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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Musharraf Takes His Leave From Army Before Elections

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- President Pervez Musharraf bid farewell to his fellow commanders Tuesday, a day before he steps down as army chief to restore Pakistan to civilian rule.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who ousted Musharraf in a 1999 coup, said Musharraf's removal from the army would make "a lot of difference," but insisted that the president do much more to end Pakistan's political crisis.

An honor guard of about 150 army, navy and air force personnel stood at attention as Musharraf arrived at the army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. The colonial-style complex contains Musharraf's office, from which he has controlled Pakistan since ousting Sharif's government.

A military band played the national anthem as a grim-faced Musharraf, wearing a green-and-white sash over his uniform and with a row of medals pinned to his chest, inspected the troops on a small parade ground.

He held a brief closed-door meeting with other senior commanders, then traveled to the head offices of the navy and air force in the nearby capital, Islamabad.

Musharraf, who has dominated Pakistan for nearly eight years, has faced growing opposition since March, when he tried to fire the country's top judge.

The turmoil intensified when he declared emergency rule earlier this month and launched a crackdown on critics in the opposition and the media.

The general has purged the courts and quickly obtained a Supreme Court ruling validating his victory in a disputed presidential election last month.

Musharraf now faces strong criticism from two opponents -- Sharif and Benazir Bhutto -- both former prime ministers who have returned from exile in time for parliamentary elections slated for Jan. 8.