Pervez Musharraf hands over command of the army
Pakistan papers have welcomed President Pervez Musharraf's relinquishing of the army command. Many focus on moves to full democracy, with differences of view as to whether Mr Musharraf has helped or hindered the process. Some focus on the new army chief of staff, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, and appeal to him to keep the military out of politics
This is an important day, full of the country's history of clashes and crises. We hope Mr Musharraf will feel on taking his oath the challenges and dangers that he and our resource-rich but politically unstable country are facing. The primary challenge is to return to constitutional rule from this extra-constitutional one, and for this free and fair elections are essential.
Security analyst Nasim Zehra in The News
The khaki president never fully appreciated or harnessed the power of the process, of constitutional democracy and above all rule of law... But it is different now as he dons his civvies. Pakistan, with a vibrant and independent media, is on an irreversible one-way journey towards constitutional democracy and the rule of law.
At last the moment came which the nation had been awaiting for too long. The nation breathed a sigh of relief with the shedding of the uniform. Now Benazir [Bhutto] and Nawaz Sharif [main opposition leaders] should try to heal the wounds of the tragedies faced by the nation in the past eight years. They should take the decision in the highest national interest.
Columnist Mahmud Sipra in The Daily Times
The country is less than 50 days away from holding a general election. You have shown immense courage, foresight and wisdom in allowing your two main detractors to return and freely pursue their own political agenda... If either of the two or their party wins then you are going to have the devil of a time deciding who you are going to work with. If they lose they are going to cry foul anyway. That Mr President is the penalty of leadership.
We believe the time has come for President Musharraf to retire from army with a heavy heart. He should respect the constitution and the oath he took in the army and leave power in a respectful manner. He knows it well enough that all the political forces are opposed to him.
We believe that instead of expressing reservations we should laud President Musharraf's resolve to take oath as a civilian president. We should make efforts to promote democratic culture in the country.
A nation that has often literally eaten grass to keep its armed forces well-fed and well-armed can only hope that the new full-time [army] chief lives up to his billing as a professional soldier who is not distracted by the razzle-dazzle of the world of politics.
The handing over of the military command by Gen Musharraf, which was long overdue, has been widely welcomed by the people. This provides Gen Kayani an opportunity to improve the image of the army by keeping it strictly out of politics... A genuinely elected government taking over as a result of fair and free elections can play a vital role in extracting the Army from the quagmire where it has been landed.
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