Musharraf says will lift Pakistan emergency on Dec 15

By: Levensloopregeling Lening Krediet  10/12/2007
Keywords: Education, Printing, Entertainment

WASHINGTON : Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said in a CNN interview broadcast on Sunday that he would lift his state of emergency on December 15 and guaranteed free and fair elections next month. Confirming remarks by Pakistan's attorney general that the emergency would be lifted a day earlier than previously planned, Musharraf said "the emergency will be finished on the 15th, I mean every word of it." "I give commitments which I always follow and honour," Musharraf said in the interview on CNN's "Late Edition," which was taped on Saturday. He also promised that the parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8 would be free. "Yes. I do guarantee that they will be free and fair. Absolutely," said the president, as an alliance of Pakistani opposition parties appeared divided on Sunday on whether to boycott the polls. Asked if former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif would be permitted to run as candidates, Musharraf said this was up to the Election Commission and the courts to decide. "That is the procedure. Where do I feature?" said Musharraf, who has placed Pakistan's chief justice under effective house arrest for refusing to endorse the emergency rule last month. "There is a legal process which will take place and let them follow it," he said. Commenting on remarks by Bhutto and Sharif that the election could be rigged to favour pro-Musharraf forces, the president: "These are comments as a preparation for defeat. "I think they should gracefully participate in the election and then gracefully accept defeat if any one of them gets defeated. We will congratulate anyone who does win. Let there be no crying like they are now doing." Musharraf, who shed his military uniform on November 28 to become a purely civilian president, also lashed out at US critics who accuse the Pakistani military and intelligence of sympathising with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. "I take very serious exception to it. We are suffering here," he said, observing that Pakistan's military had so far suffered about 1,000 casualties at the hands of the militants. "And as far as the intelligence is concerned, it is our intelligence which has got hold of each and every terrorist either killed or eliminated or arrested. There hasn't been even one arrest in Afghanistan." A July assessment by the US intelligence community said there was evidence to suggest top Al-Qaeda leaders such as Osama bin Laden were sheltering in Pakistan's northwest on the Afghan border. "Give me the proof," Musharraf said. "What proof do they have? Nil. It is just their guess. "We are trying our best to locate them," he said, while stressing that the mountainous terrain was "inhospitable... and I know that there are people who sympathise with them." The president had earlier pledged to lift the state of emergency on December 16, after imposing it on November 3 to tackle what he said was growing Islamic militancy and an interfering judiciary. - AFP/de

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