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Saudis to Host Musharraf After Resignation
Will Musharraf dissolve assemblies and restore judges before resigning?
Saeed Minhas (sam67)     Print Article 
Published 2008-08-16 07:11 (KST)   
This article was only lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
As a pitched political battle rages on between embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and ruling alliance of the country, the Saudis seem to have extended an olive branch to all sides by assuring a safe place for Musharraf in Riyadh. A decision in this regard is likely to be taken by Musharraf within the next 48 hours.

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Informed sources confided that the intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia, Prince Muqarran, had to fly to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and spend more than three hours meeting with Musharraf, intelligence chiefs and some political big wigs in order to sort out the political mess in Pakistan. Highly placed sources are of the view that the Saudis have been asked to interfere by the American and British envoys because neither one of Musharraf's two Western allies seem willing to take the beleaguered president to their soil for fear of al-Qaida attacks. Musharraf has survived three attempts on his life and is high on the hit list of al-Qaida and other religious groups for helping the Americans in their war on terror and handing over dozens of wanted men and women from Pakistan to American authorities in lieu of hefty sums of money.

Earlier, the head of British intelligence, Mark Lyle Grant, who has also served in Pakistan as high commissioner, spent five days in Pakistan meeting the heads of the parties of the coalition government in Islamabad and Lahore besides calling on Musharraf. He has been instrumental in softening the stance of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif on Musharraf's accountability by assuring that the president would quit without staging any upset in politics. Following Grant's efforts, PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq confirmed on record that the four-party coalition government had agreed to give safe passage to Musharraf on the assurance that he would resign on Independence Day (Aug. 14).

But that matter seems to be stuck on the point that Musharraf wished to stay in Islamabad and wanted the government to provide him head of the state level security after resigning from the office of the president. Grant has already left for Britain, but following a deadlock on the issue of leaving or staying in the country with top security arrangements, the Saudis were asked to jump into the arena and ask Musharraf to be their guest in Riyadh.

Meanwhile, sources within the army believe that although chief of army staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiyani and all his crop commanders have made it a point to stay away from the political mess, certain quarters within the army still believe that Musharraf might create some upset before quitting. While referring to the use of the atomic clause of the Constitution -- 58 (2) (b) -- which empowers the president to dissolve the assemblies and issue a call for new elections, army sources claim that president might retrieve the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and might also restore all the judges he sacked on Nov. 3, 2007. The sources say that, knowing the president, he would fight to the end.

Meanwhile, Musharraf's spokesperson, Rashid Qureshi, has denied that a meeting between Prince Muqarran and the president took place and claimed that efforts of rapprochement between the president and the ruling collation partners are still going on. He reiterated that Musharraf does not want to resign or leave the country and instead would face the impeachment move. But sources within PML-Q, the opposition party siding with Musharraf, confirmed the arrival and meeting of the Saudi intelligence chief and were hopeful that a settlement would be reached soon.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Saeed Minhas

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