Musharraf cancels visit to China

Other News Materials 6 August 2008 17:20 (UTC +04:00)

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has cancelled a planned trip to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, BBC reported.

The move comes as the country's governing alliance is discussing his possible impeachment.

Pakistan's foreign ministry gave no reason for the cancellation. China is one of the country's closest allies.

Mr Musharraf's supporters were defeated in elections earlier this year. He has so far resisted pressure to quit.

The head of the governing Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Asif Zardari, was to have travelled with President Musharraf but has also called off his trip to hold more consultations with alliance partners.

The two men were to have left on Wednesday afternoon.

"The visit has been cancelled, [but] I cannot tell you immediately the reason for it," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told the AFP news agency.

The presidential spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

"The cancellation of the China visit by President Musharraf is an important development," AFP quoted an unnamed government official as saying.

"Given our special relationship and friendly ties with China, it is unimaginable that a Pakistani leader would cancel his visit - and that too for a very important occasion for our ally," the official said.

China has provided Pakistan with military and diplomatic support against their neighbour and rival, India.

Pakistan's governing alliance is meeting on Wednesday to discuss possible impeachment, as well as the restoration of judges the president sacked during a state of emergency in November.

Leaders of the two main alliance partners - the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) - say they are near an agreement to impeach Mr Musharraf.

Talks on Tuesday were inconclusive but alliance leaders said they had reached a broad agreement to dispense with the president.

"The two sides have agreed to draw up a joint charge sheet against the president on the basis of available evidence, and ask him to defend himself before the parliament," Khwaja Asif of the PML-N told Geo TV.

PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar told reporters there was a growing feeling among the alliance leaders that Mr Musharraf was "no longer acceptable to the people of Pakistan".