'Musharraf to exit in days, not months'
Tuesday, 26 February 2008


The Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, is contemplating a swift exit from office rather than the ignominy of being forced out by the winning coalition, according to unnamed aides quoted in the British press (Watch), reports The Times of India.

A 'close confidante' of the embattled president is quoted in The Sunday Telegraph to say Musharraf now believed he had run out of options and was pondering an exit strategy.

He said, sketching out a notional timeline that will be carefully watched in Western capitals, 'I think it is now just a matter of days and not months because he would like to make a graceful exit on a high.'

Musharraf is said to be keen to avoid a power-struggle, which may be inevitable considering the newly-elected parliament is chock full of members implacably opposed to him and theoretically capable of cobbling together a two-thirds majority to impeach him and remove him from office.

His aide said, in what many believe to be an attempt to burnish Musharraf's description of himself as a democrat at heart that the president 'may have made many mistakes, but he genuinely tried to build the country and he doesn't want to destroy it just for the sake of his personal office'.

The remarks are surprising because Musharraf's official spokesman insisted just days ago that he would serve out his full term and leave office only in 2012. The spokesman stressed that the president saw the February 18 elections for what they were – a parliamentary rather than a presidential poll — and was keen to work with the victorious coalition.

The report said Musharraf had considered resigning immediately after the election results were known, but had been persuaded by party loyalists that this could precipitate a crisis.

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