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New Pakistani Interim Government Taking Office as Parliament Dissolves Itself


The new Pakistani caretaker government headed by Senate chairman Mohammedmian Soomro takes office Friday, just hours after Pakistan's parliament dissolved itself at midnight local time Thursday following completion of its its five-year term.

Outgoing Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz addressed a final Cabinet meeting late Thursday. He said that no government has been more tolerant than his in hearing criticism.

President Pervez Musharraf, whose term also ended Thursday, earlier appointed Mr. Soomro as interim prime minister to guide the emergency-ruled country to elections. Mr. Soomro will be sworn in at a ceremony Friday morning.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that decisions General Musharraf makes in the coming weeks will determine how closely the United States will work with him.

Gates also said that a review of U.S. military aid to Pakistan concluded the aid does not have to be suspended immediately due to emergency rule.

General Musharraf has vowed to hold the elections by January ninth and to give up his post as military chief by December first.

But opposition leaders have dismissed that pledge, arguing that free and fair elections cannot be held under emergency rule.

Meanwhile, two of the four main Pakistani television networks, Aaj and Dawn, were back on the air after agreeing to abide by a new code of conduct that bars news coverage directly criticizing the government. The channels were blacked out when emergency rule began on November third.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.