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Monday, May 16, 2022
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Pakistan

Now, Meet President Musharraf

The General appoints himself president as Pakistani political parties, Britain and the commonwealth protest; India guarded in reactions.

Now, Meet <i>President </i>Musharraf
Now, Meet President Musharraf
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

In a surprise development, Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf today took over as President in a move that gives him constitutional status ahead of his summit in India next month, while continuing to hold the powerful position of army chief.

Pakistanis woke up this morning to find from media that 20 months after he seized power by toppling prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999, Delhi-born musharraf, had already set in motion the process of tightening his hold over the country.

58-year-old Musharraf, who toppled prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999, was administered the oath of office by chief justice Irshad Hassan after incumbent Rafiq Tarar was summarily removed  and national assembly and provincial assemblies dissolved. These had remained suspended since he took over power.

His decision to assume the office of the President came just a day after the formal announcement that he would visit India from July 14 for talks with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 

He was administered the oath of office by chief justice Irshad Hassan at an impressive ceremony at the white marble president house, attended by federal ministers, top civilian and military officials and diplomats. His wife and other family members were also present.

Shortly after being sworn-in Musharraf said "I have a role to play in the stability of the country. My main concern is the political stability and harmony ...I pray to god that I should continue to serve the nation with all humility. 

"I have a job to do ... I will not let this nation down. And that's the reason I have decided to assume the office of the presidency."

Observers see Musharraf's sudden decision as a clever move to acquire a constitutional legitimacy in the eyes of the world before going to India where he may now now be taken more seriously. But the decision is unlikely to have the support of the country's political parties.

They said the General may make sweeping changes in the constitution giving more powers to the president and ensuring army's role in any future set up.

Musharraf later told reporters "let there be no no doubt that there is a change in our perception for the future. The supreme court order and judgement of holding elections in October 2002 is very clear. We will abide by that.

"The provincial and national elections will be held as scheduled next year. There is no no change in that. Let there be no no doubt on that score. The political activity and all activities will continue as before."

Earlier in the day the state run radio and television announced the presidential change in special bulletins and said the national assembly and provincial assemblies, suspended after the coup, had been dissolved and that Tarar had ceased to hold the office of the president with immediate effect.

Tarar had been president since January 1, 1998 and was due to occupy the post until January 2003.

The announcement said two amendments had been made to the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), through which Musharraf has been running the country after seizing power, to enable him to take over as president.

Musharraf called on Tarar before assuming office and during the hour-long meeting discussed "various issues of national importance", an official statement said.

It said Musharraf thanked Tarar for his "unflinching and principled support following the events of October 12, 1999."

Tarar, who became President during the regime of Sharif, wished Musharraf every success to make Pakistan "more stable and prosperous," it added.

Escorted by a police van, Tarar, 72, left his official residence around 1430 hrs IST and drove to his hometown in Lahore with his family.

Old Tradition

By taking over as the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf has only followed the tradition of three previous army Generals to assume the country's highest constitutional post today after being its chief executive for 20 months following a military coup. Pakistan has been ruled by the military for 26 of its 53 years of existence.

PTI

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