Monday, 5 November 2007

News:President Musharraf Promises To Hold Elections

Source: Reuters

The Pakistani government said on Monday it would hold a national election by mid-January, as it came under pressure from the United States for imposing emergency rule and detaining lawyers and opposition politicians.

U.S. President George W. Bush, who values Musharraf as an ally in his battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban, called for a quick return to civilian rule and the release of hundreds of detainees rounded up since Saturday.President Pervez Musharraf's decision to suspend the constitution and purge the Supreme Court has unleashed a torrent of international criticism.

Attorney General Malik Abdul Qayyum told Reuters "It has been decided there would be no delay in the election and by November 15, these assemblies (national and provincial) will be dissolved and elections will be held within the next 60 days."

Some Pakistanis believe Musharraf's main motive in declaring emergency rule was to pre-empt the Supreme Court's ruling on his re-election.But security has deteriorated since July, when commandos stormed Islamabad's Red Mosque to crush an armed Islamist movement. Since then nearly 800 people have been killed in militant-linked violence, half of them by suicide attacks,including the attack on Benazir Bhutto.

Qazi Hussein Ahmed, leader of the main Islamist opposition party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), was taken into custody on Monday. Authorities had already rounded up 600-700 JI supporters in southern and central provinces overnight.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Musharraf should quit the army and become a civilian leader, and hold the elections as scheduled.The United States put future aid to Pakistan under review, having provided $10 billion in the past five years, and postponed defence talks with Pakistan due this week.Britain also warned Pakistan on future funding.

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