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Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 16:42 UK

Pressure increases on Musharraf

By Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC News, Islamabad

Protester with a caricature of President Musaharraf
Those lined up against the president appear to be growing more numerous

Pakistan's ruling coalition has successfully negotiated another obstacle on its way to impeaching President Pervez Musharraf.

The North West Frontier Province's (NWFP) parliament passed a resolution calling on the president to seek a vote of confidence, or resign.

The coalition has launched a campaign to make him step down or face charges of corruption and abuse of power.

Mr Musharraf has clung to power despite the defeat of his allies in elections.

Odds against

"We have taken this decision for the future of democracy in the country," former interior minister Aftab Sherpao told reporters after the vote in the NWFP assembly.

President Musharraf in Islamabad in April 2008
President Musharraf has said he would rather resign than be impeached

Mr Sherpao's Pakistan People's Party (Sherpao) (PPP-S) party, which is part of the coalition, voted for the resolution.

It is part of a series of moves initiated by the coalition government to force Mr Musharraf to resign.

At the moment, that campaign is going in favour of the coalition - the NWFP assembly's resolution is the second is as many days.

On Monday, the Punjab assembly passed a similar resolution with a large majority.

The most interesting thing about both events is that members of the opposition previously thought to be allied to Mr Musharraf are now voting against him.

With no real strategy to counter this shift, it appears the odds are heavily stacked against the president.

At the moment, his allies in Pakistan's establishment - the military and bureaucracy - also appear to have abandoned him.

Calls to resign

The impeachment campaign was launched by leaders of the major coalition partners, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), last week.

The move was always on the cards since the defeat of the president's allies in February.

But this time the coalition said they would be launching the campaign immediately.

First they aim to have resolutions passed in all four provinces, calling on the president to seek a vote of confidence from the assemblies as required by law.

The president has failed to do this since the elections.

If he still sticks to this position, the resolution then calls on him to resign in accordance with the law.

The entire process, as the coalition sees it, is drawn out to give Mr Musharraf the chance to resign.

Coalition leaders privately insist that he only has time until charges are filed in parliament. After that, they say, the only way is through impeachment.

But Mr Musharraf has stressed that he will not resign.

He has insisted that he will face the charges which will vindicate his position.




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