Thursday, June 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Musharraf appoints himself President
Remains Chief Executive; removes Tarar

Islamabad, June 20
The Pakistan Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, was installed as the country’s fourth military President here today, shortly ahead of crucial summit-level talks with India.

There had been speculation for the past week that General Musharraf would meet with the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, with some kind of constitutional legitimacy following criticism from former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that any deal he made on Kashmir with India would not be binding on future civilian governments in Pakistan.

General Pervez Musharraf (C) inspects an honour guard in Islamabad on Wednesday.
General Pervez Musharraf (C) inspects an honour guard in Islamabad on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

Chief Justice Irshad Hasan Khan administered the oath of office to General Musharraf at a ceremony attended by top government officials, federal ministers, diplomats, General Musharraf’s wife and family members, reports said.

General Musharraf retains his role as the Chief Executive and the Commander of the armed forces.

In a statement after the swearing-in ceremony, General Musharraf pledged to return the military-ruled country to democracy next year.

Attired in a black sherwani (traditional long coat), General Musharraf took the oath under law.

He told reporters after the ceremony that there were constitutional, political and economic considerations behind his decision to become President.

“My concern has been to provide political stability and harmony to Pakistan,” he said, adding that “I would like to provide checks and balances for superstructure and to ensure the sustainability of reforms undertaken by my government.”

He said the business community and foreign investors had also been stressing for the continuity and sustainability of these economic reforms.

However, he promised that he would abide by the deadline set by the Supreme Court for holding of parliamentary elections in the country before 2002.

Earlier, General Musharraf called on the outgoing President, Mohammad Rafiq Tarar, before assuming the office, officials said.

The Chief Executive remained with Mr Tarar for nearly an hour during which “various issues of national importance” came under discussion, an official statement said.

Reports said that escorted by a police van, Mr Tarar, 72, left his official residence around 2 p.m. and drove to his hometown in Lahore with his family. His five-year term was due to expire in January, 2003.

A former high court judge, Mr Tarar was elected during the tenure of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted by General Musharraf in a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999.

The statement said General Musharraf thanked Mr Tarar for his “unflinching and principled support following the events of October 12, 1999”. UNI


PM speaks to General; Pak contests remark
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 20
India and Pakistan today agreed to tone down the “political rhetoric” in both countries before the July 14 summit in Agra as the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, spoke to General Pervez Musharraf this morning hours before he took over as the President of the country.

In what was the first-ever contact between the leaders of the two countries after India formally invited General Musharraf for a dialogue on May 23 last, the Pakistani leader pointed out to the Indian Prime Minister that rhetorics had an impact on the political forces in both countries.

According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, the Prime Minister, while conveying that he was looking forward to welcoming General Musharraf to India, agreed with the sentiments of the Pakistani leader. The Prime Minister also conveyed that he was looking forward to having a substantive discussion with the Pakistani leader on the entire range of India-Pakistan bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

The two leaders agreed that there was nothing in scoring debating points through the media.

According to reports, the Prime Minister telephoned General Musharraf at about 10.45 am today and spoke to him for about five minutes.

On reports emanating from Pakistan that General Musharraf had referred to “certain statements emanating from India” in an obvious reference to the Prime Minister stating yesterday that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) would be discussed, the MEA spokesperson said there was reference to it during the conversation between the two leaders.

The exchange between Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf today assumes importance in view of the forthcoming summit between the two countries as reports point out that the stress during the three-day dialogue would on a one-to-one meeting rather than involving the bureaucrats.

The Prime Minister was quoted yesterday as saying that “one-third of Kashmir (PoK) which is with Pakistan will be discussed while the Indian Government’s stand on Kashmir remains unchanged”.

A report from Islamabad said Pakistan today regretted the reported statement of Mr Vajpayee terming Kashmir as an integral part of India, and hoped that New Delhi would refrain from such statements which could vitiate the atmosphere for the forthcoming summit.

Contesting Mr Vajpayee’s assertion that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, Pakistan described the state as “disputed territory” where people were waging a “struggle for their right to self-determination”.


Indian envoy attends swearing-in

New Delhi, June 20
As Gen Pervez Musharraf took over as Pakistan’s President, India said today that protocol befitting Heads of State would be extended to him during his three-day visit to India from July 14.

“General Musharraf will be visiting India as President when he arrives here,” an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said.

India’s acting High Commissioner in Islamabad, Mr Sudhir Vyas, attended the swearing-in ceremony of General Musharraf as President. High Commissioner Vijay Nambiar is currently here for consultations.

On General Musharraf assuming the new office, the spokesperson said: “We are continuously analysing and monitoring the situation closely.”

The Vajpayee-Musharraf talks are expected to be spread over two days on July 14 and 15 at Agra. General Musharraf is likely to visit Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan on July 16 before emplaning for Islamabad.

General Musharraf would be accorded a ceremonial reception given to Heads of State at Rashtrapati Bhavan before he leaves for Agra on July 14 for the main talks.

Sources said there would not be a strict sort of pattern for the dialogue. There would be talks without aides between the two leaders followed by delegation-level parleys. PTI

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