Rawalpindi, Nov 15: President Pervez Musharraf has said that he would step down as Army Chief after a Supreme Court ruling on the validity of his re-election, which he said was expected by the end of November.
He said that he would then begin a new presidential term as a civilian, warning that the country risks chaos if he gave into opposition demands to resign.
Musharraf said he had originally planned to quit as Army Chief by Thursday, when his presidential mandate expires, but was forced to delay until a court ruling on his re-election.
"All those who are blunt enough to tell me to my face what the reality is, all of them think, yes, it will lead the country to chaos if I do not handle the political environment now with me remaining as the president," he added.
Musharraf said that he does not believe al Qaeda has rebuilt in Pakistan, adding that the army remains absolutely loyal to him. He accused former premier Benazir Bhutto of fueling political turmoil, and rejected Western pressure to lift emergency rule.
Musharraf also dismissed a threat from the Commonwealth to suspend Pakistan unless the emergency is lifted by November 22. "I take decisions in Pakistan"s interest and I don"t take ultimatums from anyone," the Daily Times quoted Musharraf, as saying.
He said that there was an "acute trust deficit" between Benazir and him, and added that he did not think she could become premier for a third time by winning the elections.
Musharraf urged the opposition not to boycott the elections.