Old commando habits die hard for Musharraf

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Islamabad, Aug 16 : By refusing to go down without a fight, demanding immunity to any future prosecution and determined to continue living in his home country, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is displaying his commando style of functioning, a member of the ruling coalition government has said.

"We're hitting a wall now and we're so close [to impeachment proceedings]. It's this commando thing of his. His living here would be like a red rag to a bull. He wants to be photographed playing golf and taking it easy," The Globe and Mail quoted the coalition leader as saying.

According to the paper, negotiations aimed at pushing Musharraf from office are stalling for only a few days before impeachment hearings are to begin in Pakistan's parliament early next week.

While an exit deal is still the most likely outcome, the President is holding out for a better agreement and the talks are going down to the wire. His spokesman has consistently insisted that Musharraf has no intention of resigning, added the paper.

The coalition wants Musharraf to leave Pakistan for at least a year or two, until emotions cool down, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The President's private home, a mansion that is still under construction, is located in an upscale neighbourhood just outside Islamabad, so he would be a constant presence. He hopes initially to live in Karachi while it is completed.

"Basically Musharraf is being stubborn, the two sides are playing brinkmanship. Nawaz Sharif is sitting there, sharpening his knife," the paper quoted a prominent Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi as saying.

Musharraf has offered to leave Pakistan for some time, but only after three to six months. He is adamant that, unlike Sharif and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, politicians he despises, he not be seen to be fleeing the country as soon as he is out of office, said a friend of the President.

The President's legal adviser, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada went on national television to suggest that the impeachment proceedings would drag on for months. Musharraf is entitled to defend himself, use lawyers to represent him and call witnesses, he said. "The President has all the options, constitutional and political. All institutions will be seriously damaged [by impeachment], perhaps beyond repair," said Pirzada.

ANI

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