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Pakistan's Musharraf Denies Resignation Rumors

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is denying rumors that he is planning to resign following weeks of criticism from his opponents, some of whom have vowed to impeach him. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that the president pledged to abide by whatever decisions the country's new parliament may make on his political future.

Nearly four months after President Musharraf's unpopularity propelled his political opponents to election victories across the country, the former general continues to be a lightning rod for criticism. But despite holding a majority of seats in parliament, his opponents have made no headway in reversing his most controversial policies.

In recent weeks, with critics threatening to impeach him and press reports speculating that he has lost the support of the military, there have been rumors that he is planning to flee the country.

In a televised interview with Pakistani political reporters broadcast Saturday, Mr. Musharraf said he has no plans to step down but suggested he could in the future.

He says that he is not going to resign. But he says in the future, he will monitor the situation - and he will not become what he called a "useless vegetable" or be a witness to what he called "the downfall of the country."

It is unclear if his opponents in parliament have the two-thirds majority needed for impeachment. As president, Mr. Musharraf can dissolve parliament - which some observers have suggested he may do if parliament moves against him. But the president today said he will abide by any decision parliament reaches.

"Parliament is supreme," he said. "Let them decide. The judgment and decision is not with me. I don't have that decision. The parliament is supreme. This is the correct path, it's a constitutional, legal, sober path."

Pakistani lawmakers are considering a large constitutional reform package that includes measures that could weaken Mr. Musharraf's powers. The president insisted he is not interfering in that process.

In Saturday's occasionally casual discussion with Pakistani reporters who have been critical of Mr. Musharraf in the past, the president insisted that he has changed little over the years, despite his rising and falling political fortunes in Pakistan and abroad.

"I am the same man, I am the same person, I do not change," he added. "I don't believe in changing. My attitudes toward everyone and everything remain the same."

He says he is a true Pakistani and his faith in Pakistan comes first.

Mr. Musharraf appealed for political unity to address Pakistan's pressing economic problems. Many Pakistanis say the new government has been too focused on reinstating senior judges instead of addressing rising food prices, inflation and electricity shortages.