I will not quit: Musharraf

By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS,

Islamabad : Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declared Saturday that he would not resign now and would take a decision on this in the best interests of the country if ever needed.

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“Let me tell you I won’t resign in the present situation,” Musharraf asserted while talking to news anchors of different TV channels. However, some leading anchors who are known for their hostility towards the president were not invited to the meeting, held at the presidency.

“The people who have specific agendas are spreading rumors … I will only resign if ever I felt that I am no more needed for the country. I would like to continue but if I have to sit idle in the presidency, I would prefer to quit,” Musharraf said.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that heads the country’s ruling coalition had drafted a constitution amendment package that, according to media reports, will drastically curtail the president’s powers, particularly those relating to the dissolution of parliament.

Musharraf insisted he was an elected president and would not resign under any pressure -but would respect any decision parliament took on him.

“If parliament wants me to quit, I will but I cannot leave the presidency on the wishes of people who have no authority,” he added.

“I think parliament is supreme and I will accept any verdict of parliament,” said Musharraf, who toppled prime minister Nawaz Sharif and dismissed parliament in 1999.

Musharraf, who was then the army chief, was elected president in 2002 and again in 2007. He then shed his uniform and was sworn in as a civilian president last November.

He said he could not even think of dismissing the government or suspending parliament.

“I am a stable person and cannot even think of invoking article 58-2 (under which parliament can be dissolved),” Musharraf said.

The president also trashed reports that he would leave the country after stepping down.

“I don’t have a home anywhere outside Pakistan and will live only in my own country,” he said, adding that he loved Turkey as he had lived there for seven years when his father was posted there “but that does not mean that I will go there after my retirement”.

The president said he believed in democracy and took decisions only after discussions with his colleagues.

“But let me clear here that there’s a difference between political democracy and military democracy … in military democracy we discuss all issues and in almost 95 percent of cases, we reach a collective decision,” Musharraf said.

He also said he was not for confrontational politics.

“I believe in reconciliation. My talks with (slain PPP leader) Benazir Bhutto, sending Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia on his request (in 2000 instead of trying him for corruption) are examples of my reconciliation in politics,” the president said.

Musharraf also said he would welcome any enquiry into the 1999 Kargil war with India – but with a caveat.

“Let me say that there are confidentialities and state secrets that should not be made public like (Lt. Gen. retired) Jamshed Gulzar (Kiani) did,” Musharraf maintained.

Kiani, during a TV show, had demanded Musharraf’s trial in open court for the misadventure in Kargil, the attack on students of the Lal Masjid seminary here and several other issues. He claimed that even the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was unaware of the Kargil operation.

Musharraf rejected Kiani’s suggestion, saying: “There are national secrets involved in the Kargil issue and we cannot hold a national debate on this.”

According to the president, it was “sad that people like Kiani, who earned everything because of the army are now speaking against it. I was shocked that a person who has risen to the rank of lieutenant general in army was speaking like this … I can’t say on whose behest he did it.”

Musharraf angrily demanded that the army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, should look into what the retired officer has been saying as “this can be very dangerous”.

Reacting to a statement by scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who mentored Pakistan’s nuclear programme, that he had never proliferated the country’s secrets, Musharraf termed it “totally false”.

“I don’t want to get into any debate about his proliferation as these are national secrets but let me make it clear to you that what A.Q. Khan is saying is totally false,” Musharraf maintained.

Khan, in a nationally televised address in 2004 had admitted to proliferating the country’s nuclear secrets. Musharraf then pardoned Khan but placed him under house arrest.

The scientist was last month seen in public for the first time in four years.