Islamabad: President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday promised the “mother of all elections” when Pakistan goes to the polls next week, reiterating that the vote would be free, fair and transparent.
Musharraf also pledged there would be no further delays to Monday’s elections, which were postponed in early January after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto at a campaign rally.
“This is the mother of all elections,” Musharraf said at a special conference of government officials in Islamabad and shown live on state television.
“Despite all the insinuation and apprehensions, the elections will be free, fair, transparent and peaceful. It is my pledge to the nation,” added Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999.
“The derailed process of democracy is back on track and elections will be on 18 February. In the atmosphere of terrorism, no disruption and violence will be allowed.”
Pakistan’s “reputation is at stake and to an extent our future depends on this,” the former military general said.
Musharraf rejected accusations of rigging levelled by opponents.
“It is not possible to stop some sort of problems at the tactical level on the question of rigging, but we have taken all measures to make it rigging-free,” he added.
The former general also dismissed a series of recent opinion polls by foreign organisations that show his popularity nosediving.
“They are carrying out opinion polls through NGOs (non-governmental organisations) who abuse us,” he said.
In the most recent survey, a poll carried out by GlobeScan for the BBC Urdu Service released Thursday showed that 64% of people said stability would improve if Musharraf resigned.
Three-quarters of people said they would like him to resign, the survey showed.
Musharraf also had a low approval rating, only 15%, with 72% saying they disapproved of the job he was doing.