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Pervez ‘mystery’ continues

world Updated: May 30, 2008 22:35 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Pakistan is abuzz with rumours that President Pervez Musharraf is about to step down despite a denial from the President House. It is believed that a meeting between the President and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani earlier this week has set the ball rolling for the exit of Musharraf.

But Musharraf is adamant on staying on. He told a seminar on Friday that he would not resign and that the news of his exit was a "conspiracy against the democratic set up" he had helped set up.

The PML-Q also supported the President’s stand by saying that under the National Reconciliation Ordinance, the President would complete his five-year term in office. PML-Q leader Senator Memon told a press conference that the exit of President Musharraf was "out of the question".

Local media on Friday published reports that a special plane had arrived at the Chaklala Air Base near Islamabad and that packing was being carried out at President House. However, a spokesperson of the President said that all these reports were false.

On Thursday, President Musharraf commented at an official engagement that "rumour mongers want to create a rift between me and the army". He said that these rumours were harming Pakistan as a wave of uncertainty had gripped the nation. He commented that such unfounded news had affected the stock exchange particularly bad.

But local commentators said there is no smoke without fire. "All the signs are there for a change at President House," said one analyst. Former interior minister and general, Moinuddin Haider has pointed to the change in the command of the Triple One (111) Brigade, an elite army unit, as significant.

Haider said that replacing the head of the unit abruptly meant that this was "not an ordinary development". The unit is assigned to the President for his security.