Pakistani political scene has begun to witness scenarios hitherto unknown in recent times. First, the Washington visit of the recently elected Pakistani Premier turned out to be a non-event, and secondly, the news of possible and impending impeachment of Musharraf. As these matters are of great significance, it is necessary to examine them in depth. PM Gilani came to Washington and has returned to Islamabad but the decision makers of DC are still confused what to make out of his unofficial 'official' visit. Many US officials were eager to meet him to evaluate his usefulness as a replacement to their long-trusted but fading helper Musharraf; by all accounts it seems that Washington was not overtly impressed at what they saw. Is it so because the man who represents democracy in Pakistan could not convince the real players of his mission or is it that they did not want really to see democracy thrive in this country? What they say they found was a lack of depth of understanding and vision in dealing with complex international and security issues, articulation to comprehend and project Pakistani policies in a clear and candid way. It is further reported by the American media that the US officials did not find the requisite capacity in the PM to grasp the importance of issues, take control of matters and make decisions which he could sustain. It is well known that Washington comprises scores of think tanks, lobbyists, Congressmen, retired diplomats, bureaucrats, generals and media giants. But could it be said that the people he generally met were of the current Bush Administration who cannot have any real appreciation for the person who replaced their trusted friend in Islamabad? The one issue which damaged Gilani's credibility as a potentially serious leader and policy-maker was the brutally botched up ISI fiasco. Whoever did this to Gilani actually torpedoed his US visit, which turned into a non-starter the moment the ISI notification was withdrawn. It was beyond Gilani to stand by his order for more than a few hours and Washingtonians got the message that they were dealing with a non-entity and should not take him seriously. The presence of sharpshooters like Islamabad's chief security point man Malik, did little to be of any real help. They were all engrossed to get the maximum limelight for themselves in the circumstances that suddenly they were provided with. Furthermore the overall superior position that Zardari clearly enjoys in the government was sufficient to convince his hosts that they were not dealing with a premier with authority of a nuclear armed nation. Thus while the Premier was in Washington his visit did not result in any reverberating consequences, events in Pakistan have moved with much speed. The ISI change of stewardship move had been effectively blocked by Musharraf and his cronies. This made Zardari lose face and he quickly realised that Nawaz was right in not trusting the president. So after three days of intense discussions between the PPP co-chairman and the PML-N chief it was announced on August 7 that Pakistan's ruling coalition will seek the impeachment of US-backed Musharraf. Despite his immense unpopularity in Pakistan, the former general has so far resisted calls to step down and insisted he will serve out his current five-year term. Zardari declared in a press conference their joint decision and added meaningfully that this was "good news for democracy" in Pakistan. Announcing a joint statement alongside his coalition partners after two days of talks, he said it was "imperative" for them to move for Musharraf's impeachment. Policies pursued by Musharraf during his eight years in power "have brought Pakistan to a critical economical impasse....His policies have weakened the federation and eroded the trust of the nation in national institutions," said Zardari. He rightly asserted that Musharraf had given a "clear commitment" to resign if his party lost in the February elections and had failed to honour a pledge made by his attorney to the Supreme Court (SC) to seek a vote of confidence from the new parliament. He also pointed out that the general (retd) was continuously "conspiring" with the opposition party against Pakistan's democratic transition. "The coalition further decided that it will immediately initiate impeachment proceedings. The coalition leadership will present a charge sheet against General Musharraf," Zardari told in a news conference. The political pundits in Washington are hopelessly hoping that the response of the army to the prospect of a humiliating exit for its former chief will be crucial. Here in the US a routine meeting of Army commanders was held in Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad was emphasised pointedly by a section of the Anglo-American media; however, when a military official said, "It was a routine meeting relating to promotions of brigadiers and other senior officers " it put a damper on such expectations. Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority support of lawmakers in a joint session of both Houses of Parliament. Musharraf loyalists maintain the coalition would struggle to muster it, but Zardari expressed confidence they would succeed. However, when questioned by the press on the eve of August 7 Zardari said, "We hope that 90 percent of the lawmakers will support us." So let us examine the precise constitutional provision that would be decisively crucial in impeachment proceedings. Article 47 of the constitution deals with the Removal {or impeachment} of president. This article corresponds to Article 13 of the 1962 constitution, Article 35 of the 1956 constitution and Article 6 of the 1950 Indian constitution. It reads as follows:     Notwithstanding anything contained in the constitution, the president may, in accordance with the provisions of this Article, be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity or impeached on a charge of violating the constitution or gross misconduct.     Not less than one-half of the total membership of either House may give to the speaker of the National Assembly (NA) or, as the case may be, the chairman written notice of its intention to move a resolution for the removal of, or, as the case may be, to impeach, the president; and such notice shall set out the particulars of his incapacity or of the charge against him.     If a notice under clause (2) is received by the chairman, he shall transmit it forthwith to the speaker.     The speaker shall, within 3 days of the receipt of a notice under clause (2) or clause (3), cause a copy of the notice to be transmitted to the president.     The speaker shall summon the two Houses to meet in a joint sitting not earlier than 7 days and not later than 14 days after the receipt of the notice by him.     The joint sitting may investigate the ground or the charge upon which the notice is founded.     The president shall have the right to appear and be represented during the investigation, if any, and before the joint sitting.     If, after consideration of the result of the investigation, if any, a resolution is passed at the joint sitting by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of parliament declaring that the president is unfit to hold office due to incapacity or is guilty of violating the constitution, the president shall cease to hold office immediately on the passing of the resolution. Quintessentially this provision signifies that (a) Impeachment proposers need 50 percent majority in senate or NA, (b) President is given notice of impeachment, and has 3 days to respond, (c) Joint session of senate and NA must be held between 7 and 14 days to investigate the charges, and (d) If resolution presented, joint session must approve with two-thirds majority. The most important point to emphasise is that it only needs 50 percent of members' support to initiate this process which the government does posses. Once this process starts it is really impossible for any president to survive the ordeal and loss of reputation with the track record like Musharraf possess. Any impeachment proceedings against the retired general-cum-president would take Pakistani politics into a new territory since no Pakistani leader has faced impeachment before. There has been no response from the president himself, however, he has categorically conveyed to his supporters that "he will neither step down nor flee from the country but defend himself against the impeachment move." On the other hand, the president's supporters in the parliament have said they will fight against any attempt to remove him. Musharraf had previously said that he would prefer to resign rather than face impeachment but it seems that he is so glued to the idea of staying in power that, like Fuji More of Peru, he is determined to face humiliation.   The Western media is hoping that the military may react to any efforts to oust him; but that is wishful thinking since the current COAS General Parvez Kayani has already taken the army to perform its traditional role of defending the borders and not to interfere in the country's politics Finally, in order for the impeachment move against President Musharraf to succeed, the government needs 295 members in a combined House of 442. The NA has a total of 342 members and the senate 100 members. An impeachment motion against the president would need the signatures of at least 172 members of the NA, or 50 members of the 100-member senate. According to the latest party position the ruling coalition has the support of 251 members, while the opposition has 88 members. The coalition government has thus clearly 290 members in a joint sitting. If the JI and the PKMAP support the impeachment move (with their combined strength of eight in the senate) it will go upto 298 thereby crossing the number of 295 member of the parliament. The writer is barrister-at-law (UK), attorney-at-law (US), senior advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, and professor Harvard University