Musharraf to lift emergency rule

Musharraf to lift state of emergency on December 16 after taking oath as president.

    Musharraf resigned as head of the army a day earlier[Reuters] 
    Musharraf was sworn in as a civilian president in the country's capital, Islamabad earlier in the day.

    The oath was taken at the Aiwan-e-Sadr presidential palace one day after Musharraf stepped down as the head of Pakistan's military.

    Wearing a dark traditional tunic, he pledged to uphold the constitution and to do his utmost to preserve and protect the nation.

    Abdul Hameed Dogar, the chief justice Musharraf hand-picked after purging the supreme court when he imposed emergency rule on November 3, administered the oath to Musharraf.

    'Our way'

    Musharraf said that general elections would take place on January 8 "come hell or high water".

    Your Views

     

    Jinah, Tamil Nadu, India

     

    Send us your views

    "We want democracy, we want human rights, we want stability, but we will do it our way,"  he said in his first speech as civilian president.

    "We understand our society, our environment, better than anyone in the West."

    Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said Musharraf blamed Ifikhar Chaudhry, the former chief justice of the supreme court, for "derailing" the path to democracy.

    Hyder said: "[But] critics will tell you that this is false, and is being used to justify the current state of emergency."

    Possible boycott
     
    Musharraf also welcomed the return from exile of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, both former prime ministers.

    He said: "Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif are back. I personally feel this is good for the political reconciliation I have spoken of."

    However, neither were present at the ceremony and it remains unclear whether the changeover would defuse the threat of a boycott of the elections.

    Such a move would undercut Musharraf's effort to legitimise his rule through a democratic ballot.

    Lahore protests

    Meanwhile, Sharif has said that Musharraf's oath of office had no legitimacy and he demanded the reinstatement of judges sacked under the emergency.

    In the city of Lahore, about 250 lawyers in black suits clashed with police outside the city's main court.

    Both sides hurled bricks at each other.

    "We don't accept Musharraf even without his uniform. He has to go," said Malik Mohammad Arshad, a lawyer. 

    His eye swollen and head bleeding after begin hit by a brick.

    Lawyers have led widespread opposition to Musharraf since he dimissed Chaudhry in March.

    US praise 

    George Bush, the US president, praised Musharraf as "an absolute reliable partner in dealing with extremists and radicals" and hailed his decision to bow to quit as army chief.
     
    Bush said: "It is something that a lot of people doubted would ever happen. And he told me he would take off his uniform, and I appreciate that, that he kept his word."
     
    As civilian president, Musharraf will have the power to dismiss the government.

    Bhutto said on Wednesday that Musharraf had met one of her key demands, but said that "we are not in a hurry to accept Pervez Musharraf as a civilian president".

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.