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Pervez baulks at brink
- No emergency, says President

Islamabad, Aug. 9: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today decided not to declare a state of emergency in Pakistan after marathon meetings with his legal aides and top government and military officials.

Private television channels and newspapers had reported last night that Musharraf was poised to take a step that would probably delay elections due by the turn of the year and could result in restrictions on the rights of assembly and place curbs on the media.

The uncertainty led the Karachi stock index to fall by 616 points. However, it recovered after Musharraf decided not to impose emergency and finally closed with an overall decline of 382 points.

“The President opposed the idea of imposing emergency in the country during meetings with close aides that began last evening and continued till this afternoon,” sources told The Telegraph.

Musharraf said he did not want to go back on a commitment he had made to the people of Pakistan for free and fair parliamentary elections at the turn of the year, sources said. The Pakistan President went against the advice of top ministers in order to keep his promise, they added.

“Emergency is not being imposed in the country,” ruling Pakistan Muslim League chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said in Islamabad.

He also ruled out imposition of martial law in the country, saying elections would be held as per schedule.

Constitutional experts said that if Musharraf had imposed the emergency, elections would have been postponed at least for a year. Another member of Musharraf’s inner circle suggested that the government wanted to gauge likely reactions if it took this step.

Bush for fair polls

President George W. Bush today urged Musharraf to hold free and fair elections. “My focus in terms of the domestic scene there is that he have a free and fair election, and that’s what we’ve been talking to him about and hopeful they will,” Bush said at a White House news conference.

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