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  #21  
Old Thursday, November 22, 2007
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‘Court order on deposed CJ has lost its efficacy’




By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, Nov 21: Defending President Pervez Musharraf’s proclamation of the state of emergency, senior counsel Sharifuddin Pirzada argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the court’s short order restoring deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in July had lost its efficacy because the detailed verdict was not issued within three months.

The validation of Nov 3 emergency by Gen Musharraf was one of the pleadings of the counsel who advised the court to confer all powers to the army as it had done in the 2000 Zafar Ali Shah case.

Petitioner Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party and president’s counsel Sharifuddin Pirzada concluded their arguments on Wednesday. Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum was to start his arguments when the court time was over.

“We have the highest regard for the judiciary because we believe in its independence and hold the judges in highest esteem, but some orders were passed which render the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) ineffective,” Mr Pirzada said in an obvious reference to the July 20 short order of restoring Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The short order was passed, but despite the lapse of three months no detail reasons had been given for obliterating the SJC, he added.

“What will be its effect?” asked Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar who is heading a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court hearing identical petitions challenging the validity of emergency and the Provisional Constitution Order.

“It will lose its efficacy and, therefore, could not be termed as a judgment,” Mr Pirzada referred to his arguments in the Zafar Ali Shah before the then court and said that it had the judicial review, but the power should be exercised with great caution.

“Judicial review should be judicial and should not be used to intrude into the domain of other branches of the government,” he said.

He said that the current situation was similar to those of 1977 and 1999, adding that the 1977 martial law was validated by the apex court in the Nusrat Bhutto case on the grounds that the Constitution had not been abrogated, though held in abeyance.

In 1985, general elections were held under martial law on non-party basis, while the assemblies indemnified all actions under the Constitutional Eight Amendment and also introduced Article 58 (2b) to prevent martial laws in future.

The counsel said the Nawaz Sharif government had deleted this safety valve through the 13th Amendment and taken drastic actions leading to a very unpleasant situation. “Subsequently emergency was proclaimed which was also validated by the apex court in the Zafar Ali Shah case stating that the armed forces saved the country from disastrous situation.”

Referring to the current situation, he said that half a dozen attempts had been made on the army posts, adversely affecting the country’s defence capability. “The entire country was in the grip of terrorism and extremism,” he said, adding that the prime minister had written a letter to the president after great deliberations against the backdrop of this situation.

He elaborated that while emergency has been imposed once again, the Constitution had not been abrogated and courts were functioning. “The current intervention is for a very limited period so that the country could return to democratic process through elections to be held on January 8, 2008.”

When the court asked him that the army chief, instead of the president, had imposed emergency, Mr Pirzada recalled that only once in Pakistan’s history, martial law had been clamped by President Iskandar Mirza in 1956 by abrogating the Constitution, and though validated by the Supreme Court in the Dosso case, it was subsequently overruled in the Asma Jillani case by passing strictures. “That is why such actions are always taken by the army chief and not by the president,” he argued.

At the outset, the attorney-general conceded that the powers exercised by the army chief on Nov 3 was an extra-constitutional step for which nobody was happy, not even the president or the army chief, but said that in such circumstances, no remedy was available in the Constitution.

He said the Nov 3 emergency had been imposed keeping in view two principles -- ‘salus populi suprema lex’ (welfare of the people is the supreme law) and ‘salus republica suprema lex’ (welfare of the republic is the supreme law).

“Is Pakistan more important than democracy?” he asked and said that the circumstance was such that the existence of the state apparatus had been endangered.

“People were running state within state and 1,489 terrorist activities and bomb blasts occurred in the current year and scores of security personnel were killed,” he added.

The AG also criticised the pre-emergency judiciary and said that 500 to 600 suo motu notices had been taken. He said that only one suo motu case was decided by the Supreme Court in 1956 and former chief justice Afzal Zullah took up 40 such cases in 1975. “This was not a judicial activism but judicial ‘excessism’ (sic).”

He dispelled the impression that any proposal was under consideration to take away suo motu powers from the superior judiciary. He said that even the cabinet had been directed by the apex court to consider on a priority basis the human organ transplantation law, take up the road congestion problem in Karachi and fix prices of fruit and vegetables. “How is the function of the cabinet dictated by the apex court?” he asked.

Likewise, he said, the new Murree development and Islamabad chalets projects had been stopped.

“Although the intentions are laudable, this is not the job of the apex court but of the executive branch,” he said.

http://www.dawn.com/2007/11/22/top2.htm
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  #22  
Old Saturday, November 24, 2007
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Dozens killed in Pakistan blasts

Twin suicide car bombings have killed at least 30 people and injured many others in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi, officials have said.

One of the blasts hit a bus packed with members of the security forces.

Another explosion at a checkpoint left officers badly hurt, and there are fears the death toll will rise.

It came as former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif - ousted in 1999 by President Pervez Musharraf - said he would return to Pakistan from exile on Sunday.

Mr Sharif - leader of the Muslim League-N party - previously tried to return in September but was immediately deported back to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile Pakistan's Electoral Commission has confirmed Gen Musharraf's victory in last month's presidential election, ratifying a second five-year term.

The result was initially put on hold until a reconstituted Supreme Court verified Gen Musharraf's right to stand while remaining head of the armed forces.




Witnesses said the bus entered a compound housing Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), followed by a small car, which blew up seconds later.


"We saw a burning bus and people from the army trying to put the fire out. I don't think anybody inside the bus could have survived," Shoaib Abbasi, who was working at a nearby hotel, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

Soldiers and police quickly sealed the scene, and forced bystanders and journalists back.

Both vehicles were destroyed in the blast, which also damaged surrounding buildings.

An intelligence agent at the scene told the Associated Press news agency that the destroyed bus was a 72-seater, but that more people were on board.

About 19km (12 miles) away, a bomber in a car also attacked the checkpoint, army spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.


Reports from security sources said at least one officer died in the attack.

"Both were suicide attacks," Gen Arshad told local reporters.

Pakistan has recently seen a number of suicide bombings, including an attack in Karachi that killed at least 135 people.

This is the third recent strike on Rawalpindi, and the first since a state of emergency was imposed by Gen Musharraf.

Rawalpindi, near the capital, Islamabad, is the main headquarters of the army in Pakistan, and the place where Gen Musharraf has his military offices.



Political turmoil

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings.

But the BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says attacks are often suspected to have been carried out by pro-Taleban militants in revenge for military operations in the tribal areas near the Afghan border and in North-West Frontier Province.

The country is in the midst of political turmoil. Gen Musharraf has imposed emergency rule, which critics say will undermine general elections scheduled for January.

Gen Musharraf has promised to step down as the army chief and serve his new term as a civilian.


BBC
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  #23  
Old Sunday, November 25, 2007
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Exiled Pakistani PM 'to return'

Barbara Plett
BBC News, Lahore


Mr Sharif was deposed by President Musharraf in 1999
In a few hours former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to make another attempt to return to Pakistan.(Css ki tarah....Nikal jaye ga iss bar)

Mr Sharif tried to return in September but was immediately deported by President Pervez Musharraf, who overthrew him eight years ago.

Now the country is under emergency rule imposed by the general.

Hundreds of policemen are deployed at the airport in Lahore, where Mr Sharif is expected to land, but the atmosphere is not as tense as it was in September.

Then the former prime minister was greeted by a massive security clampdown and immediately sent back to exile in Saudi Arabia.

Observers do not expect him to be expelled again, largely because the Saudis have intervened.

They have told President Musharraf that Mr Sharif deserves a chance to fight forthcoming elections because the other former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, has now returned from exile.


Mr Sharif remains opposed to General Musharraf, but he no longer poses a direct threat because the military leader has recently secured another presidential term by declaring a state of emergency.
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Old Monday, November 26, 2007
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Musharraf to quit army 'in days'





President Pervez Musharraf will stand down as head of the Pakistani army on Wednesday, his spokesman Rashid Qureshi has told the BBC.


The spokesman told the BBC Gen Musharraf would then be sworn in for another term as president on Thursday.

President Musharraf has been under intense international and domestic pressure to give up his military role.

He seized power in a coup in 1999, deposing the civilian government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Gen Musharraf's main international backer, the United States, has grown concerned in recent months at the army's inability to rein in pro-Taleban militants and by Gen Musharraf's growing unpopularity.

It had been backing talks between President Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who heads the country's largest political party, for a power-sharing deal.

But in recent days Ms Bhutto has said that she could not work with Gen Musharraf.


Supreme commander

Pervez Musharraf "will take over as the president of Pakistan as a civilian" on Thursday, spokesman Gen Qureshi told BBC World TV.

Nawaz Sharif returned from exile on Sunday

He said President Musharraf would hand over his post of army chief to his deputy - Lt Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani - in a ceremony on Wednesday.

Asked if President Musharraf was severing all his professional links with the military, Gen Qureshi pointed out that he would remain supreme commander of the armed forces, as was the case with heads of state in other countries.


Gen Musharraf designated Gen Kiani, a former head of the intelligence services, as his successor as army head in October.


As a civilian president, Mr Musharraf would still have considerable powers, including the power to sack a civilian government.

Boycott option

The man he toppled in the coup, Nawaz Sharif, returned to Pakistan after years of exile on Sunday.

Mr Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have each served two terms as prime minister. Under current law that would bar them from being prime minister for a third term.

Both leaders have now filed nomination papers to contest parliamentary elections due in January.

But both are holding onto the option of boycotting the options if they deem that they will not be free and fair.


Gen Musharraf imposed emergency rule on 3 November in order, he said, to rein in the judiciary and deal with a growing threat from Islamist militants.

Thousands of political opponents were arrested, TV and radio news was banned and judges seen to be a threat to the government were sacked.


BBC
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Old Wednesday, November 28, 2007
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Nato bomb 'kills Afghan workers'


A bomb dropped by a Nato plane has killed 12 men working on a road in Afghanistan's north-east, a provincial governor says.

The strike took place in Nuristan province, 180km (112 miles) north-east of the capital, Kabul, said Nuristan governor Tamimi Nuristani.

So far there has been no confirmation or denial by the international forces operating in the country.

Last week Nato said it had changed tactics to lessen civilian casualties.

Our correspondent in Kabul, David Loyn, says the governor of Nuristan told the BBC the incident had taken place on Tuesday.

The mountains of Nuristan are among the highest and most inaccessible in the country, providing smuggling routes across to north-west Pakistan for drugs going out and arms and men coming in, our correspondent adds.

The Taleban have been able to operate there freely in recent years, although there has been heavy fighting during 2007 as US-led forces try to reassert control.


'Tent hit'


Mr Nuristani told AFP news agency: "We had reports that rebels were there.

Nato head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Nato had changed its tactics

"There was an air strike by coalition forces but later we found out that 12 people, all local road workers, were killed.

"The road workers were in a tent which was hit by one bomb. All died," he said.

The governor said the workers were from an Afghan construction firm.

Last week, Nato head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer had said the organisation was doing all it could to avoid Afghan civilian casualties.

After a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he said that Nato forces had changed their procedure to reduce the threat to civilians.

Mr Karzai has become more outspoken on the issue under increasing grassroots pressure.

The UN too has expressed alarm at the number of civilians killed by international forces in Afghanistan.
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Old Thursday, November 29, 2007
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Pakistan police clash with protesting lawyers

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Violent clashes broke out Thursday in the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore between police and lawyers protesting against the rule of President Pervez Musharraf.
Demonstrators threw bricks, glasses and sticks at police who blocked the path of about 400 lawyers as they tried to march from one court complex to another, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Some police officers picked up the missiles and threw them back at the lawyers, and used batons to beat several demonstrators who clambered over a gate onto the road.

Four lawyers and three policemen were injured, said Zahid Abbas, a police official, who was bleeding from a wound to his hand caused by a flying stone. At least two lawyers were detained.

Riot police wearing helmets and carrying shields eventually retreated far enough to let the protesters onto the street in front of the district court, but surrounded them on three sides.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Thursday | Police | Pakistan | Pervez Musharraf | Lahore | Demonstrators | President Musharraf
The lawyers chanted slogans including "Go, Musharraf, go!" and "Friends of Musharraf are traitors!" and tore down election posters for a prominent Musharraf ally.

Lawyers and judges have been at the forefront of protests against Musharraf because of his campaign against Pakistan's Supreme Court.

Musharraf purged the court after declaring a state of emergency on Nov. 3, just as it prepared to rule on the legality of his victory in an October presidential election.

The court, re-staffed with loyal justices, last week approved his re-election. Musharraf was sworn for a new five-year mandate Thursday, a day after retiring from his dual role as army chief.


http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2...protests_N.htm
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Old Friday, November 30, 2007
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Musharraf retires to full-time politics
• Gen Kayani gets the baton of command
• Civilian president takes oath today



By Ihtasham ul Haque


ISLAMABAD, Nov 28: Gen Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday handed over the command of the army to the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, fulfilling a promise many people had doubted he would keep.

He passed the baton of command to Gen Ashfaq Kayani at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ).

“Although I would not be in uniform tomorrow, my heart will continue to beat it as it has been my family since I joined it at the age of 18. It is a sad moment for me to bid farewell to the army after serving it for 46 years. This is life and every good thing has to come to an end,” a tearful Gen Musharraf told the army top brass and government leaders at the first-ever public ceremony organised here for the change of command.

Gen Musharraf paid tribute to Gen Kayani, the former chief of ISI, saying he had known him since he was a colonel.

He thanked the army for the confidence it reposed in him and the loyalty it showed to him.

On Thursday, Gen Musharraf will be sworn in as a civilian president. Chief Justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar will administer the oath at Aiwan-i-Sadr. In the evening, the president will address the nation on radio and television and is expected to announce the lifting of the state of emergency. The president said army was his life and passion and he served it with honour and dignity, adding that army had given him love and affection which he would never forget.

The entire area around the venue of the ceremony was blocked off with military and police personnel deployed in the area. Except for the invitees, no one was allowed to move into the area.

The president said he was handing over the command to Gen Kayani who was an excellent soldier. He said he was confident that the new chief would take the army to new heights in professional terms.

He prayed to Almighty Allah to guide the new army chief in commanding one of the most professional armies in the world and achieving new professional excellence.

Gen Musharraf said he was leaving the army in the best state of preparedness and armed with state of the art weapon systems.

Pakistan Army, he said, was one of the best professional forces in the world and hoped that it would continue to excel in future as well.

He commended the role of the army in overcoming external and internal threats to the country and maintaining peace and security.

The army, he said, had always risen to the occasion in difficult times, natural calamity like the recent earthquake, floods and internal and external security threats to the country.

He praised the role of the army in the development of the country’s infrastructure and said that it would continue to achieve this task in future. The president said it was unfortunate that some misguided elements pointed fingers at the army and criticised it.

He said the army had been stretched too much as it was performing its duties in Siachen and Kashmir and was deployed in Fata to fight terrorists and extremists, besides ensuring peace and security in Balochistan.

The change of command ceremony was attended by caretaker Prime Minister Muhammadmian Soomro, federal ministers, the three services chiefs, diplomats and senior serving and retired officers.

The ceremony included a parade by a contingent of the Pakistan Army.

The president reviewed a guard of honour and took salute. On his arrival at the parade ground, he was received by Gen Kayani.

CORPS COMMANDERS’ MEETING: Before the ceremony, Gen Musharraf presided over a meeting of corps commanders, his last as the army chief, and thanked them for their support during his tenure as the Chief of the Army Staff.

He praised the army for countering the threats of extremism and terrorism and for rendering great sacrifices for the country. He said the army was engaged in the national effort to defeat extremism and terrorism which were the biggest threats to the country.

“I salute all ranks of the army who sacrificed their lives for the country. The nation must acknowledge their sacrifices,” he said.Recounting his last nine years as the COAS, Gen Musharraf said the country had progressed well since 1999 and there had been a quantum leap in all fields from industry to agriculture and from infrastructural development to telecom sector.

He said he was leaving the office as a satisfied man.

“This is the highest decision making forum for the Pakistan Army and I always received valuable input from it,” the general said.

Praising Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for his professionalism and qualities of heart and mind, the president wished him success in his new appointment. At the end Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani presented a souvenir to President Musharraf.

Before departing the General Headquarters, the president shook hands with the General Officers who bid him farewell.




http://www.dawn.com/2007/11/29/top1.htm
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Old Friday, November 30, 2007
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Pakistan clash 'kills civilians'



A fire burns after Pakistani forces shelled a suspected militant position near
Pakistani forces have been battling the militants for weeks
At least 11 Pakistani civilians have been killed after troops shelled suspected militant positions in north-western Swat Valley, locals say.

They say troops fired indiscriminately at villages near the town of Mingora.

The army said it had no knowledge of civilian casualties but confirmed that artillery had been used.

The fighting in Swat is the first serious insurgent threat from pro-Taleban forces in what is known as a settled area of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb has struck a military convoy in the troubled north-western tribal area of North Waziristan, killing five soldiers.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said four soldiers were also wounded when the convoy was bombed about 30km (20 miles) from the region's main town, Miran Shah.

North Waziristan has been at the centre of fighting in recent months and the US says it is a safe haven for al-Qaeda.

The violence has been escalating since mid-July when a ceasefire between the army and militants broke down.


Radio off air

Hundreds of Pakistani ground troops have been fighting pro-Taleban insurgents in Swat, backed up by artillery and helicopter gunships.

Locals said the civilians, who included women and children, were killed in shelling late on Wednesday. They said houses were hit in the villages of Charbagh, Golibagh and Salanda.

After the bombing, more than 1,000 people held protests.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad told the BBC: "No rockets were used in the exchange of fire which took place last night. The troops were only responding to fire directed at them. We have no reports of any civilian casualities."

Earlier in the week troops said they had recaptured a strategic mountain peak in Kabal district of Swat Valley and consolidated other recent gains.

An FM radio station run by the local leader of the insurgency, Maulana Fazlullah, has gone off air.

The army has reported more than 200 deaths since the beginning of last week, most of them suspected militants.

But there has been no independent confirmation of those figures.

Forces loyal to Maulana Fazlullah, including some foreign fighters, have taken control of a series of small towns and villages, where they want to implement strict Islamic law.

Until now the army has focused mainly on the largely autonomous Waziristan tribal areas along the Afghan border.

It is an alarming sign for the Pakistani authorities of how the threat from insurgents linked to the Taleban is spreading into previously peaceful regions, BBC correspondents say.
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Old Friday, November 30, 2007
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US hails Pakistan leader's pledge

President Musharraf addresses nation
Mr Musharraf insisted January general elections would go ahead



The US has welcomed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's pledge to lift a state of emergency on 16 December.

President George W Bush said the move was "an essential step towards getting Pakistan on the road to democracy".

But Washington urged Pakistan's leader to go further and ensure free and fair parliamentary elections in January.

President Musharraf, who took power in a coup in 1999, was sworn in for a new term as a civilian head of state on Thursday after resigning as army chief.

The US, which regards Pakistan as a close ally in its war on terror, denied that Mr Musharraf had been pressurised into lifting the emergency or into giving up his military uniform.


Next move

In an address to the nation, Mr Musharraf urged all parties to take part in the elections.


Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif have come back, and a level playing field has been given
President Musharraf


He insisted that the general election would be held on schedule "come hell or high water" and that it would be open for monitoring by international observers.

He welcomed the return of his political rivals Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan, saying it would be "good for the political reconciliation".

Ms Bhutto said her opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) would take part in the 8 January poll to try to keep it free and fair.

But Mr Sharif said he and his allies would take no part in the elections unless judges sacked under emergency rule were reinstated and wanted other political parties to do the same.

The pair are now expected to hold talks to decide what to do next.

The two former prime ministers have already filed papers to contest the elections. They can formally withdraw their nominations by 15 December at the latest.

'Conspiracy'

For Thursday's ceremony and TV address, Pervez Musharraf wore a black traditional suit (sherwani) instead of a military uniform - which he had given up a day earlier.
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He was elected to a second term as president by the country's parliament and provincial assemblies in October. The legitimacy of the vote has been hotly contested.

Mr Musharraf told the nation he had declared emergency rule on 3 November because "the very existence of our nation was in danger".

"I was elected with 57% votes and there was a conspiracy to abort that," he said, in an apparent reference to the Supreme Court which was hearing legal challenges to his re-election.

One of President Musharraf's first moves under emergency rule was to sack the judges. A reshaped court later dismissed all the legal challenges he had faced.

'Continued struggle'


Mr Musharraf also said on Thursday that there had been an "explosion of terrorism", which emergency rule had helped deal with.





"I think now things have improved, the administration is now on the right track and terrorism has been brought under control," he said.

"Now, I'm fully determined that the emergency will be lifted on 16 December.

As he was being sworn in, about 200 lawyers opposed to his rule clashed violently with police in Lahore.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the civilian investiture does not mean an end to Mr Musharraf's difficulties.

The state of emergency has alienated much of the secular middle class, while an Islamist insurgency has also gained strength under his rule, she says.

If his opponents join forces against him, he could be in real trouble, our correspondent says. If not, he might be able to play them off against each other. Either way, the president will continue to struggle with the political crisis.

BBC
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Bhutto unveils manifesto pledges


Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has launched her party's manifesto for January's elections, focusing on domestic issues.

She said her Pakistan People's Party was taking part in the polls under protest and could still boycott them.

Another former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, is calling on all parties to join in a boycott.

President Musharraf has promised to end emergency rule on 16 December, six weeks after he imposed it.

On Wednesday he stepped down as head of the army.

Miss Bhutto told journalists in the capital Islamabad that the PPP's policies were based on what she called the five Es: employment, education, energy, environment and equality.




But she refused to firmly commit to taking part in the parliamentary and provincial assembly elections.

"We are taking part in elections under protest, we are not giving them any legitimacy. But if we do not participate we leave the field for others," she said.

She also outlined a number of concerns about the fairness of preparations for the elections.

On the issue of Nawaz Sharif's call for a boycott, she said that opposition parties would have to "agree to common goals, a common agenda, a common vision for transformation".


An "election boycott is not enough, we must also agree on what follows next... then we will certainly review our decision" to participate in the elections.

'Essential step'

The US has welcomed President Musharraf's pledge to lift a state of emergency on 16 December.


President George W Bush said the move was "an essential step towards getting Pakistan on the road to democracy".

But Washington urged Pakistan's leader to go further and ensure free and fair parliamentary elections in January.

President Musharraf, who took power in a coup in 1999, was sworn in for a new term as a civilian head of state on Thursday after resigning as army chief.

Mr Musharraf promised on Thursday that the general election would be held on schedule "come hell or high water".

Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif have filed papers to contest the elections. They can formally withdraw their nominations by 15 December at the latest.

Mr Musharraf was elected to a second term as president by the country's parliament and provincial assemblies in October. The legitimacy of the vote has been hotly contested.

One of President Musharraf's first moves under emergency rule was to sack the judges. A reshaped court later dismissed all the legal challenges he had faced.
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