Islamabad, Feb.14: President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday promised that the "mother of all elections" in Pakistan to be held on February 18, would be free, fair and transparent. Addressing a special conference of government officials here, Musharraf also pledged there would be no further delay.
"This is the mother of all elections. Despite all the insinuation and apprehensions, the elections will be free, fair, transparent and peaceful. It is my pledge to the nation," Musharraf said. "The derailed process of democracy is back on track and elections will be on February 18. In the atmosphere of terrorism, no disruption and violence will be allowed," he maintained. Pakistan's "reputation is at stake and to an extent our future depends on this," he said.
Musharraf also 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.
He 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.
Meanwhile, Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairperson of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has warned that he could call for protests if vote fraud denies his party victory in next week's elections.
Expressing confidence that the PPP would form the next government, Zardari was quoted by a foreign news agency as saying in lahore that the lack of impartiality shown by the Election Commission of Pakistan, suggested that the polls could be "pre-rigged".
"We will call for all the political forces to get together, and together we shall decide how to take the people to the streets, how to do political agitation -- enough to get our point of view across," he said in an interview.
Campaigning for Monday's parliamentary elections has so far been subdued, with warnings of further attacks on political gatherings.
"I am less concerned about myself. My major concern is about my supporters, because in every attack they have died in the hundreds," Zardari said.