Pak Govt mulls over delaying general polls by a year

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Islamabad, Oct 31: Close on the heels of the attacks in Swat and Rawalpindi, the Musharraf regime is considering to delay the forthcoming general elections by a year, a media report has claimed.

According to sources, the deteriorating law and order situation in the country could force the Pakistan Government to delay the general elections.
On Oct 30, at least eight people were killed and 22 others were injured in a suicide attack in Rawalpinidi and Swat region of Waziristan Province is also witnessing sporadic violence for the last a few days.

The government is seriously looking into a proposal to form a national government for one year before holding the elections, said sources, adding, all the major political parties will be the part of it including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The Musharraf regime has also taken the Bush administration into confidence for delaying the elections, media reported.

The US Government that was earlier opposed to any idea of delay in the general elections, but it is now supporting the Islamabad"s view on it, sources claimed. Sources claimed that President General Pervez Musharraf is now ready for parleys with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Recently Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had also announced that the government was ready to take PML (N) on board. Sources in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) have also disclosed that Aziz"s statement was the part of an overall change of heart towards the Sharifs.

Meanwhile, Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that the general elections could be jeopardised if the security situation did not improve.

Keeping in view the deteriorating law and order scenario in the country, it would be difficult for the political parties to run any election campaign, Ahmed said. He also indicated that the interim government would be set up 72 hours before the national and provincial assemblies are dissolved.

The general elections are scheduled to be held in middle of January next year. From November 15, the caretaker governments will be formed at national and provincial levels that would oversee these elections.

The intelligence agencies have already apprised Musharraf that extremists are planning to sabotage the general elections through suicide bombings and other violent attacks, sources told the mediapersons.

The intelligence reports have also suggested a postponement of the polls. It has also described Balochistan and NWFP as highly vulnerable especially with regard to militants" attacks on the public meetings.

However, the sources claimed that Musharraf perhaps did not find it necessary to buy the advice part of the intelligence reports as the issue could not surface in the high-profile meeting he chaired on law and order yesterday.

Musharraf, however, has directed the provincial governments, especially, governors to accelerate anti-terror and anti-extremism activities not only through the use of force, but also through dialogue with the disturbed segments of the society.


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