Thursday, August 14, 2008

Musharraf resignation seems imminent yet surprising

It's hard to believe that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has agreed to resign in exchange for immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed by his regime, but that's what the Financial Times of London newspaper reported today on its Web site. After all, this is the guy who staged a military coup in 1999 and fired the Pakistan Supreme Court last year when he thought they were going to rule his re-election invalid. But according to the Reuters international news service, the Financial Times of London cites unnamed officials and a leading member of his party as saying that such a deal has already been reached between Musharraf and leaders of Pakistan's new civilian government. "The president will neither be impeached nor prosecuted on any charges," the official was quoted as saying, according to Reuters. "He will try to stay in Pakistan." Musharraf's supporters in parliament were defeated in elections in February and two anti-Musharraf parties, including the Pakistan People's Party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, won a large majority. The other opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-N, is led by the prime minister Musharraf deposed, Nawaz Sharif, who returned from exile last year. After several months of discussions, the two parties agreed to try to impeach the former army chief and remove him from leadership of the nuclear-armed country. Musharraf's government has been aligned with the United States in the war against terror and has received billions of dollars in U.S. military assistance designed to keep Pakistan stable. But Pakistan's campaign against militants in the tribal region has been uninspired and its lack of success appears to have helped undermine U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan.

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