Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf Resigns As Army Chief
President Pervez Musharraf resigned his military post as Chief of Army Staff Wednesday, handing over the command stick to his successor in a ceremony at army headquarters and ending his eight years of military rule. He remains president and will be sworn in to a new five-year term in the capital on Thursday, but as a civilian president his power will be diminished.
General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, 55, the vice chief of army staff, becomes the Chief of Army Staff, replacing Musharraf. Kayani — the former head of the Inter Services Intelligence and a graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas — has played a prominent role in cooperating with the United States in the fight against terrorism in Pakistan and is expected to continue that policy.
Musharraf had come under growing pressure internationally and from his own disenchanted public to relinquish his military post, and his grip on political power will be significantly loosened without the uniform. While the military remains loyal to him, Kayani is understood to want to remove the army from the forefront of politics and concentrate on military concerns.
Musharraf, who imposed emergency rule on the country on Nov. 3, imprisoning political opponents, lawyers and judges and closing down television stations, will continue to chair the national security council as a civilian president and has given himself added powers under recent amendments.
After 46 years in the army, Musharraf admitted it was wrenching to give up his military role. "I am sad to leave the army which has been like a family to me," he said in an emotional speech before Pakistani government and military officials and their wives gathered on a parade ground in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, south of the capital. "Although I am taking off the uniform the army will always be in heart."
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Latest: President Musharraf is expected to lift emergency in Pakistan in next the 48 hours, the Dawn news channel reported today. Further details awaited.
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