The promised impeachment against Pervez Musharraf did not have to be moved. Its purpose, his exit from office, was achieved by his resignation, in what he said was the greater national interest. However, he proved politically astute in his departure, by making a confusing speech. It was confusing in his refusal to admit any responsibility for the shambles the economy was in, and was probably the main reason why so many want him tried. Having left some of the nation, at least that part which does not insist on his trial, confused, he left the coalition which had ousted him to wrangle over two points: the restoration of the judges, the issue which really ensured that his fall from office would be sooner rather than later, and the succession. What has not been mentioned, and what he also left out of his speech, was the War on Terror, and what would now be Pakistan's role in it. In fact, Musharraf, probably deliberately, did not mention the War on Terror in his speech, even though it formed the centrepiece of his presidency. There seems to be no reason why the coalition should hesitate about the restoration of the judges, apart from substantial PPP reservations. The PML-N has made it abundantly clear that this is a core issue with it. Perhaps its leadership realises that it cannot really do anything about the economy, so it might as well have another issue which both resonates with the people and allows them to claim to have fulfilled a promise. So why is the PPP hesitating? The simplest reason is the NRO. That piece of legislation benefited the PPP virtually exclusively, and then too Ms Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari. The former has been assassinated, and succeeded as head of the PPP by the latter. Even though there was no pending case which had won great public fame, Zardari is still presumably fearful about the possibility of the restored court knocking down the law. The other blot on the ousted judges is the missing-persons case, which could lead to the summoning of the director-generals of the intelligence agencies. That could not be allowed, and the president took their embarrassment on himself, by declaring that a restoration, particularly of the chief justice, would be embarrassing to him. He had relied on the PPP to save him this embarrassment, only for the PPP to be instrumental in him swallowing the embarrassment of resignation. But the PPP remains determined, now that Musharraf has been ousted, to avert his successor the embarrassment of restoration. The succession issue is still not clear, but the PML-N would have the rights of the matter in demanding it. The PPP has the plurality among the coalition partners, and thus it has taken the speakership and the prime ministership. It was on this count that it conceded both these two offices in the Punjab to the PML-N. One possible solution would be for the PPP to have the present Speaker of the National Assembly, Mrs Fehmida Mirza, to the presidency, and thus fulfil Mr Zardari's express wish to have a woman there, and leave the PML-N to nominate the new speaker. An easier way out is that proposed by the PML-N, that the nominee should not have any of the powers that the president enjoys, such as the dissolution power. The PML-N has a better track record here, as its sole presidential nomination, of Rafiq Tarar, came after the office had been reduced to that of a figurehead as in other parliamentary systems. On the other hand, the PPP has nominated Fazal Elahi Chaudhry, Ghulam Ishaq Khan (that was a pre-condition of power) and Farooq Leghari. Ishaq and Leghari had the dissolution power; both used it on the PPP. If the constitution must be amended to end presidential powers (and the 1973 constitution ended them because Governor General Ghulam Muhammad had used even those powers of the head of state that had not been abolished because it was thought that they would not be used), it is highly unlikely (though not impossible) for parliament to do so before the next president is elected. Another possibility, and the strongest, is for Zardari himself to take the presidency. This would fulfil the small-province requirement, and the PML-N, while it would certainly like to, would find it difficult to object to him, out of the courtesy shown to a coalition partner head. One of the hopes being entertained is that the manner of Musharraf's departure will stop any future imposer of military rule. While his thanks to all three services may have rendered that hope a fond one, Musharraf's exit differs from his predecessors in being an oddly civilian one. Ayub Khan left office after a full-fledged street movement against him, and after he held a Round Table Conference. But he handed it over to COAS General Yahya Khan, so that he could impose Martial Law and abrogate the 1962 constitution that Ayub had given, and which specified that the president was to hand over to the speaker of the National Assembly, who then happened to be a Bengali. Yahya in turn handed over as president as well as chief martial law administrator to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who took over on these terms because he had won a majority in the West Wing, which was all that was left of Pakistan after the creation of Bangladesh, which was the reason for Yahya's fall. He himself was willing to carry on, even though he had lost over half the country. Finally, Zia first eliminated Bhutto in 1977, but himself was taken off the scene in a plane crash in 1988. It must be remembered that he was the only military ruler who did not resign, but who chose neither the timing nor the manner of his exit. Perhaps because of this, Zia was the only military ruler who had the constitution followed on his exit. Perhaps that is why Musharraf's departure seemed so civilian: his departure was under the same constitution that he had suspended twice, and the succession will be under the same constitution. This time, his claim to office relied on election by the assemblies. So when all the provincial assemblies asked him to take a fresh vote of confidence, his departure by resignation or impeachment was coming. It should be noted that a military role, if any, was behind the scenes, not upfront, thus enhancing the civilian nature of the episode. But the whole episode requires consideration of the War on Terror, and Musharraf's role in it. It now depends on the USA how it allocates this role, but it seems that the role of COAS General Ashfaq Kayani, and of the COAS in future, has increased. The new president will not have the same role, even if he (or she) wants it, and reining in the ISI will be left to the PM, whose trip to see the US president, turns out not to have been so innocent after all. E-mail: