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Elections by Feb 15: Musharraf

November 09, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Nov 8: President Gen Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday that general elections would be held by February 15. After presiding over a meeting of the National Security Council at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, he told reporters that he was committed to holding elections and to the transition to full democratic civilian rule.

The tenures of national and provincial assemblies, he said, were ending on different dates and after discussing whether to hold elections to the legislatures simultaneously or on separate dates, it had been decided to hold them together on or before Feb 15 next year.

When asked about his uniform, the president said the Supreme Court had stopped official announcement of the results of the presidential election and the matter was still with the apex court.

“Whenever the court would allow for the notification of results that would be the time when I could take oath as president and remove the uniform.”

Responding to a question, he said that the third phase of transition to full democracy would be achieved with fair, free and transparent elections after which power would be transferred to the new civilian set-up.

Gen Musharraf denied that he had decided to hold elections because of internal and external pressures. “I am doing it because I am committed to democracy,” he added.

Earlier, he told the NSC that the promulgation of emergency and the Provisional Constitution Order was aimed against the elements who wanted to disrupt the transition to democratic civilian rule.

According to an official announcement, the meeting reviewed the measures taken by the government since the declaration of emergency.

The meeting was attended by the prime minister, Senate chairman, National Assembly speaker, chief ministers of Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and the director general of ISI.

The interior minister, the NWFP governor and Vice Chief of Army Staff attended the meeting on special invitation.

President Musharraf gave a detailed overview of factors which led to the imposition of emergency, as well as the programme to take the country forward to what he termed the ‘third phase’ of the transition to complete democracy.

He said that besides harmony in the entire government machinery, it was also important that all pillars of the state should work in unison for achieving the desired objective of cleansing the country of extremism and terrorism and making Pakistan a truly dynamic and progressive Islamic welfare state.

The president reiterated his commitment to the democratic process and said it was essential to take it forward, despite challenges being faced by the country and certain elements’ desire to derail the process.

He urged the federal and provincial governments to immediately put in place a mechanism to curb price hike and take strong action against hoarders and profiteers.

He said he had suggested an ordinance to strictly deal with hoarders and profiteers and to have an effective machinery to check prices.

Gen Musharraf said the prime minister had been asked to ensure that the Utility Stores Corporation reduced the prices of essential commodities.

The president also stressed the need for ensuring that prompt justice was delivered to the people. He said he had directed the ministry of interior and provincial governments to take necessary steps for improving the law and order and protecting the lives and property of the people.

The NSC later deliberated at length on the law and order situation and actions which were being taken in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Swat and elsewhere in the country to restore the writ of the state.

The meeting expressed complete support and understanding of the ‘compelling circumstances’ which had led to the imposition of emergency and issuance of the PCO.

It was of the view that at this critical juncture in the history of Pakistan when the country faced multiple challenges arising out of militancy, extremism and terrorism, there was need for complete unity and harmony among all state institutions.