Pakistan's President to Step Down

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WASHINGTON - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says he's resigning from office, and that could have a big impact on the war on terror.

Musharraf: Putting My Country First

In an emotional televised address, Musharraf announced he is stepping down as Pakistan's president, resigning to put the country ahead of his own interests.

"For the sake of nation and country today I am deciding to resign from the post. I leave my future in the hand of nation and the people. Let them be the judge and let them do justice," Musharraf said.

The announcement came just as parliament was preparing to impose impeachment charges over Musharraf's recent attempts to assert authoritarian rule.

His popularity tanked last year when he removed dozens of judges, suspended the constitution, and declared emergency rule. It was a move that sparked clashes and rioting throughout the country.

Many Pakistanis believe his close alliance with the United States is to blame for the increasing violence inside their borders.

His political rivals won parliamentary elections last February and have been seeking his removal ever since.

It's a far cry from his former standing, dominating Pakistani politics for eight years.

He came to power in a bloodless military coup in 1999 and became a key U.S. ally after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Not Going Quietly

In his parting words, he blasted the coalition government for the country's current problems and insisted whatever he did was for the people and for the country of Pakistan.

At the moment, it's unclear who will be his likely successor, but Musharraf must be replaced within 30 days.

Washington will be watching closely - concerned not only about Pakistan's democratic reforms, but maintaining a strategic alliance and keeping a close eye on the radical Islamists within the nuclear-armed country.

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John Jessup

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