Pak PM defends election, sees court ruling soon

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Washington, Oct 15: Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz today defended his country's October 6 elections and said he expected the Supreme Court to uphold President Pervez Musharraf's re-election.

''President Musharraf secured 57 per cent of the vote, and whether the opposition had participated or not, we had a comfortable majority in the electoral college, which is all the parliaments in Pakistan,'' Aziz told CNN's ''Late Edition.'' Aziz reiterated Musharraf's intention to resign as army chief before he takes his oath of office.

Aziz said the government's lawyers were confident the court would uphold Musharraf's election when it meets to review the matter on Wednesday.

''I cannot comment or speak for the Supreme Court. But I can speak for our lawyers who are representing us. And they are very confident that our case is strong and this will go in the favor of the president,'' Aziz said.

He rejected reports that divisions over the election were distracting the government's efforts to deal with al Qaeda and Taliban militants along the country's border with Afghanistan.

''That is absolutely untrue,'' Aziz said. ''The security paraphernalia, the security apparatus of Pakistan has nothing to do with the re-election of the president.'' Aziz said Pakistan had 100,000 troops along the border and was using all its expertise to secure the border.

''We are not looking the other way. We have not taken our eye off the ball. In fact, the intensity of engagement by the opposing parties has increased because we are taking them on,'' he said.

He said Pakistan was also encouraging the Afghan government to increase patrols on its side of the border.

Pakistani troops killed two pro-Taliban militants, including an Uzbek, today after they fired at a paramilitary checkpoint near the Afghan border.

Violence has escalated in Pakistan's volatile northwest since July, when militants scrapped a peace deal and army commandos raided a radical mosque in the capital, Islamabad.

Pro-Taliban militants in neighboring South Waziristan have held more than 225 Pakistani troops captive since late August.


Reuters>

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