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Page last updated at 07:21 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 08:21 UK

Pakistan leader addresses nation

Pervez Musharraf (13 August 2008)
Analysts say Musharraf's best way out would seem to be a dignified exit

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who is under pressure to resign before being impeached by parliament, is addressing the nation live on TV.

His spokesman, Rashid Qureshi, would not say if the president intended to announce he was stepping down.

On Sunday, Pakistan's defence minister said the governing coalition would file impeachment charges within two days.

Draft charges against the president include violation of the constitution and gross misconduct, officials say.

If Mr Musharraf chooses not to quit and to defend himself, as his spokesman insists he will, he would be the first president in Pakistan's history to be impeached.

The impeachment campaign was launched last week by leaders of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

'Writing on the wall'

The PPP and PML-N say they have finished drawing up a list of charges that they intend to level against Mr Musharraf and present before parliament this week.

They say they will be able to gather the two-thirds majority needed to impeach him.

STEPS TO IMPEACHMENT
Impeachment proposers need 50% majority in Senate or National Assembly
President given notice of impeachment, and has three days to respond
Joint session of Senate and Assembly must be held between 7 and 14 days later to investigate charges
If resolution presented, joint session must approve with two-thirds majority

But that could take several weeks and they have been urging him to jump before he is pushed, the BBC's Charles Haviland in Islamabad says.

The anti-Musharraf parties won a sweeping victory in elections in February, further weakening a man who has ruled Pakistan for nine years, he adds.

When asked if he had any confirmation that President Musharraf would announce his resignation on Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said it appeared the former army chief had "seen the writing on the wall".

"He is a wise man, he is a very experienced man and he has seen the writing on the wall," Mr Qureshi told Dawn News television.

"He has seen the sentiments of not just the elected representatives, but various institutions... who all asked him to move in a particular way and do not destabilise things here."

Three choices

Correspondents say that Mr Musharraf has three main options if the governing coalition follows through with its threat to bring impeachment charges.

Anti-Musharraf protests in Multan, Pakistan (13 August)
Mr Musharraf can still dismiss the government and dissolve parliament

He could announce his resignation after defending his past decisions and challenging the accusations that have been made by the PPP and PML-N.

He could announce that he will not resign and is willing to defend himself against any impeachment charges levelled against him.

Although considered a highly unlikely option by analysts, Mr Musharraf could also use his powers under Article 58-2(b) of the constitution to dismiss the government, dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency.

Mr Musharraf, the former army chief and a key ally in Washington's war on terror, came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999.

He was forced to give up control of the armed forces last year.

The president's public standing suffered a huge setback in 2007 when he sacked Pakistan's chief justice and nearly 60 judges to prevent them from overturning his re-election as president.

But analysts say the president is still thought to have heavy influence over the military and its reaction will remain crucial.



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