ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A top ruling party official on Saturday gave Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a two-day deadline to quit or face impeachment proceedings.
Musharraf's allies insisted he was not stepping down. But pressure on the president mounted further after the ruling party drew up a draft of charges to support a potential impeachment.
"Musharraf is running out of time," Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters. "If he fails to decide to quit within the next two days, the impeachment process will take its course."
Qureshi is a member of the Pakistan People's Party, the dominant group in the ruling coalition which announced its intentions last week to impeach Musharraf.
The building momentum to throw the president out of office has injected even more uncertainty into an already volatile situation in Pakistan, a country whose stability the United States considers critical to success in the war on terror.
Musharraf dominated Pakistan for years after seizing power in a 1999 military coup, making the country a key U.S. ally by supporting its fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida. But his popularity at home has dwindled.
Many Pakistanis blame rising violence in their country on his alliance with the United States. Musharraf's popularity sank to new lows in 2007 when he ousted judges and imposed emergency rule. Then his rivals came to power after February parliamentary elections, largely sidelining him.
The United States has said publicly the impeachment debate is an internal matter and Pakistan's army, which Musharraf formerly headed, has also remained neutral.
There is no precedent for impeaching a president in Pakistan's turbulent 61-year history.
Under the constitution, a president can be impeached for violating the constitution or "gross misconduct." Coalition officials have said Musharraf's removal of judges and imposition of emergency rule last year could be cause for impeachment.
Coalition officials said Saturday they have completed a draft of the impeachment charges but it still needs approval from the party leaders.