Musharraf Not Quitting

Despite suffering a landslide loss in parliamentary elections, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has no intention to resign from office. After the successful and fair elections produced a lopsided coalition between Benazir Bhutto’s PPP and Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N, Sharif called for Musharraf to leave office. Sharif could make it impossible for Musharraf to stay:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said he intends to remain in office and work with the new government, despite the trouncing that the country’s parliamentary elections handed his ruling party and calls by the opposition to step down.
In an interview posted on the Wall Street Journal’s Web site Wednesday and in comments to CNN, Musharraf and his staff said he was not contemplating leaving office.
“No, not yet,” Musharraf told the Journal. “We have to move forward in a way that we bring about a stable democratic government to Pakistan.”

Musharraf did sound a very humble note in his response. The prime minister, elected by the new parliament, will run the country, Musharraf’s office explained. The president will cooperate with whomever the parliament elects, and presumably will focus on security rather than policy.
Sharif could force Musharraf from office, but he will need a lot of help. The parliament can impeach a president with a two-thirds majority, but Sharif’s PML-N came in second. The PPP holds the most seats, and even in a coalition with them, Sharif would come up short. Given the rickety nature of the democracy at this point, and the fact that Musharraf conducted a clean election, an impeachment may not suit the purposes of anyone but Sharif himself, who got removed from office in a coup engineered by Musharraf in 1999.
Can Sharif find a supermajority of parliamentarians who want to celebrate an end to one crisis by fomenting another? It’s unlikely. If he did, he might find that the Pakistani Army would object to a political meltdown, especially one aimed at removing their former chief of staff from office. Musharraf will likely fill his five-year term, and Sharif will have to grit his teeth and work with the man who chased him out of Pakistan nine years ago.