Musharraf Resigns Amidst Growing Outcry Pervez Musharraf has resigned as Pakistan's president under threat of impeachment. It may be the final act in a long confrontation between Musharraf and the political opposition that has accused him of illegally seizing power and mishandling the country's economy. Shuja Nawaz, a Pakistani journalist and author, explains issues facing that nation's government.
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Musharraf Resigns Amidst Growing Outcry

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Musharraf Resigns Amidst Growing Outcry

Musharraf Resigns Amidst Growing Outcry

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I'm Lynn Neary and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we'll take a look at the state of social services after reports of the tragic death of Danieal Kelly in Philadelphia. The 14-year-old girl who had cerebral palsy was starved to death. Now two social workers are charged in connection with her death. More on that in a bit.

But first, to Pakistan where President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation. His nine-year tenure had become fragile and impeachment was looming. Musharraf quit under pressure and used his resignation speech to defend himself.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: False allegations filed against me, and they tried to turn truth into lie and they tried to deceive the people.

NEARY: The prospect of new leadership in Pakistan raises concern about the country's stability and its alliance with the U.S. in the War on Terror. Here to talk with us about this is Shuja Nawaz, a Pakistani journalist and author of the book, "Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within." Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

SHUJA NAWAZ: Thank you.

NEARY: Now tell us, President Musharraf was about to be impeached for violating the constitution. Remind us first, what were the charges?

NAWAZ: We haven't seen the charge sheet yet. But we can guess what the major charges were, beginning with the coup of 1999 when he overthrew Prime Minister Sharif. And under Article VI of the constitution of Pakistan it is high treason for anyone to overthrow a government, particularly for anyone in the military to overthrow a government. Of course, he had that coup validated by his own handpicked Supreme Court later on. But as he himself admitted, his second coup, which was last November in 2007, when he essentially had a coup against himself - he removed the justices - and as the army chief declared a state of emergency, he did acknowledge, in a moment of candid conversation, that that was extra-constitutional or rather illegal. So there were a number of very strong charges against him, which could probably not have been fought successfully by him.

NEARY: I think many people may remember the images of lawyers in Pakistan taking to the streets in their jackets and ties. That was quite an amazing image. That's really when things did begin unraveling, at that moment.

NAWAZ: Absolutely. That was last March 2007 when he removed the chief justice because he perceived, among other things, that the chief justice would not allow him to seek reelection since he was still the army chief and he had promised to remove his uniform. And of course, there were rules on the books that disallowed anyone who had been in this quote, "service of Pakistan," unquote, meaning, had been a bureaucrat or an army officer or a military person to run for political office without waiting two years. And Musharraf knew that these laws would stand against him so he removed the chief justice.

What he didn't take into account was that people wanted a change, that there was just Musharraf fatigue that had lasted seven plus years and they felt that it was time that their voice was heard.

NEARY: Well, as we heard at the top of the show in that clip, he was pretty defiant in that speech today and also trying to defend himself. Will that have an affect on how people regard him in Pakistan?

NAWAZ: Not at all. I think he'd lost his credibility particularly over the last year, and he's very argumentative, very impulsive also, and so super-confident that he basically orchestrated his own departure.

NEARY: Let me ask you about Pakistan relationship with the U.S. Musharraf, of course, a key ally to the United States. What happens now? What is expected to happen in that relationship?

NAWAZ: I think that relationship has to be rebuilt and it has to be a relationship between the people of Pakistan and the people of the United States rather than with a single individual in Pakistan. This was the weakness in the previous relationship, that the United States put all its eggs in one basket and it backed Musharraf even when the people of Pakistan was speaking up against him and were out in the streets, as you said.

NEARY: And the United States has said it is not going to grant asylum to Musharraf, and he wants to stay in Pakistan. Is that going to happen?

NAWAZ: Well, what people say and what they do is a very different thing. I do not think it would be safe for him to stay in Pakistan. I've actually, in the last few weeks when I was in Pakistan, visited the so-called farmhouse that he has built in an exclusive enclave of Islamabad and it's extremely vulnerable given the fact that he's on a number of hit lists, including that of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. He is likely not to be able to survive very long if he wants to live in that house without all the security that he is used to having.

NEARY: When does his resignation become effective? Is it immediate?

NAWAZ: That's the understanding. In his speech, he said he was sending the resignation this evening, Pakistan time, so it must have gone to the speaker of the National Assembly.

NEARY: And the chairman of Pakistan Senate is going to take over as acting president?

NAWAZ: He becomes the acting president and then there'll be a fresh election in which the provincial assemblies and the national assembly participate.

NEARY: And what do we know about the chairman of Pakistan's Senate, the man who will be the acting president?

NAWAZ: Well, he has been a man for all seasons. He was selected under Musharraf to head the Senate. He's a banker by background. He was also, concurrently, the caretaker prime minister in the government that basically organized the last elections that took place on February 18th. He may have some ambitions to become a permanent president but I doubt that he will be supported by the coalition.

NEARY: Shuja Nawaz is a native Pakistani journalist, author of the book, "Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within." He recently returned from Pakistan and was kind enough to join us here in our studios in D.C. Thanks so much for being with us today.

NAWAZ: Thank you.

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