Pervez MusharrafFormer President Pervez Musharraf, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has vacated the presidential home of Aiwan-e-Sadr after stepping down from the office of President. On Monday Fahmida Mirza, Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, signed and accepted the resignation of President Musharraf.

Pakistan's President Musharraf resigns; new elections to be held
For 44 years I have safeguarded the country and will continue to do so.
Pakistan's President Musharraf resigns; new elections to be held

—Pervez Musharraf

He was accorded a guard of honour before leaving the President’s House. President Musharraf resigned after remaining in power for nine years.

He had been facing impeachment on charges of violating the constitution and gross misconduct. The movement to impeach Pervez Musharraf was an August 2008 attempt by the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Pakistan Muslim League, Awami National Party, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam to force Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf out of office.

Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation at 13:00 Local time (07:00 UTC) in a televised address to avoid impeachment. In it, Pervez Musharraf explained in Urdu language his reasons for resigning.

“If I was doing this just for myself, I might have chosen a different course,” Musharraf said, early in the speech. “But I put Pakistan first, as always,” he continued. “Whether I win or lose the impeachment, the dignity of the nation would be damaged, the office of the president harmed.”

Just three days ago, the chief spokesperson for Pervez Musharraf denied reports that came out 14 August, 2008 indicating that the president would step down within days.

Before departing, President Pervez Musharraf met with many important figures including General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff, and Air Marshal Tanvir Mehmoodand, Chief of Air Staff. President Musharraf says he has no plans to leave the country and will remain with his family in Islamabad.

Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan, Muhammad Mian Soomro, took over as Acting President of Pakistan after the departure of President Pervez Musharraf’s.

The Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan, Kanwar Dilshad, announced on August 22, 2008 that the presidential election will be held on September 06, 2008. The Central Executive Committee of Pakistan People’s Party has nominated the Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari for the post of president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Source : wikinews Chaindrawa, a former minister of Georgian President Mikheil Saakasvili’s goverment, who was in charge of dealing with the conflicts with Abchasia and Ossetia until 2006, accuses Saakashvili of undemocratic behaviour and war mongering.

In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Georgij Chaindrawa accuses the United States administration of creating a pro-American Georgian government under Saakashvili.

According to Chaindrawa, Saakashvili’s government bears little resemblance to a democracy. Rather, Chaindrawa claims that the government of Georgia is a totalitarian regime that suppresses civil liberties and the freedom of the press, somewhat similar to the Russian government policies of Vladimir Putin. Chaindrawa states that Saakashvili tried to close down an independent TV station (Imelda TV), declared a state of emergency in 2007 against mass protests of the opposition, and committed election fraud. Chaindrawa also asserts the politics of Saakashvili’s government as a cause of the current war with Russia. He says: “He wanted a victory parade in Zchinwali and got Russian troops marching toward Tbilisi”.

When asked, why he was dismissed from the government in 2006, Chaindrawa stated that he tried to avoid military adventures in the conflict with South Ossetia and that he was highly critical of Saakashvili’s failed 2004 attempt to conquer Zchinwali.

On the question, what the West should do, Chaindrawa replies, the West should support the Georgian population, its civil society and institutions rather than the Saakashvili government. He continues to say that Georgia needs politicians who are pursuing reconciliation and compromise rather than confrontation.

In an article in The Washington Times, Tsotne Bakuria, a former member of the Georgian parliament and now a senior fellow at Global International Strategic Group in the U.S., formulates a similarly harsh criticism of Shakasvili’s government. She calls its government a “reign of terror” and says that the country has no independent judiciary and that Saakashvili uses trumped up criminal charges (alleged money laundering) to silence and suppress members of the opposition. She describes, that the leader of the opposition Shalva Natelashvili was forced to ask NATO secretary Javier Solana for asylum for his wife and his 2 daughters after they’ve received death threats. Natelashvili himself was threatened by a government member with arrest and is facing money laundering charges, as are other members of the opposition.

Source : wikinews

Levy Mwanawasa

Levy Mwanawasa, the President of Zambia died yesterday at age 59. He died in a Paris hospital in France. His death was intially announced by an anonymous family member. It was later confirmed on television by vice president Rupiah Banda.

Mwanawase suffered a stroke while in Egypt in June of this year for an African Union summit, whereafter he was flown to France. His condition suddenly deteriorated on Monday.

“I also wish to inform the nation that national mourning starts today and will be for seven days,” said Banda.

United States President George W. Bush expressed condolences and referred to Mwanawasa as “a champion of democracy in his own country and throughout Africa.”

Mwanawase whose political career started in 1985 when he was appointed Solicitor General in the Zambian government. He was appointed Vice President of Zambia in 1991. He left office in 1994 announcing gross abuse of office and corruption as his reason. He retired in 1996 but later ran for president in 2001.

He won the 2001 presidential election beating ten other candidates. He sucessfully ran for a second term in 2006. He was one of the first African leaders to critisise Robert Mugabe.

He also criticised the West for its position on doing business with China. “You people in the West redeem yourself before you begin attacking China,” Mwanawasa said.

Mwanawasa suffered a mild stroke in 2006. On July 3, 2008 it was reported that Mwanawasa had died, these reports later turnt out to be false. He had been in the French hospital since early July. Rupiah Banda is now the current acting president of Zambia. A presidential by-election will have to be called within 90 days.

Source : wikinews 18 August President Musharraf abdicated his second seat also with wet eyes. Removal of his second skin was really painful for him but he had to ultimately vacate his chair of COAS with a heavy heart in November last under pressure exerted by lawyers movement. He had however hoped to retain president’s seat for the next five years on the basis of having won controversial presidential election on 6 October 2007, and then getting it validated through PCO Supreme Court and rubber stamp national assembly few days before the expiry of its five-year tenure. He had assured his King’s Party and the MQM that he would ensure their return to power in the next elections. His patron in Washington who had scripted the new game plan of power sharing with Benazir Bhutto had also lent him his full support.

His declaration of emergency on 3 November, sacking of 60 judges of superior court and removal of uniform failed to quell the tide generated by lawyers, civil society, and political parties. On the contrary demand for restoration of deposed judges kept mounting and his popularity graph continued to dip with every passing day.

Benazir Bhutto’s murder on 27 December, added to his woes and he as well as Choudhry brothers were seen with suspicious eyes. King’s Party was named as Qatal League by the PPP. He had placed all his hopes in the 18 February elections under the hope that he will be able to once again rig election results as he had done in 2002. However, the army under new chief Gen Kayani refused to play his game and got distanced from politics. As a consequence, polls results went heavily in favour of PPP and PML-N. PML-Q including some of its leading stars was demolished. Having failed in his plan to put his dream team in power, he then began to hatch conspiracies to sap the coalition of PPP-PML-N. He and his toadies had given a three-month life span to the ruling coalition. Somehow, the leading coalition partners continued to sail together despite Zardari’s ambivalence which caused frustration to the team of conspirators.

He turned a deaf ear to loud calls for his graceful exit and kept dreaming that the tide might change in his favour. His secret understanding with Zardari, levers of NRO and Article 58 (2) (b) he held, support of King’s Party and MQM and assurances by his foreign mentors and surging differences between Nawaz and Zardari on judges issue kept his hopes alive. Each time a deadline was given by Nawaz to restore judges and Zardari dithered, it bolstered the spirits of beleaguered Musharraf and his cronies but soon after their spirits deflated. Unhappy with Kayani, he tried to swap him over with CJSC, but Kayani pre-empted and quickly changed the 111 Brigade Commander.

With the coming in power of PPP led government, the people had hoped for a positive change. Contrary to their expectations life became more difficult because of flour shortage, load shedding, spiralling prices of daily commodities, gas, fuel and electricity. Apart from all economic indicators nose-diving, growing political instability because of PPP’s doublespeak and lack of sincerity and deteriorating internal and external security situation added to the frustration and disappointment of the people. The major issue of judges remained unresolved. Amidst the rising tide of despair, Zardari who had come into the limelight after Benazir Bhutto’s death and had in a short span of time earned admiration and respectability began to lose his sense of direction. More he dawdled on judges’ issue more unpopular he became. NRO became his Achilles heel which made him play tricks to buy time at the cost of his reputation and credibility. There were rumblings within the PPP itself which did not bode well for the future of the party. Both Musharraf and Zardari were termed as problems and not part of the solution. Zardari woke up from his slumber when Musharraf began to become assertive and his aides hinted of dissolving assemblies, or imposing governor rule in Sindh, or revocation of NRO. On 7 August he and Nawaz raised the flag of impeachment. Soon after, all the four federating assemblies passed resolutions asking Musharraf to seek vote of confidence or quit.

When the noose of impeachment began to tighten around his neck and the attitude of his chief patron and the army chief became lukewarm, he realised that he should save his skin before it is too late. While putting up a brave face, he started making concerted efforts to save himself from impeachment and trial, extract indemnification of all his crimes and a safe-exit. Till the last minute in his office, he and his confidants kept bluffing that he would not resign and that he would fight it out like a good commando. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada kept feeding him that he could not be impeached and he had strong legal grounds to disprove the charges framed against him. All this time, his foreign well-wishers pressed Zardari and Nawaz not to impeach him and allow him safe exit.

Having wriggled out of the stranglehold of impeachment and trial he tendered his resignation. While delivering his farewell speech in which he vainly tried to blow his own trumpets, he must have thought how quickly happy times had ended. On 12 October 1999, when Nawaz Sharif government was deposed by a team of adventurers led by Gen Musharraf, there were rejoicing on the streets and the opposition parties had distributed sweets. His period of glory faded away into oblivion and history repeated itself after a lapse of nine years. When Musharraf threw in his towel after digging his heels for six months, people rejoiced once again and distributed sweets and resorted to aerial firing and firecrackers to celebrate his departure. The nation never witnessed such wild jubilations on the ouster of a despot.

From among the four military dictators that had usurped power, only field Marshal Ayub Khan and Gen retired Pervez Musharraf had the pleasure of delivering farewell speeches to the nation. Former stayed in power for ten years; the latter ruled the roost for about nine years. While Ayub had said that he would not like to preside over the break up of Pakistan, which proved prophetic, Musharraf warned of dangerous times for Pakistan. Ayub handed over power to his C-in-C Gen Yahya Khan instead of the Speaker of the Assembly as provided for in the 1962 Constitution. But Musharraf followed the legal path and handed over the baton to Senate Chairman. Had Gen Tariq Majid been in COAS chair, his responses could have been different. There was no demand for trial of Ayub and he lived peacefully in his Islamabad house till his death. In case of Musharraf, except for his beneficiaries, the rest sought his impeachment and trial.

Gen Yahya Khan was forced to abdicate power by Lt Gen Gul Hasan and Air Marshal Rahim. Once he resigned and handed over power to ZA Bhutto on 20 December 1971, he was placed under house arrest. He was advised by Bhutto that it was in his interest to spend the rest of his life inside his house otherwise, he would not be able to save him from getting lynched by the emotionally charged people. He went through the trial conducted by Hamoodur Rehman Commission which was held in camera and the Commission held him responsible for the break up of country. The Supreme Court also declared his take over in March 1969 and declaration of martial law illegal. His wish for open trial so that he could prove himself not guilty of the charges levied against him was not ceded to by Bhutto. Musharraf on the other hand did not pickup courage to face the charges levied against him and prove his innocence in the court of law.

Nature took away Gen Ziaul Haq and his companions on 17 August 1988 in a mysterious C-130 crash, near Empress Bridge Bahawalpur. It is widely suspected that foreign agencies had a definite hand in the crash of safest aircraft in the world. But for the fatal air crash, he would have continued to remain in power for some more time since he faced no political threat. Still, he had the longest inning of eleven years. He was buried at a picturesque sight near Faisal mosque Islamabad and tens of thousands of his fans both from Pakistan and Afghanistan attended his funeral. They mourned his death and considered it a great loss for Muslim world. Musharraf wished for beating Zia’s record and would have broken it had he been allowed to complete his five-year tenure finishing in November 2012.

The army was demonised by our adversaries during Yahya and Musharraf tenures. The army was used by Yahya against the rebellious Bengalis led by Mujibur Rehman on 25 March 1971, to quell an Indian sponsored rebellion. Under a well orchestrated propaganda campaign the Indo-western-Jewish media painted the army as human eaters and rapists to defame it and facilitate Indian sinister plan to dismember Pakistan. Half of battle was won on the psychological plane before the military instrument was applied. Yahya had used the army to save Pakistan from splintering and had maintained an aggressive posture against Indian machinations. Once again the same band complemented by US media has brought the army in its firing line.

This time, Musharraf helped our adversaries in their evil designs by pushing the army into the cauldron of FATA at the behest of USA and making it fight against patriotic tribals who have a rich history of defending the western border against foreign threats. Gen Ziaul Haq had used them to keep the Afghan war beyond the Durand Line without any assistance from the army. While Zia too had made lot many enemies inside and outside the country, (RAW, KHAD, KGB, Al-Zulfiqar, PPP and later on CIA), Musharraf earned the undying enmity of Al-Qaeda and religious groups. He survived seven attempts on his life and he is still being hounded by them. Since Al-Qaeda has attained a long arm that can reach almost every where in the world, other countries are reluctant to provide him shelter. His wish for leading a quiet retired life in his mansion in Chak Shehzad may not get fulfilled because of security fears.

Other than Musharraf, no other military leader became the blue-eyed of USA, UK, Israel and India. These countries have traditionally pursued anti-Pakistan policies and have all along tried to exploit our leaders to harm Pakistan. The way Musharraf went out of the way to promote US agenda and to appease India was much beyond their expectations. Except for Musharraf no other leader had dared to get closer with Israel. But for judicial crisis, he was well on his way to restore diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. The four are the saddest on his departure and are looking forward to remain in touch with him once he settles down abroad. Having earned the repute of an American stooge and his insatiable greed to stick to power, he has faced more humiliation and disgrace than other three military rulers.

Having been left high and dry by even by his closest friends, Musharraf suffering from megalomania has been consigned to dustbin of history. His era has finally come to an abrupt end and once he leaves, there will be no farewells and no tears shed. Whatever days he spends in Pakistan would be fraught with tension and danger. The lawyers and deposed judges in particular as well as all those who have suffered a great deal at his hands have breathed a sigh of relief. The lawyers must be feeling happy that their one and half year struggle has ultimately been crowned with success and they are hoping that the brave and upright judges would be restored promptly and honoured. Nawaz must be brimming with joy for having avenged his humiliation. Now that the chief obstacle has been put aside, the political leadership will have no more excuses to lump failures in Musharraf’s kitty. It should quickly brace itself to the challenges confronting the nation.

Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig based in Rawalpindi and a defence and political analyst.

– Asian Tribune –

19 August 2008

In the age of the iPod, the digital phone and the satellite beam, how could a two-hour interview with President Rogge fit with 17 days of sports-filled television? From this reflection the “A Quote a Day” project was born, an educational programme run on and made available also to all TV rights-holding broadcasters for the duration of the Beijing Olympic Games.
Twenty educational vignettes
Twenty educational vignettes lasting around 45 seconds have been produced, each dealing with a specific topic. So far has aired the ones of President Rogge “on Rogge”, on Olympic history, the Olympic flag and the role of the IOC President. All the clips are truly educational, and should help the younger audience to better understand the Olympic Games and the values linked to them.
The “A quote a day” project has been produced for the IOC by the Australia-based Carnegie Enterprises, which is preparing an overall educational programme entitled “The Heart and How of the Olympic Movement”. This is the sporting component of the Analecta, their encompassing body of material about the “how” of achievement – from global leaders from diverse sectors, namely presidents and prime ministers, CEOs, creators and artists, architects and engineers and, of course, inspiring sports men and women
“Passionate about oceans”

President Rogge is used to interviews with questions linked to day-to-day topics. His interview with Georgina Carnegie was different, however, as the focus was put on the educational aspects of the Olympic Movement. “President Rogge is passionate about the ocean and our environment. He is deeply appalled by the increasing amounts of rubbish that are invading the clear blue seas he sailed on as a boy.  My other great moment was listening to the President describe the best and worst moments of his Olympic life – of the sailor unused to spectators in his sport entering the Olympic Stadium to the roar of a Mexican crowd, and his profound sadness when he received the news of the attack during the Munich Games”, Georgina Carnegie comments on the interview


Helene C. Stikkel.

Pervez Musharraf announced in a speech that was broadcast today on national television that he will resign from his position as President of Pakistan. He had been facing impeachment on charges of violating the constitution and gross misconduct.

The hour-long speech started at 13:00 local time (07:00 UTC). In it, Musharraf explained in Urdu his reasons for resigning.

“If I was doing this just for myself, I might have chosen a different course,” he said, early in the speech. “But I put Pakistan first, as always,” he continued. “Whether I win or lose the impeachment, the dignity of the nation would be damaged, the office of the president harmed.”

The former President explained that, “even if I beat this impeachment, relations between the presidency and the government can never be fixed.” He said that he believes that “pillars of the state – parliament and the judiciary – would be harmed and, God forbid, the army might have been dragged in,” if he did not resign.

Despite his resignation, he remained adamant that the charges against him are incorrect. “Not a single charge can be proved against me,” he emphasized.

Just three days ago, the chief spokesperson for Musharraf denied reports that came out Thursday indicating that the president would step down within days.

Source : wikinews

Mikheil Saakashvili The Georgian President has struck a conciliatory tone towards Russia as Russian troops begin preparations to leave his country.

In a television address recorded for broadcast later on Monday, President Mikheil Saakashvili demanded Russia leave Georgian territory immediately, but also made a plea to mend fences.

“I appeal to you that after your armed forces leave Georgian territory, to start serious thinking and discussions about further negotiations, a further search for ways (to conduct) relations in order not to sow discord between our countries for good,” Mr Saakashvili said in the broadcast, which his press office made available in advance.

“Let’s not sow discord for future generations. I don’t appeal to your mercy but I appeal to your pragmatism and simple common sense. I think the time to make the right decisions has come.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared on Sunday that troops who stormed in after a failed Georgian attempt to retake the pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia would begin pulling out around midday.

The 10-day confrontation has reportedly killed about 200 Georgians and dealt a blow to the Georgian military. It has damaged the country’s economy, disrupted road and rail links and drawn Western criticism of Mr Saakashvili’s handling of the crisis.

Mr Saakashvili’s softer tones towards Moscow contrast strongly with tough rhetoric both sides have used until now.

Each side has accused the other of attempted genocide.

Russia says some 1,600 people were killed in the initial Georgian shelling of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali while Georgia accuses Russian and irregular forces of levelling Georgian villages around Tskhinvali.

Russia’s withdrawal is due to go ahead under a six-point ceasefire plan brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, acting on behalf of the European Union.

The Russians have not set a deadline for its completion but say it depends on stability in Georgia.

The conflict has rattled the West, which draws oil and gas through pipelines across Georgian territory from the Caspian region, a route favoured because it bypasses Russia.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Mr Medvedev to withdraw troops quickly.

“This time I hope he means it,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“The word of the Russian president needs to be upheld by his forces or people are going to begin to wonder if Russia can be trusted.”

Regional implications

Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer said hardliners in Moscow wanted the conflict to achieve Mr Saakashvili’s overthrow and the destruction of the Georgian army and would be disappointed with a lesser result.

Mr Felgengauer argued that the Georgian military, though it withdrew in the face of Russian advances, had escaped without serious casualties or materiel losses.

“For them (the hardliners), the strategic aim of the invasion was not achieved, so it was a defeat … This creates problems in Moscow.”

He said powerful businessmen were also dissatisfied by big losses incurred on financial markets following the invasion and the danger of Western sanctions denying them access to technology for urgently needed modernisation.

“They may not be against subduing the Georgians, but the question is, at what price?” he said.

Mr Felgengauer said Georgia could now reckon with increased US investment and support and a consequent strengthening of American influence and commitment in an area Moscow historically sees as its ‘backyard’.

The conflict began on August 7 when Georgia launched an attempt to retake South Ossetia, which broke with Tbilisi after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia struck back, pouring troops into South Ossetia and then occupying areas beyond the region, in the Georgian heartland.

The six-point peace plan sees their withdrawal from this ‘core Georgia’. International contacts are under way to decide on a peacekeeping force for South Ossetia itself, though, whatever Georgia’s objections, it is likely to contain many Russians. /Reuters