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Musharraf sets emergency deadline
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Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced on Thursday that he intended to lift the state of emergency on Dec. 16.


Addressing the nation through state TV channels and radio stations, Musharraf also said that the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) would be removed and the constitution would be restored on Dec. 16.


Musharraf on Nov. 3 proclaimed a state of emergency in the country and promulgated the PCO, suspending the constitution. Under the PCO, the then-Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and some other judges were sacked and some restrictions were put on local media.


Musharraf clarified that the emergency was imposed because the country was facing terrorist attacks which was badly affecting the economy.


He said the democratic process was moving ahead according to program and major success had been achieved against militants and terrorists.


"As a result of Nov. 3 decision of imposition of emergency the country's overall situation has improved," Musharraf said.


Musharraf said he was determined to lift emergency and withdraw PCO and fully restore the constitution of the country as a result of improvement in the situation.


The general elections would be held on Jan. 8 under the constitution in a fair, free and transparent manner, Musharraf said, "No one would be allowed to disturb the election process."


He urged political parties to participate wholeheartedly in the forthcoming general elections.


Musharraf said Pakistan was currently stable economically and the development in the country was actively moving at a fast pace. He said he had put the country back on track and fulfilled the promise of bringing democracy to Pakistan.


At a grand ceremony held in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Musharraf handed over the command of the army to General Asfhaq Pervaiz Kayani on Wednesday.


Musharraf would stand retired after he relinquished the post as army chief, a notification of the Ministry of Defense said.


Musharraf took oath as a civilian president at the Presidency here on Thursday, starting another 5-year term.


"I believe Pakistan will grow stronger with me as a civilian president and General Kayani as the chief of army staff," Musharraf said in an address on Thursday morning.


(Xinhua News Agency November 30, 2007)

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