Musharraf plans for Pakistan election by 9 January

Musharraf plans for Pakistan election by 9 January

Islamabad: Pakistan’s National Assembly and provincial assemblies will be dissolved in the coming days in order that a general election can take place before 9 January , President Pervez Musharraf said on Sunday.

Musharraf, the army chief who took power following a bloodless military coup eight years ago, had come under mounting pressure from rivals and his Western allies to put Pakistan back on a path toward elections after declaring emergency rule and suspending the constitution a week ago.

He has already sacked most judges, locked up lawyers, rounded up most of the political opposition and rights activist, justifying his draconian steps by saying the judiciary was hampering the battle against militants and extremism.

The general said he would quit the army and be sworn in as a civilian president once the Supreme Court struck down challenges against his re-election on 6 October.

“I hope that happens as soon as possible," Musharraf said in a news conference from his army camp office in Rawalpindi, broadcast on state-television.

Diplomats say Musharraf’s main objective in imposing the emergency was to stop the court ruling his re-election invalid, upholding rivals’ protests that was ineligible to contest while still army chief.

Musharraf said caretaker governments will be established as soon as the National Assembly is dissolved on 15 November and the provincial assemblies on 20 November, he said.

“This is history, ladies and gentlemen, because this is the first time all the assemblies will have completed their terms," Musharraf said.

The US and other Western nations have called on Musharraf to quit the army, hold elections, roll back emergency rule, restore the constitution, and free all detainees.

Musharraf did not say when he intended to end emergency rule, and said it reinforced efforts to fight terrorism, a spate of suicide attacks and the militancy in North West Frontier Province.

(Reporting by Zeeshan Haider; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Alex Richardson) Reuters