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Musharraf spends time with family, friends
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August 20, 2008 14:27 IST

Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf's [Images] first day out of the office he had occupied for nearly nine years was spent in a leisurely manner, listening to the songs of Mohammed Rafi and mingling with family and friends who congratulated him on his "safe exit".

The day started with breakfast with his family and Musharraf was "relaxed because there was no hurry of going to office on time."

There were also courtesy calls by some old friends. Musharraf sought their views on his resignation, the future of Pakistan after his stepping down and the election of the next president.

Most of Musharraf's friends congratulated him on his "safe exit", The News daily reported. One friend, a retired naval official, pointed out that Musharraf was the only military ruler who was given a guard of honour by the army on his departure from the presidency.

Among the other military rulers, Gen Ayub Khan and Gen Yahya Khan were forced to resign while Gen Zia-ul-Haq was killed in a plane crash.

Musharraf received phone calls from his relatives and well-wishers, mostly from Europe and America. They expressed their solidarity with the former president and said the two main coalition partners, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Ali Zardari, would start fighting with each other and Musharraf should stay in Pakistan to watch the goings-on.

When a friend informed him that Zardari wanted to replace him with a woman, he laughed and claimed, "As long as (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief) Maulana Fazlur Rehman is part of the ruling coalition, no woman can become president of Pakistan."

Rehman, who earlier wanted to become prime minister or deputy prime minister, recently indicated that he was interested in the president's post. 

In the afternoon, Musharraf watched TV channels, which were beaming the celebrations by the public on his departure.

He smilingly commented that "all these TVwallahs will be taught great lessons by Zardari and Nawaz Sharif soon."

He listened to songs by Rafi in the evening, including his favourite Chal Urr Jaa Rey Panchi. He called a friend and reportedly told him, "I am here, I will not run away. I am not a panchi (bird) who will fly away from Pakistan."

The former president also reportedly told visiting friends that Zardari would never restore deposed Supreme Court
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry because "he would not spare Zardari" if he was brought back to his old position.

According to one of the visitors, Musharraf said: "You know some PML-Q leaders suggested to me to cancel the National Reconciliation Ordinance and restore the deposed judges before tendering my resignation as they were sure that deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will become a big problem for Zardari.

I decided not to do that. I know Zardari will not restore Justice Iftikhar and Nawaz Sharif will fight him on this issue. Even if Iftikhar is restored, he will not spare Zardari. Let the enemies fight with each other."

Musharraf was also hopeful that a situation would be created in the coming weeks when he would "get a chance to play a political role."

He indicated that he wanted to prove that he could play a role even without a uniform.

And while he was happy on his "safe exit", Musharraf shared his disappointment about some "ungrateful" people who left him in the last days of his presidency. One of them was Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, who was appointed to the post by Musharraf during last year's emergency.

Musharraf reportedly contacted Dogar as he wanted a stay order from the Supreme Court against the impeachment motion, but Dogar declined.

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