Thursday, November 29, 2007
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan gave up his uniform in a ceremony yesterday in Rawalpindi. He handed power over to General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the headquarters of the Pakistani Army, after being the leader of the army for nine years.
In his final address as leader of the army, he said that the army was the saviour of Pakistan and that the army was his life. He also expressed his pride in being the leader of what he called a “great force.”
Musharraf had been under a lot of pressure to quit as army chief, since the country was put into the spotlight as a result of a state of emergency being declared. He is expected to be sworn in as the civilian president of Pakistan on Thursday.
Both the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, and the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, welcomed the change of duties. However, Bhutto indicated her party may not be prepared to accept Musharraf in his new non-military leadership role. Condoleezza Rice requested the state of emergency be lifted before the planned elections, which are due to take place in January.
Musharraf said General Kayani was “an excellent soldier” and that “the armed forces under his command will achieve great heights.”
General Kayani was named as the successor to Musharraf in October, before the state of emergency was declared in early November.