Pakistan's Musharraf Bids Farewell to Army President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in full military regalia, says goodbye to his troops, a day before he plans to stand down as military chief to become a civilian head of state.
NPR logo Pakistan's Musharraf Bids Farewell to Army

Pakistan's Musharraf Bids Farewell to Army

Rashed Rahman, executive editor of The Post in Lahore

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Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf salutes as the national anthem is played during a farewell ceremony at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Tuesday. Musharraf began a pomp-filled farewell to his troops one day before he bows to global pressure and quits as army chief to become Pakistan's civilian leader. Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty hide caption

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Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf salutes as the national anthem is played during a farewell ceremony at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Tuesday. Musharraf began a pomp-filled farewell to his troops one day before he bows to global pressure and quits as army chief to become Pakistan's civilian leader.

Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty

Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf bid farewell to his troops on Tuesday, a day before he planned to stand down as military chief to become a civilian head of state in a move aimed at legitimizing his rule and easing the country's political crisis.

A guard of honor composed of service personnel from the army, navy and air force greeted him as he arrived at armed forces headquarters in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near the capital Islamabad.

Musharraf spokesman Rashid Qureshi said the president would make "farewell visits" before ending a military career that began in 1964. Musharraf's successor, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, a former chief of the country's powerful intelligence service, was expected to take charge Wednesday.

The opposition has demanded that Musharraf relinquish his role as military chief, and rescind a state of emergency he declared on Nov. 3.

On Thursday, Musharraf "will take oath of office as president of Pakistan as a civilian," Qureshi said Monday.

Musharraf has faced growing opposition since March, when he tried unsuccessfully to fire the Supreme Court's top judge.

The political crisis was aggravated when Musharraf declared emergency rule, citing an increase in militancy in the country's northwest. The general also accused the Supreme Court of overstepping its authority and paralyzing the government, just as it was about to rule on the validity of his victory in a recent presidential election.

Musharraf now faces strong opposition from two of his key opponents - Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto - both former prime ministers who have returned from exile in time for crucial parliamentary elections slated for Jan. 8.

Sharif, who was ousted by the 1999 coup that put Musharraf in power, and Bhutto both registered Monday to run in the election. But like other smaller opposition groups, they indicated their parties may boycott the vote to undermine its legitimacy.

Sharif, who returned home Sunday from Saudi Arabia, appealed for support from Pakistanis unhappy with Musharraf's alliance with the U.S. and the American-friendly stance of Bhutto, his one-time political archrival.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press