[JURIST] Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website; JURIST news archive] announced Monday he was resigning from office [press release] in order to avoid impeachment proceeding by the country's parliament. In a television address [ANI report], Musharraf denied any wrongdoing, but said that the proceedings alone would damage the country. Earlier on Monday, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) [official websites] coalition leaders had said that they had finalized an impeachment charge sheet [News report] against Musharraf and were planning to bring it before parliament as early as Tuesday. Despite repeatedly denying [press release] rumors that he planned to step down, Musharraf began his address by citing improvements he said Pakistan had made under his leadership and concluded:
Impeachment and chargesheet is the right of the Parliament and I have the right to defend myself against these charges. I am confident that no charge can be proved against me. All my actions were for the good of the people and the country. All my major decisions were the consent of all concerned and all stake-holders, e.g. services, bureaucracy, civil society, etc. I am not at all worried about the Charge-Sheet because nothing can be proved. But the larger issue is what is it going to cost Pakistan - its economy, political and social order, honour and prestige of the highest office of the state. Such are the considerations upper-most in my mind.There has been speculation that Musharraf may leave the country to avoid criminal prosecution, but opponents have criticized the possibility [IANS report] and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday that the US would not grant him asylum [Dawn report]. AFP has more. The News has local coverage.
Whether I'm impeached or not, the country's stability will be compromised. The office of the president will also be insulted. Pakistan is my love; now and always, my life is for Pakistan. I have defended and will continue to defend Pakistan. I want to be able to bring Pakistan out of the current crisis so I think perhaps should do something. But I also do not want to do something that may generate uncertainty in the country. I also want to save the Parliament from horse-trading. Even if the impeachment is defeated, the relations between the President's office and the coalition govt. will not heal. Institutions will be endangered. Therefore, with this situation in view and having consulted my legal and political advisors, I have decided to resign from my post.
I have decided to resign from the office of President and my resignation will be handed over to the Speaker of the National Assembly. I want the people to be the judges and let them decide my fate. I am a human being and may have committed follies.
Earlier this month, the coalition government said that it would push to impeach Musharraf because had given a "clear commitment" to step down from office after his party was defeated in parliamentary elections [JURIST reports], but subsequently refused to resign or go into exile, and because be had failed to follow through on a promise to ask parliament for a confidence vote. In June, the PML-N called for Musharraf's impeachment [JURIST report] and released a "charge sheet" outlining misuse of presidential authority, including the dismissal of the country's superior court judges. Also in June, PML-N leader and former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [JURIST news archive] called for Musharraf to be tried for treason [JURIST report], labeling him a traitor disloyal to Pakistan and saying he should be punished for the "damage" that he has done to the country in the years since he led a military coup [BBC backgrounder] and unseated Sharif in 1999.