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Pak National Assembly makes history by completing term

March 17, 2013 18:58 IST

Breaking a jinx, Pakistani politics has achieved a major milestone with the National Assembly completing its full term for the first time, even as the country's leadership continue to be divided on the issue of choosing a caretaker premier to oversee polls.

The National Assembly or lower house of parliament completed its constitutional five-year term on Saturday and the cabinet of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf stood dissolved at midnight, marking the first time an elected set-up has not been removed by the military or other political forces.

In his farewell address to the nation over Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television network last night, Ashraf thanked all democratic forces and institutions that played their role in strengthening democracy.

Ashraf, who became prime minister in June last year after Yousuf Raza Gilani was disqualified over contempt of court charges, pointed out that going by the fact that the current government remained a victim of negative propaganda and concocted allegations, completion of term by his government is an extraordinary and historic event.

Ashraf said the completion of the full term by his government marked the end of a "sinister chapter" of ambushes on democracy.

"We have strengthened the foundations of democracy to such an extent that no one will be able to harm it in future," he said during the televised speech last night.

None of Pakistan's previous 12 National Assemblies survived a full term.

The Pakistani media hailed the development as a turnaround in the tumultuous politics of a country that has witnessed several military coups and interventions by the President.

The headline in The Express Tribune read "One giant leap for democracy" while the Daily Times described the achievement as "Democracy wins a round".

"In the end, it was the 13th National Assembly that broke the jinx of interrupted governments," The Express Tribune said in its front-page report.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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