As far as the move for impeachment is concerned, President Musharraf has already lost the number game. Like a drowning man he is now clutching at straws. Many think his statements like fighting to the end are aimed at keeping the morale of his political allies whose ranks are being depleted with every passing day. Musharraf is totally isolated. Three provincial assemblies have already passed resolutions calling on him to seek fresh vote of confidence from the electoral college or face impeachment. A similar call is expected from Balochistan Assembly. In Punjab a demoralised PML-Q could muster no more than 25 MPAs out of its original 84 to vote against impeachment while 321 votes were cast in favour of the ruling coalition's resolution. In NWFP only 4 MPAs stood by the president while 107 voted for the resolution. In Sindh Assembly three PML-Q members joined the PPP and ANP to vote for impeachment. Meanwhile PPP (Sherpao) has announced support for the ruling coalition. What explains the president's defiance? Is Musharraf counting on supporters he expects to come to his rescue or he is only indulging in bluster? Musharraf is looking for possible support from four quarters: his political allies, foreign supporters, the armed forces and the Supreme Court The political allies comprise PML-Q, MQM, PML-F, MQM-S and NPP. The PML-Q is already fractured with the creation of three groups, the forward block, a faction calling itself "like-minded" MPs and the Seraiki dissidents deadly opposed to Chaudhry Shujaat. As the voting in three assemblies indicates that the PML-Q is unable to gather all its members in support of the president. The MQM has so far remained with him but the party is able to change its position at the eleventh hour in case it finds the impeachment move is likely to succeed. Other groups are too small to tilt the balance. The president's political allies are thus unable to save him. President Bush still considers Musharraf as a reliable person but his administration has gradually distanced itself from him. A little before elections he was seen as an indispensable ally in the War On Terror. Subsequently the formulation was discretely changed to Pakistan being indispensable in the fight. After the results of the February elections it became difficult for the Bush Administration to continue to side with Musharraf against the elected government. Its latest position on the issue of the impeachment is that it is an internal issue of Pakistan and the Bush Administration would like it to be resolved in accordance with the constitution and the traditions of Parliamentary democracy. With the American elections due in November the lame duck Bush Administration can at best try to seek a safe exit for President Musharraf. The Saudis being highly sensitive to public opinion in Pakistan can hardly ask for anything more. Whatever foreign help Musharraf can muster cannot help him retain the presidency. Musharraf was extremely hesitant to remove uniform because he knew that as a retired man he would be treated only a little better than a civilian president. Retired services chiefs who have taken part in politics like General Tikka Khan and Air Marshal Asghar Khan have been unceremoniously arrested without eliciting any protests from the armed forces. Why should the military react unusually strongly in the case of Musharraf being impeached? The Supreme Court cannot ignore the depth of public sentiment. That Musharraf has been hesitant to take resort to 58-2(b) indicates he is neither sure of the army's support, whose chief has vowed to make it a purely professional organisation, nor that of the Supreme Court. President Musharraf is a politician who identifies himself with the PML-Q. He has frequently presided over party meetings and continues to hold meetings with politicians. While he should have resigned soon after the elections which were widely considered a referendum against his policies, he brazenly continued to occupy the presidency. Now despite having lost the numbers game he continues to insist he will fight the move. The ruling coalition has called on the president several times to resign. The PPP has offered him a safe exit. Musharraf has refused to accept the offer and has decided to face the charges. Why should anyone mind his being dismissed if he is willing to face the humiliation? E-mail: