( AFP ) - President Pervez Musharraf began a pomp-filled farewell to his troops Tuesday, one day before he bows to global pressure and quits as army chief to become Pakistan's civilian leader.
Facing mounting anger at home and abroad over his three-week-old state of emergency, the beleaguered US ally embarked on a two-day tour of the military establishment to say his goodbyes.
He is to resign as chief of army staff on Wednesday. The following day, he will take the oath for a second five-year term as president -- but this time without the uniform that he has described as being like his skin.
His first stop Tuesday was at the Joint Staffs headquarters, combining the top commands of the army, navy and air forces, where Musharraf was presented with a guard of honour, an AFP reporter witnessed.
A military band played martial tunes and the national anthem before troops marched past Musharraf, who wore ceremonial dress decorated with medals and a green sash.
He also had a 15-minute meeting with General Tariq Majid, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at which they exchanged souvenirs.
He was later to visit the separate headquarters of the air force and navy, officials said.
"General Musharraf will make a series of farewell visits to various military headquarters on Tuesday and Wednesday," presidential spokesman Rashid Qureshi told AFP.
On Wednesday he will be driven to the army's general headquarters to hand over his position as head of the nuclear-armed military to his heir apparent, former spy chief General Ashfaq Kiyani.
By resigning from the military, Musharraf, who grabbed power in a coup in 1999 and then signed up to the US-led fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, is meeting a key demand of the international community.
But the move is unlikely to placate opposition leaders at home who are threatening to boycott elections set for January 8 in the midst of one of the most serious political crises since its formation 60 years ago.
Last week a purged Supreme Court rubber-stamped Musharraf's victory in an October presidential election, swatting away legal challenges arguing that as a serving officer, he was ineligible to stand.
He will remain supreme commander of the armed forces, with the power to sack civilian governments, but faces fierce political opposition that could leave him saddled with a hostile parliament that smells blood.
His arch-foe Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister whom he ousted eight years ago, returned from exile on Sunday vowing to end "dictatorship" in Pakistan and saying he would never serve in government under him.
Musharraf was appointed chief of Pakistan's 500,000-strong army by Sharif himself in 1998.
Another ex-prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, returned home last month and is expected to hold talks with Sharif on a joint strategy for general elections.
As Pakistan's second-longest serving army chief after military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, who died in a plane crash in 1988, Musharraf also faces a rising wave of Islamic militant bloodshed.
On Tuesday officials and residents said Pakistani troops had re-captured a strategic mountain from pro-Taliban militants in the northwest Swat valley and shut down their pirate radio station.
The country has also suffered a record number of suicide attacks in 2007, including a double bombing at Bhutto's homecoming parade in Karachi on October 18 that killed 139 people and wounded hundreds.
Musharraf cited growing militancy and an unruly judiciary as reasons for imposing emergency rule, although critics say his real motive was to purge the Supreme Court of hostile judges who could have overruled his election.
The United States said Monday that Musharraf had taken "some encouraging steps" toward returning to constitutional rule -- notably pledging to quit the army -- but must lift the state of emergency.