Poll decision before Nov 15: Musharraf

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Islamabad, Nov 8: Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has said decisions about the term of the National Assembly and the general elections would be taken before November 15.

In his first interaction with parliamentarians belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League and allied parties since the promulgation of the state of emergency on November 3, the president said the emergency would be lifted as soon as possible.

Dawn newspaper quoted him as saying here that it would not be before a decision by the Supreme Court on petitions challenging his eligibility to contest the presidential election which might take two to six months.

During the meeting which lasted more than two hours, the participants were divided on the issue of setting dates for lifting the emergency and holding the general elections or extending the tenure of the National Assembly.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who had been lobbying some time for support for his desire for an extension in the tenure of the assembly, failed to win the backing of majority. The camp of PML president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had succeeded in convincing the president against postponing the elections, except for a few weeks, if necessary.

It was the first time that the president had allowed more than two dozen legislators to frankly express their views.

Gen Musharraf cited superior judiciary's activism and the breakdown of law and order in tribal areas and Swat as reasons for declaring the state of emergency.

He said the leaders of some friendly countries had advised him against imposing emergency, but he took the decision in the national interest.

He added that had he paid heed to the messages from Washington, he would not have been able to impose emergency or issue the Provisional Constitution Order(PCO).

Gen Musharraf asked the PML and coalition partners to remain united and prepare for elections.

Earlier, the federal cabinet held an informal meeting in which the difficulties the PML had been facing since the imposition of emergency were discussed.

The meeting decided that there was no need to seek indemnity for the PCO from parliament as it required a two-third majority.


UNI

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