Musharraf sworn in as civilian president of Pakistan

Protests break out shortly after inaugural address, with lawyers clashing with police.

musharraf salute 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
musharraf salute 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Gen. Pervez Musharraf embarked on a new, five-year term as Pakistan's civilian president Thursday, a day after ceding the powerful post of army chief which was the basis of his rule for the past eight years. "Congratulations, Mr. President," Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar said after a solemn-looking Musharraf had sworn his oath. In his inaugural address, Musharraf welcomed as "good" for political reconciliation the return from exile of his old foes, former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. However, neither were present at the ceremony in the state palace in Islamabad, and it remained unclear whether the changeover would defuse the threat of a boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections. Such a move would undercut Musharraf's effort to legitimize his rule through a democratic ballot. "This is a milestone in the transition of Pakistan to the complete essence of democracy," Musharraf told an audience of government officials, foreign diplomats and military generals. "Elections will be held in January come whatever may." Shortly afterwards, violent clashes broke out in the eastern city of Lahore between police and lawyers, protesting Musharraf's rule. Demonstrators threw bricks, glasses and sticks at police who blocked the path of about 200 lawyers as they tried to march from one court complex to another, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. Some police officers picked up the missiles and threw them back at the lawyers, who were chanting slogans including "Go, Musharraf, go!" and "Friends of Musharraf are traitors!"