IN OTHER WORDS: Under fire

Pakistan’s civilian leaders stirred a new political hornet’s nest by declaring their intention to impeach President Pervez Musharraf. It is not certain whether they will succeed, but it is clear that the issue must be resolved with speed and respect for democracy. The coalition government that was elected in February has been weak, fractious and fumbling. It must get beyond the paralysing political dispute with Musharraf and begin focusing seriously on bringing stability to the nuclear-armed country.

However troubled Musharraf’s former army colleagues may be at this turn of events, they must not stage another coup to protect him. His successor as military chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, has distinguished himself by promising repeatedly that the army would stay out of politics. Keeping that promise is vital.

Similarly, President Bush, who for too long enabled Musharraf and undercut democracy in Pakistan, must resist any temptation to intervene on the former general’s behalf. That would further fuel instability.

There are no easy fixes for Pakistan, but it will have no chance if its civilian leaders, its army and the United States do not work together to build more effective democratic governance, an economic future and a coordinated plan for routing the Taliban and Al Qaeda.