Pakistan President wants to step down

August 15, 2008 12:14:26 AM PDT
The leader of Pakistan is on his way out. Secret talks took place Thursday night that would prevent the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, instead he would step down.

Things are changing by the hour, so President Musharraf could still refuse to resign, but by all accounts, it looks like Musharraf is trying to avoid a humiliating impeachment sagam, by stepping down.

His support from longtime allies is eroding. There are even reports that Pervez Musharraf has entered talks to ensure he will be allowed a self-imposed exile. All signs that the Pakistani President plans to step down in a matter of days to avoid impeachment proceedings against him.

"There's overwhelming support in the parliament for impeaching him and a few years ago that really wouldn't have mattered because the real power lied in the army. But if the army is not willing to support him and the parliament wants to impeach him then he's really stuck," says Professor Sanjoy Banerjee Ph.D., chair of the International Relations Department at San Francisco State University.

Musharraf outraged many in his country last November when he declared emergency rule, suspending the country's constitution and filling the streets with police officers.

The move was an effort to reassert his fading power, but now, his expected departure is giving some local Pakistanis reason to hope, that perhaps one day their homeland will be a true democracy.

"I think we are due for a real change and I don't know what it takes to really bring that but I am patient enough to give them a chance to see if they can turn the country around," says Anwar Siddiqui, president of the Pakistan Association of San Francisco Bay Area.

Regardless, for the Bush administration, there are reasons to worry that Musharraf's abrupt departure will bring new instability to the country. Terrorists, or jihadists as they're called, are gaining power, leading to the next question, who will ultimately control Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

"The more power they get, the more of a threat that they pose and while the scenario of Jihadists taking over nuclear weapons is still remote, that is the ultimate nightmare," says Banerjee.

A Musharraf ally says negotiations over his exit include guarantees that the president will avoid criminal charges. Something also being talked about is a deal where the presidency is stripped down to a figurehead position.


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