Iss koo kehtay haay mou paay saay phitkar tapakna.
LAHORE, Pakistan - A Pakistani leader stepped up the pressure on President Pervez Musharraf Wednesday, branding him a "traitor" and claiming that the ruling coalition had agreed to oust the former army strongman.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif leads the second-largest party in a coalition that took power two months ago after routing Musharraf's supporters in elections.
In a speech to fist-pumping supporters on Wednesday, Sharif claimed Asif Ali Zardari, whose party leads the coalition, agreed in Tuesday talks to remove Musharraf.
But a spokeswoman for Zardari said that while his party might consider impeaching Musharraf, its priority was to cut back the president's powers.
Sharif addressed a gathering of his Pakistan Muslim League-N party to mark the 10th anniversary of the atomic bomb test that made Pakistan the world's only Islamic nuclear power.
Sharif was prime minister at the time. His government was later ousted by then-army chief Musharraf in a 1999 coup and the two men remain bitter political enemies.
In his speech, Sharif accused Musharraf of having "destroyed" the nation during his eight-year dominance of Pakistan's politics.
"A high treason case should be registered against him and he should be given the punishment of a traitor," Sharif said to cheers in a conference hall in the eastern city of Lahore. "There is no need to give him a safe exit."
He claimed that Zardari, the widower of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto, "agreed to remove" Musharraf during a meeting of the two coalition leaders on Tuesday.
Sharif did not elaborate.
Farzana Raja, a spokesman for Zardari's Pakistan People's Party, told The Associated Press there was "no specific talk" of impeaching Musharraf in Tuesday's discussions.
She said her party wanted to avoid a confrontation with the presidency and was focused on a package of constitutional amendments that would strip him of the power to dissolve parliament and appoint top officials.
However, she said her party could "think about" impeaching the president if its allies are united in seeking such a move.
Musharraf's spokesman denied speculation that Musharraf was considering quitting — talk that sent Pakistan's stock market spinning lower Wednesday.
Investors are concerned that deepening political turmoil will leave unresolved the country's daunting economic problems, including huge budget and trade deficits.
Presidential spokesman Rashid Qureshi told Dawn News television that Musharraf was supporting the elected government, and noted that political leaders including Zardari "have said many times they will work with the president."
At the weekend, Zardari said he was ready to discuss the proposed constitutional reforms with Musharraf, but also that he wanted to "walk" him away from power.
Musharraf's popularity plummeted last year amid a wave of suicide bombings blamed on Islamic extremists and after he tried to fire the country's top judge.
In November, he imposed a state of emergency and purged the Supreme Court in order to halt legal challenges to his re-election as president the month before.
The new coalition has vowed to restore the judges, but is at loggerheads over how to do it, raising the prospect that the government could soon founder.
Sharif, who views the judges as allies against Musharraf, has pulled his ministers from the Cabinet in protest at the delay, but he remains nominally part of the coalition.
Zardari has sought to link the restoration of the judges to the constitutional reforms, for which he needs Sharif's support to have any chance of guiding them through parliament.