Nearly nine years after he seized power in a bloodless coup, Pakistan's beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf has decided to call it a day.
Dressed in a dark suit and looking sullen, the former army chief announced his resignation in a hastily arranged live televised address. "I hope the nation and the people will forgive my mistakes," he said, his voice thick with emotion. "Every decision I made was only with noble intentions."
Musharraf maintained his composure, but occasional flashes of indignation underscored the fact that the decision to step down was hardly his alone. It came days after the four-month-old coalition government decided to seek Musharraf's impeachment and the country's four provincial legislatures overwhelmingly passed what were in effect no-confidence votes against the President. Musharraf, a former commando who has braved two wars, was plainly reluctant to surrender, but the prospect of public humiliation at the hands of his political opponents proved decisive. "The coalition has decided that I am part of the problem and not the solution," Musharraf conceded in his speech. "I could fight back and answer back, but that may have led to deepening uncertainty."
After the assassination of Bhutto, I figured Musharraf's time in power was limited, but I thought, honestly, that he would have to be removed in a way that was similar to how he came to power (and perhaps, in some ways, it was, given that the article hints at 'discreet' words from an army chief, but who is to say, really). Ah well. No doubt this is a much more civilised way of doing things from everyone concerned, and time will reveal how better or worse off Pakistan ends after this.