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Asif in presidency, takes oath today

September 09, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Sept 8: President-elect Asif Ali Zardari moved to the Presidency on Monday and will take oath of his office on Tuesday.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar will administer the oath at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is likely to attend the ceremony.

Mr Zardari was greeted by staff of the Presidency and his close aides when he arrived there with daughters Bakhtawar and Asifa. Insiders said that portraits of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto had been placed at the main porch of the building, while pictures of the two deceased leaders, PPP Chairman Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto and Mr Zardari adorned the Pink Room (where the president holds one-to-one meeting with guests) and Rotunda Hall.

Since renovation work on the main residential building is in progress, Mr Zardari’s daughters will stay in the guest rooms on the seventh floor.

A Quran Khawani was also held on Monday.

After the oath, Mr Zardari will be presented a guard of honour by a contingent of the armed forces. He will address a press conference later in the evening.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, members of the federal cabinet, Senate chairman, Chief Justice of Pakistan, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and chiefs of the three services will also call on Mr Zardari.

Meanwhile, Mr Zardari has ordered government departments not to issue advertisements congratulating him on his election, adds APP.

In a statement issued on Monday, Mr Zardari said: “We are a poor country and cannot afford such extravagance at the expense of taxpayers’ money.

“The world is watching us and the government is facing many internal and external challenges. The government and the people of Pakistan have to prove that they have the will to bring about positive changes in the country’s social and economic structures.”

Criticising dictatorship, he said it had hurt Pakistan’s image abroad. Regaining the lost respect, he said, was “a gruelling task … together we will achieve this goal.”

President Zardari stressed the need for austerity to put the nation on the path to progress.

Asif phones Altaf: The president-elect on Monday telephoned MQM chief Altaf Hussain in London and thanked him for proposing his name for the presidential election.

Mr Zardari lauded the MQM leader for his role in Pakistan’s solidarity and security as well as for the promotion of democracy in the country.

Mr Hussain felicitated the president-elect on his thumping victory in the presidential election and prayed for his success.