Key allies of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Friday they would fight against moves to impeach him but warned the former general against dissolving the government.
Leaders of the fragile ruling coalition announced on Thursday that they would begin impeachment proceedings against Musharraf and accused the former general of trying to undermine the new democratic government.
"We are going to oppose it. It is a half-baked effort and a sure recipe for disaster," Tariq Azim, the information minister in the last government and an important member of the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PMLQ), told AFP.
"The entire exercise is going to destabilise the country."
Azim said the coalition would not be able to muster the votes to impeach Musharraf. Under the constitution, a two-thirds majority in a joint sitting of the upper and lower houses of parliament is required.
"The coalition does not have the required numbers, nor do any of the constitutional provisions for impeachment apply to the president, so he can fight it on these two grounds," Azim said.
"The allegations made against President Musharraf by the coalition leaders are not very sound."
But he warned that one option which could be considered by Musharraf, dissolving parliament and calling new elections, "will be damaging to the democratic set-up and the economy."
Mushahid Hussain, secretary general of the PML-Q, said Musharraf should confront the impeachment proceedings in parliament.
"We will prepare a case, the president should be there and defend himself, and at least say, 'I am not a crook like some of the people sitting on the other side,'" Hussain told Dawn News television.
"I think the coalition has played its last card. It was its trump card, they have played it too soon, and whatever happens the coalition will fall apart," Hussain said.
He accused the coalition of trying to buy votes to get the impeachment motion through, adding: "The going rate was said to be 25 million per vote."
But he, too, warned Musharraf against using the controversial constitutional article -- known as 58-2b -- which allows the president to dissolve parliament.
"I oppose impeachment but I also oppose 58-2b because these are not the solutions of problems which Pakistan confronts," Hussain said.
Musharraf's other options are to declare a state of emergency and suspend the government, or to resign -- something he has previously ruled out.
Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999.
His political allies were beaten by the parties of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, another ex-prime minister, in elections in February.