Musharraf renews commitment to step down as Army Chief

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Islamabad, Sep 27 (UNI) Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has reaffirmed that he would step down as Army Chief after his re-election as President.

Speaking before a gathering of Ambassadors of different countries at an Iftar hosted by outgoing Inter Services Intelligence Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani here yesterday, Gen Musharraf asserted that he would keep the commitment given to the Supreme Court.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Chairman Senate Mohammadmian Soomro, Speaker of the National Assembly Amir Hussain, several ministers and state ministers, and the top brass of the three forces attended the feast.

President Musharraf candidly admitted that he could not keep his word on giving up uniform in 2004 due to ''compelling circumstances'', The News reported.

''There is a huge difference between 2004 and 2007. In 2004, there were compelling circumstances and no constitutional bar and, therefore, I had to continue with the two offices,'' explained the President who, according to some participants, was in an upbeat mood.

''However, the circumstances today are different and I have given a commitment to the Supreme Court that after my re-election, I will leave the office of the COAS and I shall abide by it,'' he said.

He assured that the general elections would be held in a free and fair manner.

''I am by temperament a democrat and believe in the norms of democracy with all of its decencies and freedoms. I am confident that democracy will flourish in the country and Pakistan has a bright future as it will continue to play an important role for stability in the region,'' he said.

UNI

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