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Pervez flip-flop on China visit

Islamabad, Aug 6: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today decided to go ahead with his China visit, hours after abruptly cancelling his scheduled departure to Beijing as his opponents in the coalition government met to consider his possible impeachment.

Musharraf was scheduled to leave for Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics Games. However, the foreign office today announced the abrupt cancellation of the visit.

“The Chinese government has been informed that due to developments at home, the President will not be able to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing,” foreign office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said in Islamabad.

Musharraf changed his plans after the ruling coalition leaders, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader Nawaz Sharif, reportedly agreed to impeach him.

Although there was no official confirmation of the decisions taken at the meeting, media reports said the two leaders had decided to impeach Musharraf and reinstate the judges deposed by Musharraf last year.

However, later in the day Sadiq said the President has decided to attend the ceremony “in view of our special relations with China”. “The President will now leave for China tomorrow,” he added.

Pakistan treasures its close relationship with China as it provides a regional counterweight to India. It is highly unusual for a Pakistani leader to call off a visit at such short notice.

The PPP and PML(N) came to power after defeating Musharraf allies in the February 18 elections. However, the PML(N) withdrew its ministers from the cabinet in May after the PPP failed to bring a parliamentary resolution for the reinstatement of the judges.

The PML(N) also had announced that it would quit the coalition if the PPP fails to reinstate the judges and impeach Musharraf.

In a marathon meeting that lasted for more than six hours yesterday, the two leaders discussed major political and economic challenges facing the country.

Sindh judges

Musharraf today approved the reinstatement of eight deposed judges of the Sindh high court. However, the province’s sacked chief justice, a critic of the former military ruler, was not among them.

The law ministry had recommended that the eight judges, who were among those sacked by Musharraf last year, should be re-appointed. It said that a summary or official notification should be sent to the presidency. The notification was signed by Musharraf today, officials said.

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