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Musharraf gives in, ready to shed uniform

Nov 15, 2007 09:04 AM IST India India
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New Delhi: Under pressure from the United States to quit as army chief General Pervez Musharraf has finally bitten the bullet. The Pakistan President told a news agency that he will take off his uniform by the end of this month, ahead of a visit by a senior American diplomat. Earlier on Wednesday, the General sent the Karachi Stock Exchange into a tailspin when he seemed to suggest that he had considered quitting altogether in the recent past. He also complained that he felt abandoned by his Western allies. “We must have elections and I must handle the uniform issue. I can’t be a President in uniform now. The choice after that is whether I should stay at all. That option is available to me but should it be given up now? And will we have a more stable Pakistan and good elections without me?” Musharraf asked. Keeping the matter still ambiguous he added, “Well, I think of every option and discuss it.” However, Musharraf confirmed that till the elections Emergency will stay. He also said he will stay on as civilian President, warning that Pakistan would descend into chaos if he exited the scene. Meanwhile, the crackdown showed no signs of easing up in Pakistan. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act on Wednesday and now faces a life term in prison or even the death penalty. But there is still one leader who remains a threat for the President, even under house arrest, and that is former prime minister and PPP chief Benazir Bhutto. Blamed by Musharraf for creating turmoil in the country, she has now suggested that the US draw up an exit plan for the General.