakistan instead of President Pervez Musharraf.

Earlier, Musharraf was scheduled to leave for China on Wednesday to attend the ceremony, but decided to cancel the visit due to the domestic political situation.

However, he changed his mind after meeting key allies and aides.

Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq had confirmed at his weekly briefing at 3pm on Thursday that Musharraf would leave for China as scheduled.

However, barely an hour later, the spokesman issued a brief statement for official media that the PM would represent Pakistan at the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics.

ANP, JUI-F to support impeachment

ISLAMABAD: Though the party extends its unconditional support to the president’s impeachment, it is still a difficult task, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman said on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the Fazl unconditionally supported its coalition partners’ decision to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, but also called for changing the isolated president’s policies, particularly on the war on terror. The Awami National Party (ANP) will back the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, ANP Information Secretary Zahid Khan said. “If the ruling coalition partners reached the decision to oust Musharraf, we will back it,” the ANP spokesman said. He said that the ANP had always been against dictatorship and believed in supremacy of the parliament, independence of the judiciary and the media.

Govt summons NA session on 11th

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday sent a summary to President Pervez Musharraf to summon the National Assembly’s session on August 11. According to sources in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), it would be a regular session of the lower house and had nothing to do with the impeachment of the president, contrary to some media reports. A PPP leader – who deals with the parliamentary affairs of the government – told Daily Times that routine legislative business would be on the agenda for the session. He denied that an impeachment motion against the president would be moved during the session. The PPP leader said that the party favoured building up moral pressure on Musharraf through the passing of resolutions from provincial assemblies, instead of going directly for impeachment.

PA passes resolution against 58 (2b)

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution against the use of Article 58 (2b) by the president to dissolve assemblies. None of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) members present in Thursday’s session of the PA objected to the resolution moved by Shaukat Ali Bhatti, a PML-Q (forward bloc) member from Gojra. The resolution said that the federal government should abolish the article from the statute book. It said that the federal government should also make arrangements to do away with the provincial governors’ powers to dissolve provincial assemblies. It added that the national and provincial assemblies should be empowered with the powers given to the president in 58 (2b). Talking to Daily Times, Shaukat Bhatti praised the PML-Q members for not opposing the resolution.

‘Pakistan first’, Zardari tells Musharraf

LAHORE: President Musharraf should resign so that proceedings against him in parliament could be defended, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari conveyed to Musharraf through a trusted aide after the ruling coalition announced it would impeach the president. In his message, Zardari said that the country was facing a dire situation, and no individual or institution should attempt any adventure that might jeapordise national stability. He asked Musharraf to practically demonstrate that he prefers national interests over his own, and honour his slogan “Pakistan first”. Sources claim that Zardari wishes to provide Musharraf with a safe passage.

It’s Pakistan’s internal matter: US

WASHINGTON: Moves towards the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf are Pakistan’s “internal matter” and it is for the Pakistani people to decide their political issues, the US State Department said on Thursday. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said that it was to be hoped that any actions taken would be consistent with the constitution. Gallegos said it is the responsibility Pakistani leaders to decide on the way forward to succeed as a “democratic, modern and moderate country”.

Charges against Musharraf

* The president has worked to undermine the transition to democracy through collusion with the ‘King’s party’

* His policies have weakened the federation

* His economic policies during the last eight years have brought Pakistan to the brink of economic impasse

* His policies have thrown the country into the worst power shortage in its history

* He did not get a vote of confidence from the new assemblies despite a commitment made with the SC

* He failed to address new parliament

* He did not resign after his allies were defeated in the February 18 elections


* Proceedings will be launched ‘immediately’, say Zardari and Nawaz
* Judges to be reinstated after president’s removal
* Provincial assemblies to ask president to take vote of confidence
* Zardari plays down possibility of Musharraf dissolving parliament
* Parliament to decide on Musharraf’s prosecution, says Nawaz

ISLAMABAD: The four-party ruling coalition said on Thursday it would move to impeach President Pervez Musharraf for plunging the country into political and economic crises and warned him against any attempt to dismiss the government.

The coalition also announced it would reinstate the judges sacked for not taking oath under a Provisional Constitution Order after Musharraf promulgated a state of emergency on November 3, 2007.

“The coalition leaders believe that it has become imperative to move for impeachment,” Zardari, flanked by major coalition partner Nawaz Sharif and representatives of the ANP, the JUI-F and parliamentarians from FATA, told a news conference while reading a communiqué after three days of negotiations.

Zardari said the coalition would “immediately” launch the proceedings and had made the decisions during the negotiations into a “charge sheet” against Musharraf.

“This person committed an oppression against Pakistan. That’s why the parliament has decided to impeach him,” Nawaz said.

The grounds for the impeachment included that Musharraf had failed to address the new parliament or seek a vote of confidence and that he had “worked to undermine the transition to democracy”.

“The economic policies pursued by General Musharraf during (the) last eight years have brought Pakistan to the brink of critical economic impasse,” a joint statement read by Zardari said. “His policies have weakened the federation and eroded trust in national institutions.”

Provincial assemblies: As a first step, the new provincial assemblies will move resolutions asking the president to take a vote of confidence from them in line with the commitment he had made with the Supreme Court ahead of his re-election last year.

Dissolving parliament: Zardari played down the possibility that a cornered Musharraf could now dissolve parliament using Article 58(2b), saying: “The democracy is not that weak now that the threat... can be used.”

Prosecution: To a question, Nawaz said parliament would decide whether to prosecute Musharraf for his violations of the constitution.

Zardari was confident the impeachment motion would be passed with a 90 percent majority. “We have votes and we also have the courage,” he said.

Information Minister Sherry Rehman later told Daily Times, “We have not come this far without doing our parliamentary homework. Summaries will be moved for calling all the four provincial assemblies’ sessions.”

Sources privy to developments said the coalition’s co-ordination committee held another meeting to finalise the future strategy of the coalition.

* Impeachment not main issue: Altaf
* Naik ousted from coalition meetings
* What the man on the street thinks
* Impeachment is all a numbers game
* Text of communique
* Months of turmoil
* Impeachment will be countered: PML-Q
* Not right time: Fahim
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