RAWALPINDI: President Ayub Khan announced in the National Assembly the lifting of Martial Law at 8.40am yesterday, amid loud cheers from all sides of the House. Declaring that the normal law of the land will henceforth prevail, the President made an impassioned appeal to the members to give an “honest trial” to the Constitution which “represents my political philosophy in its application to the prevailing conditions of Pakistan”.

President Ayub told the National Assembly: “The lifting of Martial Law is as momentous an occasion as that when it was imposed.” He said that the members of Parliament were “on trial not just before your own country, but also before the whole world”.

The National Assembly — the nation’s third Parliament in its 15 formative years — began its first session here yesterday, marking the end of Martial Law and the launching of the new Constitutional system in the country.

The proceedings at the tastefully renovated Ayub Hall yesterday were brief, but historic, as the members, including six women, took their oath of memberships bearing allegiance to the Constitution, law and rules of the Assembly and integrity and solidarity of Pakistan.

Chief Election Commissioner Akhtar Husain, acting as Speaker, administered the oath to groups of members in English, Urdu and Bengali. The Assembly adjourned at around 10am to reassemble on June 11 to elect the Speaker and two deputies, one from each Wing.

The visitors’ gallery was packed to capacity. In the diplomats’ gallery sat ambassadors and diplomats from the five continents, most of them wearing immaculate Western dress, but the Saudis in the Arab ‘jussa’ and ‘amama’. The Iraqi Ambassador wore his country’s national headgear, resembling the Pakistani Jinnah cap. — Staff Correspondent and Agencies

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