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Pakistan enters 'era of real democracy'

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  • NEW: Musharraf speaks at a military parade celebrating Pakistan's national day
  • NEW: President says Pakistan is now embarking on "era of real democracy"
  • The former army chief attends ceremony as civilian, dressed in white sherwani
  • Pakistan's new parliament will elect new prime minister on Monday
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan has entered an "era of real democracy" according to President Pervez Musharraf , who said Sunday that he hoped the incoming government would maintain the pace of growth the nation has enjoyed.

President Pervez Musharraf, center, with military and naval officials during the Pakistan Day parade.

Musharraf made his comments a day after newly-elected lawmakers -- dominated by the opposition -- nominated a candidate to lead the coalition that has vowed to overturn the moves they say Musharraf took to hold on to power.

"My brothers and sisters," Musharraf said, addressing a crowd at a military ceremony celebrating Pakistan's national day, "you are seeing that a new era of real democracy has begun in Pakistan."

"I am hopeful that this government will maintain the political peace in Pakistan, and will maintain the fast pace of Pakistan's socio-economic development."

The national day commemorates March 23, 1940, when Muslims in what was then part of India adopted a resolution to establish a homeland of their own.

The country of 164 million came into being seven years later, when the British left the Indian sub-continent, partitioning it into India and Pakistan.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup but stepped down as army chief last November, attended the ceremony as a civilian. He was dressed in a white sherwani, a traditional South Asian coat-like garment.

Fighter jets spewed colored smoke as they formed the shape of a heart overhead. Flatbed trucks rolled past Musharraf's viewing stand carrying pieces of missiles that make up the country's nuclear arsenal.

On Saturday, the Pakistan People's Party -- one of two parties that won the majority of National Assembly seats in the parliamentary elections held last month -- named its candidate for prime minister. The other party is the Pakistan Muslim League-N.

The candidate, Yousaf Raza Gilani, was parliament speaker in the administration of former PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, who was slain during a campaign rally last year. Video Watch what's known about Gilani »

Musharraf is expected to offer his own candidate, but there is virtually no chance that his nominee would be selected because the opposition parties have a two-thirds ruling majority.

The coalition said it would reinstate ousted Supreme Court justices within 30 days of parliament's first session.

But it is unclear whether the opposition coalition could actually get its measures through both houses of parliament. Despite opposition gains in parliamentary elections last month, a coalition led by Musharraf's party still retains a considerable number of seats in the Senate.

The former justices are at the heart of the political crisis that began last year.

Musharraf removed nearly all of the Supreme Court bench in November, days before the justices were set to rule on the legitimacy of his third term in office. He had been re-elected president just a month earlier by a parliament that critics contend was stacked with his supporters.


Musharraf imposed a state of emergency and suspended constitutional rule on November 3, 2007. He also amended the constitution soon afterward to provide himself and the military blanket immunity for actions taken during the emergency rule.

The opposition coalition has also vowed to uphold the Charter for Democracy, a document that would restore the powers of the prime minister. Many of those powers were stripped away when Musharraf seized power , including the power to dissolve parliament and appoint military chiefs. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About PakistanPakistan Peoples PartyPervez Musharraf

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