'Pakistan to hold general elections in November'



`Pakistan to hold general elections in November` Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will announce on August 14 the roadmap for the next general elections likely to be held in the first week of November, months ahead of schedule, according to a media report on Monday.

The ruling Pakistan People's Party and the main opposition PML-N held a meeting yesterday to discuss the upcoming general election, Dawn News channel quoted its sources as saying.

The Premier will formally announce the roadmap for the polls on August 14, which is Pakistan's Independence Day, the report said.

The next general election is scheduled for March next year, when the PPP-led government will complete its five-year term.

However, the PPP is under pressure from the opposition to advance the polls in the wake of allegations of widespread corruption and poor governance.

The opposition has also been emboldened by a standoff between the government and the Supreme Court, which has given Prime Minister Ashraf time till July 25 to approach Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Ashraf's predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was convicted of contempt and disqualified by the apex court after he refused to revive the cases against Zardari.

During the meeting held yesterday, the PPP and PML-N agreed that the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, and other federal and provincial ministers in the caretaker set-up would be residents of Pakistan.

The caretaker Premier will be from neither the PPP or the PML-N nor one who has been a member or leader of any other political party, Dawn News reported.

A seven-member PML-N team, including senior leaders Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Khwaja Asif and Ishaq Dar, and a five-member PPP team, including Khursheed Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan and presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, attended the meeting.

The PML-N and PPP also agreed to frame a code of conduct for the election after consulting other political parties.

The meeting further decided that corruption cases will not be filed against any political leader till the polls.

A media report said that the PPP and PML-N were looking at two candidates for the post of caretaker Prime Minister - Abdullah Hussain Haroon, the Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, and leading lawyer and rights activist Asma Jahangir.

Meanwhile, The Express Tribune reported that the PPP and PML-N had exchanged key proposals on creating a caretaker set-up to oversee the polls.

Top leaders from both parties told the daily that the exchange had taken place through unspecified informal channels.

Leaders of both parties claimed they had not held any meetings. Raja Riaz, a senior PPP leader from Punjab, said: "All I can tell you at the moment is that we, by and large, have an understanding to talk about anything related to elections, but no meeting has been held so far. We will have to go a long way before starting a formal process."

The PPP wants the PML-N to help select an individual to head the caretaker set-up who would not approach Swiss authorities to revive the graft cases against Zardari.

PTI