Musharraf chills out on first day out of office (Lead, Changing dateline)

August 20th, 2008 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 20 (IANS) Pervez Musharraf spent his first day out of office as Pakistan’s president catching up with his family and friends - and listening to old Bollywood songs by Mohammad Rafi.”August 19 was a unique day in the life of Musharraf. It was his first day without power after nine years. The day started with a breakfast with his family,” The News reported Wednesday.

“He was relaxed because there was no hurry of going to office on time. He doesn’t have any office after 44 years but he has not given up. He was pretty sure that he would get one soon,” the newspaper added.

“Musharraf enjoyed songs by Rafi in the evening. He listened to his favourite song ‘Chal Urr Jaa Rey Panchi Key Aab Yeh Dais Hoa Begana’. After enjoying music he called a friend in the evening and told him ‘I am here, I will not run away I am not a ‘panchi’ who will fly away from Pakistan’,” prominent Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir wrote in The News.

During the day, there were courtesy calls from some old friends and Musharraf sought their views on his resignation, the future of Pakistan after his departure from office and especially about the next president of Pakistan.

Most of his friends congratulated him on his “safe exit”, The News said.

One friend, who retired from the navy a long time ago, reminded him that the first military president, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, was forced to resign by the then army chief, Gen Yahya Khan, in 1969. Yahya, in turn, was forced to quit by Gen Gul Hassan in 1971 after the Bangladesh fiasco. The third military president, Gen Zia-ul Haq, was killed in a plane crash in 1988.

Musharraf was the only one to be given a guard of honour by the army after his departure from the presidency, the former naval officer said.

Musharraf, on his part, was happy on his “safe exit” but was upset about the “ungrateful” people who had ditched him in the dying days of his presidency, The News said.

One of these people was Pakistani Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, whom Musharraf had installed Nov 3, 2007 after imposing an emergency and sacking incumbent Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

“Musharraf contacted Dogar through a very prominent lawyer in the first week of August 2008. Musharraf wanted a stay order from the Supreme Court against the impeachment motion announced by the ruling coalition to oust him. Dogar regretted and disappointed Musharraf,” The News said.

“One friend suggested that Musharraf not stay in Pakistan for a while. He mentioned a suicide bombing in Dera Ismail Khan (in Punjab on Tuesday that killed over 50 people). A concerned friend told Musharraf that extremists would try to harm him in Pakistan and he must take extraordinary precautionary measures,” the newspaper added.

Musharraf received a number of telephone calls from his relatives and fans mostly from Europe and America. They expressed their solidarity with the former president and said Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif (who led the two largest parties in the ruling coalition) would start fighting with each other and Musharraf should stay on in Pakistan to watch the “tamasha (circus)”.

One friend of Musharraf informed him that Zardari wanted to replace him with a woman as the new president of Pakistan. Musharraf laughed and claimed “as long as Maulana Fazlur Rehman (of the Jamiat-u-Ulema-i-Islam) is part of the ruling coalition, no woman can become president of Pakistan”.

Musharraf watched different TV channels in the afternoon that were showing celebrations by the public on his departure. Musharraf smilingly commented: “All these TV wallahs will be taught great lessons by Zardari and Nawaz Sharif soon,” adding in Urdu: “Inko Nani Yaad Aa Jaey Gi (The reality will soon dawn on them)”.

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