Musharraf Resists Pressure to Resign

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Under threat from Pakistan's ruling coalition of arrest for various offfenses against the constitution, President Pervez Musharraf is resisting calls that he resign his ofice:

Mr. Musharraf spoke at a news conference in which he dismissed recent media reports that he was preparing to give up his post and go into exile.

The president also complained Saturday about the proposal by the Pakistan Peoples Party, the main political party in the government, for sweeping constitutional changes intended to limit his authority. He suggested that such changes, if they were approved by Parliament, might leave him in an untenable position. He said he did not want to become a "useless vegetable," wire services reported.

"Parliament is supreme," Mr. Musharraf said. "Whatever the Parliament decides, I will accept it." He added, "If I see that I don't have any role to play, then it is better to play golf."

In what might be a signal that he is ready to compromise more with the coalition government, Mr. Musharraf said that he believes in reconciliation. That is why, he said, he had allowed the return to the country of two former prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December. Mr. Sharif and Mrs. Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, of the Pakistan Peoples Party, are leading the coalition that is trying to curtail his power.

The president also was critical of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, whom Mr. Musharraf put under house arrest after Dr. Khan confessed to selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Dr. Khan told several news organizations last month that his confession was false and made under pressure from the president.

Whether Musharraf stays or goes, his influence is virtually gone. His party is a minority party in Parliament. He gave up being Army Chief of staff. And while he still has friends in the military, he commands no troops. He is virtually ignored when it comes to plans for the future by the new government.

It seems likely that the parliament will pass the constitutional changes that would prevent the president from dismissing parliament and ruling by decree. If so, the influence of the army will also decline which may help the new Pakistani government in the long run.

Under threat from Pakistan's ruling coalition of arrest for various offfenses against the constitution, President Pervez Musharraf is resisting calls that he resign his ofice:

Mr. Musharraf spoke at a news conference in which he dismissed recent media reports that he was preparing to give up his post and go into exile.

The president also complained Saturday about the proposal by the Pakistan Peoples Party, the main political party in the government, for sweeping constitutional changes intended to limit his authority. He suggested that such changes, if they were approved by Parliament, might leave him in an untenable position. He said he did not want to become a "useless vegetable," wire services reported.

"Parliament is supreme," Mr. Musharraf said. "Whatever the Parliament decides, I will accept it." He added, "If I see that I don't have any role to play, then it is better to play golf."

In what might be a signal that he is ready to compromise more with the coalition government, Mr. Musharraf said that he believes in reconciliation. That is why, he said, he had allowed the return to the country of two former prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December. Mr. Sharif and Mrs. Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, of the Pakistan Peoples Party, are leading the coalition that is trying to curtail his power.

The president also was critical of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, whom Mr. Musharraf put under house arrest after Dr. Khan confessed to selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Dr. Khan told several news organizations last month that his confession was false and made under pressure from the president.

Whether Musharraf stays or goes, his influence is virtually gone. His party is a minority party in Parliament. He gave up being Army Chief of staff. And while he still has friends in the military, he commands no troops. He is virtually ignored when it comes to plans for the future by the new government.

It seems likely that the parliament will pass the constitutional changes that would prevent the president from dismissing parliament and ruling by decree. If so, the influence of the army will also decline which may help the new Pakistani government in the long run.