Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Wednesday that his heart would continue to beat with the army as it had been his family since he joined it at the age of 18 for 46 years.
Musharraf made the remarks when addressing a "change of command" ceremony at which he handed over the command of the army to Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Musharraf said the army was his life and passion and he served it with honor and dignity. He said the army also showed him love and affection and he was saddened that he was saying good-bye to it, the News Network International (NNI) news agency reported.
"The army has always risen to the occasion in difficult times, natural calamity like earthquake, floods and internal and external security threats to the country," General Musharraf said.
He noted Army's role in the development of country's infrastructure and said that it would continue to achieve this task in future as well.
Musharraf said he was leaving the army in a best state of preparedness and state of the art weapon systems. The army was fully capable of meeting any internal or external challenge and safeguarding the country's integrity and solidarity.
"I am handing over the command to General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani,who is the most professional soldier," Musharraf said, adding "I am confident that the new Chief will take the army to new heights in professional terms."
Musharraf started his military career in 1961 at the age of 18. He was appointed Chief of Army Staff in 1998.
Musharraf won the presidential polls on Oct. 6 with a clear majority. He is scheduled to take oath as civilian president for the next 5-year term on Thursday.