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“Musharraf not quitting”

Nirupama Subramanian

President respects what the people have chosen, says spokesman

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf was not thinking of stepping down from office, a presidential spokesman reiterated on Sunday.

“The President is not thinking of quitting. This was not the presidential election. In these elections, people have selected candidates to represent them in the legislative assemblies. There is no reason for the president to quit,” retired Major General Rashid Qureishi, the spokesman for President Musharraf, told The Hindu on Sunday.

He was reacting to a report in the British Sunday Telegraph quoting a presidential aide that the retired General Musharraf would “quit within days, not months.”

General Musharraf’s political future has looked unsure since the Pakistan People’s Party, which emerged as the single largest party in the elections, and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) declared that they would work together for government formation.

Supported by other parties, they could move to impeach General Musharraf, although the PPP leadership has indicated it does not want to rock the boat.

At the very least, the PPP-PML (N) agreement on restoring the higher judges sacked in the November 3 imposition of the emergency may mean the reopening of a host of constitutional cases challenging his legitimacy.

Denying another report that President Musharraf was “sulking”, the spokesman said the President had brought the country “successfully” to the point where the country was now making the transition to a full civilian democracy.

“There is not the slightest bit of annoyance or not being happy with what the people of Pakistan have chosen. He genuinely believes that this is the will of the people of Pakistan and he respects it,” said Major General Qureishi.

Meanwhile, the PPP has apologised to the people of Balochistan “for the atrocities and injustices committed against them” and pledged to “embark on a new highway of healing and mutual respect.”

The apology came during a meeting between PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari and the newly elected provincial legislators of the province on Sunday. According to a statement from the party, Mr. Zardari said Balochistan had suffered hugely in the past and the PPP would do everything to “heal the wounds inflicted by the injustices of the past”.

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