Gen Kayani looks Musharraf in the eye: Countdown begins...

Gen Kayani looks Musharraf in the eye By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
The News, May 29, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held an extremely important meeting with President Pervez Musharraf at the Army House Rawalpindi late on Wednesday.

The meeting continued till after midnight lasting more than three-and-a-half hours. This was their longest one-on-one encounter. The meeting, which was significant in view of the current political and security situation in the country, gained further importance as it took place after day-long consultations of the Army chief with his important commanders.

Brigadier Faheem Rao has taken over the command of the Triple-One Brigade in place of the president's loyal commander Brigadier Aasim Bajwa. The commando unit looking after the security of the Presidency has been changed with another unit.

Highly placed sources told The News late on Wednesday evening that President Pervez Musharraf has made up his mind to call it a day and he can make an announcement in this regard any time. His closest aides are of the view that after losing all hope of survival in power the president has made up his mind to lead a retired life.

Sources said though the president's official spokesman denied this impression, Musharraf has no option left but to quit. The president has already been asked by 'important officials' not to think about any step that may further aggravate the already fragile political situation in the country. Musharraf has consented to leave the Army House immediately and he may move to the President House within 48 hours before calling it a day.

"There is no question of any extra-constitutional step by him or on his behalf. The president has lost the capacity to invoke constitutional provisions like 58-2 (b), dissolving the assembly and the government. The question of introducing an impeachment motion would not come as the president will leave office and get a safe passage. The drop scene of the drama that started on March 9 last year is bound to appear any time soon," the sources said.

Meanwhile, Brigadier Aasim Salim Bajwa, who served President Pervez Musharraf as his military secretary in his initial days and was considered to be the most loyal Army officer of the president, was made commander of the Triple-One Brigade, which is responsible for the security of the president, federal capital and Rawalpindi, by President Pervez Musharraf before relinquishing the office of the Army chief. This Brigade has always played a main role in staging coups in the past.

Brigadier Bajwa also provided Musharraf admirable assistance in tabulation of his book 'In the Line of Fire'. He was due to take part in war-course in August this year but is now proceeding for another course to the United States next week. Brigadier Faheem Rao has been appointed Commander Triple-One Brigade. He has already taken over the charge of the Brigade, the sources said.

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