In a bid to avoid his impeachment by parliament, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation in a televised speech. While hailing the departure of the “dictator”, one of our Observers in the country explains why the outgoing leader will be replaced by “crooks”.

Blogger Awab Alvi lives in Karachi (in southern Pakistan). He watched Musharraf’s speech on television.

I’m delighted by Musharraf’s announced departure, as he was a dictator. Yet, I’m hardly optimistic for the future, since the two opposition leaders who now run the country, Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif [leaders of the two main opposition parties, though not members of the government], are both corrupt politicians.

Growing rumours suggest Musharraf may attempt an imminent flight to Saudi Arabia. Apparently, a Saudi jet has been waiting for him since yesterday. People say a deal was struck with the opposition: if he agrees to go, they let him escape trial. Yet, it is important that he should answer the accusations levelled at him, in a fair trial. He needs to explain why hundreds of prisoners were illegally flown to the US, without trial. He also needs to answer questions about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The official inquiry lasted just a few days and focused exclusively on the manner of her killing, whether by gunshot or bomb. Nothing was done to identify the murder’s commissioners. Everyone believes Musharraf is hiding things. For instance, is it not surprising that Bhutto’s driver was killed a month ago? And that the woman accompanying Bhutto that day, Naheed Khan, has disappeared [she no longer talks to media, leading some to think she’s a victim of intimidation]? Finally, Musharraf must answer the accusations of corruption that have further tarnished his reputation.

Concerning Musharraf’s record so far, which he defended during his speech, I think he’s largely overestimated it. It is true that economic indicators were more positive during his mandate, particularly the record high reached by the Karachi stock exchange. However, markets were probably lured by false figures released by the president and his team concerning Pakistan’s economy. Meanwhile, the martial law instated last November certainly hurt the country. Musharraf stressed his successes in terms of security. Yet, here too, I see no improvement during his reign. Suicide attacks have never ceased.

Nonetheless, despite all his failings, I still preferred Musharraf to the pair that will now lead the country, Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. Those two are notorious crooks. Both have already been sentenced for corruption, only to then benefit from an amnesty. If the choice is between a crook in his first stint at power and others aiming for their third, I would choose the former. In fact, I wish all three would leave the country and leave their place to others".