Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 11:48 UK

Musharraf resignation deal denied

President Musharraf addressing the nation on 13 August 2008
President Musharraf has said he would rather resign than be impeached

A spokesman for President Musharraf of Pakistan has firmly denied newspaper reports that the former general has already agreed to step down.

Rashid Qureshi said Mr Musharraf - who is under the threat of impeachment - would not resign or seek immunity.

A leading supporter of the president said that messages were being exchanged between the different parties but no agreement had yet been reached.

The ruling coalition says it may start impeachment proceedings next week.

Dignified exit

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Islamabad says the stand-off might not go as far as an impeachment motion in parliament, as it is almost certain Mr Musharraf would lose if confidence votes that are being held this week in provincial assemblies are anything to go by.

Anti Musharraf protesters in Pakistan
Mr Musharraf seems to have fewer and fewer friends

The provincial assembly in Balochistan on Friday became the fourth and final province to call on Mr Musharraf to seek a vote of confidence in parliament or step down.

Our correspondent says that in each case, support for the president has almost entirely collapsed.

His best way out would now seem to be a dignified exit before parliament meets to debate the impeachment, he adds.

Talks are going on behind the scenes.

Our correspondent says that the parties will have to decide where the former army chief, a key ally in Washington's war on terror, is allowed to live and what protection he will receive.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was toppled in a coup by President Musharraf in 1999 and is leading the second-largest party, said he was opposed to any deal which would give his old rival a "safe passage".

Our correspondent say that a lot now depends on where the army, still Pakistan's most powerful institution, stands on the issue.

One of the president's former ministers, Tariq Azim, told the AFP news agency that one option would be for Mr Musharraf to become a "figurehead president" without the power to dissolve parliament.

"Talks are under way and many people are interested that the issue is settled amicably without going into the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf," he said.

On Thursday, the president said the country needed political stability for economic development and to fight militancy.

Differences should be buried, he said, pointing out that Pakistan was going through a "difficult phase in its history".

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