The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deadlocked Pak hints at re-elections

Islamabad, Nov. 10 (PTI): As the stalemate over government formation continued, President Pervez Musharraf has called for a joint meeting of the Cabinet and the National Security Council tomorrow to discuss options which include scaling down powers, imposing martial law or even holding re-elections.

Confirming the meeting, interior minister Moinuddin Haider told reporters in Karachi last night that the delay over government formation would be discussed and “crucial decisions” would be taken.

Haider, for the first time, also hinted that the government was considering the option of calling for another general election if no solution was found.

“If political parties do not arrive at a settlement before convening of the national Assembly session, then it would be unavoidable for the government to make another reference to the people,” he said.

Information minister Nisar Memon said tomorrow’s meeting might decide to convene the Assembly session on November 15. The session was initially scheduled for November 8 but was postponed later.

Pakistan’s political parties have failed to form a government even one month after the general elections which were held on October 10 and had given a hung verdict.

Haider’s comments on re-election followed the refusal of the anti-Musharraf coalition, comprising the 15-party Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and the religious alliance of six parties, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) to climb down on their demand that Musharraf step down and seek re-election.

“It is expected that the final decision regarding fresh elections or the formation of a government would be taken at the meeting,” the Dawn reported, quoting officials.

Several important decisions are likely to be taken at the meeting, including the transfer of power and fixing of a date for the first session of the national Assembly, it said. “If the deadlock is not broken within the next 24 hours, chances of new elections would increase. Similarly the possibilities of imposing martial law would also be looked into.”

On the possibility of re-election, sources in the MMA and ARD dismissed it as a threat by the government to pressurise the anti-Musharraf combine. However, it could be counter- productive as the PML(Q), a group of politicians bound under pressure from the establishment, could panic at the thought of re-election and desert the military ruler.

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