News

Musharraf Praises 'New Era of Democracy' for Pakistan

Pakistan's president says his country, is ushering in a new era of democracy following years of his autocratic rule. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Islamabad that Pervez Musharraf, in his Pakistan Day address, also credited his regime with paving the way for the return to civilian government.

Members of the armed forces - from the mechanized infantry to nurses - paraded past President Pervez Musharraf and other dignitaries, while fighter jets screeched by overhead, as the country celebrated Pakistan Day.

The unpopular president, who came to power in a 1999 military coup, appeared in civilian clothing after yielding to pressure last November to give up the powerful post as Army chief.

In his address at the national stadium in the capital Sunday, Mr. Musharraf hailed a "new real era of democracy" for Pakistan.

While making reference to the incoming civilian government resulting from democratic elections he permitted this year, the president also defended his nine years of strong-armed rule as a journey "toward democracy and development."

It is uncertain whether this president will ever again preside over such a ceremony. The caretaker government he appointed is in its last hours. Mr. Musharraf will swear-in a democratically-elected prime minister on Tuesday replacing the figurehead he had appointed.

The new prime minister is certain to be Yousuf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan People's Party, or PPP. Gilani on Sunday was asked by reporters whether he is certain to serve a full five-year term. He responded, "We are not here to count how many days we have remaining in the Assembly. People are not concerned whether we are here completing five years or not completing. They are only concerned whether we have delivered to the nation or not."

Pakistan has a history of military coups and of presidents dismissing prime ministers. Gilani already faces the perception that he will serve at the whim of party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Speculation is intense here that Zardari seeks to install himself as prime minister, perhaps within a matter of months.

The Pakistan Peoples Party has agreed to a coalition government with a long-time rival, the Muslim League faction of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. During the campaign both parties expressed opposition to the president's autocratic rule. Many members of the new coalition want Mr. Musharraf to exit quickly as head of state, either by resignation or through impeachment.

Another showdown is looming between legislators and the president. The PPP and Mr. Sharif's party have agreed to reinstate the top layer of the country's judiciary which Mr. Musharraf removed last year.

The embattled head of state on Sunday also called on the new government to maintain peace and socio-economic development. The president added that he hopes Pakistan's civilian leaders will continue the struggle with the same force that he has applied against terrorism and extremism.

Mr. Musharraf has been Washington's staunch ally in the U.S.-led international war against terrorism. It is unclear whether the democratically-elected government leaders will have the same stance or take a different approach to the security threats facing the country.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs