ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation Monday, ending an eight-year tenure that opponents said was hampering the country's labored return to democracy.
An emotional Musharraf said he wanted to spare the nation from a perilous impeachment battle and that he was satisfied that all he had done "was for the people and for the country."
"I hope the nation and the people will forgive my mistakes," Musharraf said in a televised address, much of which was devoted to defending his record and refuting criticisms.
It also was not clear whether Musharraf, a stalwart U.S. ally, would stay in Pakistan.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said leaders of the ruling coalition would discuss later Monday whether to prosecute Musharraf in court on charges that that were being planned for the impeachment process.
"It is a victory of democratic forces," Information Minister Sherry Rehman said. "Today the shadow of dictatorship, that has prevailed for long over this country, that chapter has been closed."
Musharraf, who has been largely sidelined since his rivals came to power, had resisted the mounting calls to quit, even after the coalition finalized impeachment charges against him and threatened to send a motion to Parliament later this week.
In announcing he would quit after all, Musharraf mentioned the many problems facing Pakistan, including its sinking economy. He said his opponents were wrong to blame him for the mounting difficulties. "I pray the government stops this down-sliding and take the country out of this crisis," he said.
"That is a decision that has to be taken by the democratic leadership," Qureshi, who is from the main ruling Pakistan People's Party, told Dawn News television. The leaders would assess the speech and the political situation, he said.
While Musharraf was a "good ally" who "kept his word" on ending military rule when he stepped down as army chief last year, whether he should resign "is a matter for Pakistan to determine," she said.