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June 25 - July 01, 2001

Takeover in 'national interest' CE

The Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, assumed the office of President on Wednesday afternoon with a pledge that elections would be held in the country by Oct 2002 as directed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Talking to journalists after being administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice, Irshad Hasan Khan, at the Aiwan-i-Sadar, President Gen Pervez Musharraf said he had assumed the office of the president in the "supreme national interest."

The oath-taking ceremony was attended by cabinet members, provincial governors, corps commanders, services chiefs and the diplomatic community. An official announcement made earlier in the day said that Mr Rafiq Tarar had ceased to hold the office of the president with immediate effect. This followed the dissolution of the suspended parliament including the Senate, the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies. Two amendments have been made in the Provisional Constitutional Order to effect the removal of Rafiq Tarar and induction of Gen Musharraf as the president. A proclamation order was read out after the oath-taking ceremony of the President which said: "General Pervez Musharraf has entered upon the office of the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan under the President's Succession Order 2001.

Therefore, let it be known to all and sundry that General Pervez Musharraf took oath of office as President and assumed the office of the President of Pakistan." After the ceremony, Gen Musharraf told reporters that his decision to take over as the president was led by constitutional, political and economic considerations. He, however, made it clear that general elections would be held by October next year as was directed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

"I feel in all humility that if I have a role to play for this nation I will not hesitate whatever decisions are involved. I hold national interests supreme.

Govt to promote free-market economy: Usman

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Usman Aminuddin said on Wednesday, the government is committed to pursuing agenda of promoting a free market economy in oil and gas, as well as in other sectors of the economy.

"We have already removed many bottlenecks restricting inflow of foreign investment in Pakistan and others are being addressed through comprehensive business-related reform measures," he said in his keynote address at a conference "Pakistan's Oil and Gas Sector: Emerging Investment Opportunities".

The minister said, as a result of the investment policy reforms of December 2000, the entire services sector has been opened for FDI, adding, minimum foreign equity for non- manufacturing sector has been reduced from and technical fees for non-manufacturing enterprises have been relaxed, he said, adding, foreign investors are allowed to select any field of investment, barring a few industries.

Rs 91 billion state units liabilities

The federal government has taken over Rs91.44 billion liabilities of the public sector corporations that is equal to more than 3 per cent of the GDP. Disclosing this in his budget speech, Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said that during the current fiscal (2000-01) this expenditure was likely to be Rs92 billion.

The minister said that major public sector corporations incurred a loss of Rs33.7 billion in 2000-01. This leakage of precious and scarce resources would continue so long as these corporations remain in the public sector.

The minister expressed helplessness of the government to improve financial health of these corporations. "There is no other option available to us except to privatize these corporations which we are committed to undertake as soon as possible," said the minister.

Lifting of curbs may be delayed

The US does not endorse Gen Pervez Musharraf's takeover as president and called upon Islamabad to immediately restore democracy, sources in administration said on Thursday.

The US officials have also expressed apprehension that the development might delay moves to lift sanctions against Islamabad which were imposed after Gen Pervez took over in October 1999. Administration sources said Secretary of State Colin Powell felt "blindsided" and "angry" on Wednesday because Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar had one day earlier outlined Islamabad's plans to return to civilian rule.

Gwadar road link to cost $142m

The Gwadar deep-sea port would be provided a rail link from Dalbandin via Panjgur at a cost of $142 million. The gigantic project itself would be completed in two phases at a cost of $1.419 billion

This was stated by minister for communications and railways Lt-Gen (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi during a visit to the site, where Chinese communications minister Huang Zhendong also accompanied him.

Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Lu Shu Lin, federal secretary for communications Iftikhar Rashid, Chinese experts, and the senior's officers of the ministry gave a detailed briefing.

During his visit to Gwadar Port, Lt-Gen (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi said Pakistan-China friendship was time-tested and this relationship will further strengthen with the passage of time.

Chinese firms sign four contracts

The companies of visiting Chinese delegation on Saturday signed contracts and memorandum of understanding (MoU) with their Pakistani counterpart companies.

Chairman of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Tariq Ikram, Chinese Consul General in Karachi, Director General of Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Corporation of China Wang Schichun (head of the Chinese delegation) and Vice-Chairman of EPB Ejaz Ahmed Qureshi were also present on the occasion.