GENERAL Musharraf's decision to step down ahead of an imminent impeachment is welcome as it brings to an end the confrontation between the Presidency and the ruling coalition that did not appear to be relenting in its drive to oust him from power. "No chargesheet can stand against me but it is not the time for individual bravado.... In the interest of the nation, I have decided to resign," he said in a live televised address Monday afternoon, which stretched for over an hour. And the announcement laid to rest all speculations about his contesting the charges being framed against him in the Parliament. The President consumed much of the time of his address enumerating the achievements of his protracted rule and taking pride in all that he had done for the wellbeing of the people and the security of the country. The list was pretty long: A booming economy growing at seven percent, revenue collection crossing Rs 1 trillion, the KSE index at an all-time high of close to 1600 points, more than $17 billion in foreign exchange reserves, massive industrialization and, to top it all, an astronomical rise in the number of cellphone users. Then there was a lot done for higher education: Nine universities from different foreign countries agreed to set up their campuses in Pakistan, primary and secondary healthcare was given priority, special measures were taken for women empowerment, honour killings were discouraged, the Hudood Ordinance revamped in line with Islamic injunctions and opportunities were given to minorities. But while he conceded that the current economic crisis was owing to the rising oil prices in the international market, he blamed the coalition for its failure to contain it in the last eight months. It was no surprise to see him take credit for incorporating what he called the essence of democracy into the system, holding two general elections, at least one of which he believed was the fairest in the country's political history. But he must be economising on truth when he claimed that he had always decided important matters by taking all stakeholders on board. There would be few takers for his view since the nation had hardly seen him consulting the PM or his cabinet. Parliament had been reduced to a mere rubberstamp and it was the military-dominated National Security Council which had a final say in dealing with the issues related to international diplomacy and national security. The President avoided the issue of extremism, probably because he knew then he might have to do a lot of explaining about the Lal Masjid tragedy, the tribal conflagration that shows no sign of abating and his government's blind cooperation in the War on Terror. Balochistan is another bleeding wound. Apart from the murder of one of the country's pre-eminent pro-federalist leaders, Nawab Akbar Bugti, the Baloch population was subjected to the worst kind of repression. If this was the stability he claimed to have brought to the country, then Chile under Pinochet would have been more stable than Pakistan under his military rule. General Musharraf talked about strengthening the state institutions, but he deliberately skipped mention of his November-3 Proclamation of Emergency and the dismissal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and 48 other judges. The decision was taken at a time when the apex court was about to give verdict against his eligibility to contest for the presidency. Seven months after summoning him to the Army House and making an abortive attempt to force him to resign, the President finally got rid of a defiant Chief Justice. But the action led to a considerable weakening of his own position that eventually culminated in his ostensibly voluntary resignation. The day climaxing a silent revolution will go down as a major landmark of our history and may leave some important lessons for those who had been used to nursing Bonapartist notions. After Musharraf's exit, the ruling coalition will have to accept the responsibility of running the government because from now on it would not be able to find anyone else to shift the blame for its failures. Its first test will be the nomination of the new President and the faster it can find a candidate, who is acceptable to a broad spectrum of political and social circles, the quicker it can move on to tackling other challenges.