Musharraf cancels China visit over impeachment rumours Ruling coalition threatens to pressure Pakistan president to stand down triggering fears of new crisis Saeed Shah in Islamabad guardian.co.uk, Wednesday August 06 2008 12:31 BST Pakistan's embattled president, Pervez Musharraf, abruptly cancelled a planned visit to the Olympic games after reports emerged that the ruling coalition government had agreed to impeach him. Such a move would plunge the country into a new crisis, as Musharraf has repeatedly indicated that he will not allow himself to be forced out of office. Whether the country's powerful military would back the elected government or their former commander-in-chief remains unclear. The leaders of the two biggest parties in Pakistan's ruling coalition - Asif Ali Zardari of the People's party and Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League - held a key meeting in Islamabad today, with local media confidently predicting that they had decided to go for the impeachment option. They have threatened such a move before but failed to follow through, and other sources believe that the government will opt instead for a resolution of no-confidence in the president in an effort to pressure him to stand down voluntarily. . Elections in February brought Musharraf's political opponents to power, but he has stubbornly clung on to the presidency, which he seized in a 1999 coup. The president's advisers have let it be known that he is prepared to "use his constitutional powers" to preserve his position and that any impeachment attempt would "destabilise the country". Under powers that he gave himself, Musharraf has the ability to simply dismiss parliament - a move which would, in theory, be followed by fresh elections. The president has said that he meets the political challenges he faces with military-inspired offensive manoeuvres. "He [Musharraf] might make such a commando attack on parliament," said Ahsan Iqbal, a senior member of Sharif's party. "But we will meet it. Let this be the final round, let there be a final victory for democracy." Musharraf ousted Sharif as prime minister in 1999 and many believe that Sharif is out for revenge. Musharraf headed a military-led government that has been a key western ally in the US-led "war on terror". When, however, he held free elections this year under pressure from Washington and London, his allies in parliament were trounced. Parliament is now dominated by the Pakistan People's party, which was led by Benazir Bhutto until her assassination in December last year. It is now led by her widower and is the largest member of the coalition, followed by Sharif's party. Impeachment, however, requires a two-thirds majority in a joint sitting of both houses of parliament, and the numbers will be close. The coalition dominates the lower house, but Musharraf supporters account for nearly half the members of the upper house, or senate. Critics of the government say that it is been paralysed by disagreements over what to do both about the president and the judges he sacked by Musharraf last November. Mushahid Hussain, a senator and close Musharraf ally, said: "They [the government] have wasted 130 days saying they were going to restore the judges. Now they have dropped the judges to talk about impeachment. This government cannot even make small decisions, so how are they going to make such a big one?"