ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Predictions that Pervez Musharraf will have to flee Pakistan to escape treason charges have died, along with the coalition that drove him from the presidency.
The ex-general, 65, can now look forward to comfortable — though high-security — retirement in the luxury villa, complete with a swimming pool and a strawberry patch, that he is building in an elite suburb of the capital.
Since resigning Aug. 18 to avoid impeachment, the former military ruler has stayed below the radar as the country he ran for nine years has plunged into fresh political turmoil.
Nawaz Sharif, whose government Musharraf toppled in a 1999 coup, has been baying for revenge in the form of a trial for sedition — a crime punishable with death. But Sharif pulled his party out of the government this week as the widower of slain former leader Benazir Bhutto made a grab for Musharraf's succession.
Asif Ali Zardari, who has seized control of his late wife's party and expects lawmakers to elect him head of state on Sept. 6, has said he doesn't object to Musharraf's putting his feet up in Pakistan. Many believe Musharraf stepped down only after Zardari promised to leave him in peace — partly to please foreign backers such as the United States and Saudi Arabia.
"There is hardly any chance that Musharraf will ever be tried in Pakistan," said Nazir Naji, a commentator for Pakistan's top-selling Jang newspaper. "I believe Musharraf got all the guarantees he wanted."
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Friday that Zardari was staying at a hilltop mansion in Islamabad's government quarters "for security reasons." He did not elaborate, but an intelligence official said there had been reports that the presidential hopeful could be the target of an attack.