PPP to consult all political forces to ensure fair polls



Islamabad: The ruling Pakistan People's Party today decided to start consultations with all political forces for ensuring free and fair polls to the national and provincial assemblies, which are set to complete their tenure in March.

The core committee of the PPP, during a meeting held here this evening, urged Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to hold consultations with "all political forces on the mode and modalities for holding elections to the national and provincial assemblies in a free, fair, transparent and peaceful manner," said a statement issued by the premier's office.

Ashraf announced he would formally start the consultation process. The meeting reviewed the political situation in the country with a focus on holding free and fair elections in accordance with the law and Constitution.

The PPP's top leadership resolved that the elections "within the time limit stipulated in the Constitution and will not be delayed even for a day". The meeting felicitated the premier for handling "recent threats mounted by some elements to postpone the elections".

Though the statement did not name these elements, the PPP leadership was apparently referring to the recent protest by cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, who had demanded the dissolution of the assemblies and the formation of a caretaker government after consultations with the army and the judiciary.

Qadri ended a four-day protest in Islamabad after signing a face-saving deal with the government last week.

The PPP and opposition parties have accused Qadri of acting as a front for the security establishment in order to delay polls scheduled to be held in May. The parliament will complete its term on March 16 and federal ministers have said that the next general election will be held by mid-May.

In recent weeks, cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri had mounted a protest against the government to push his demand for electoral reforms. A sit-in by thousands of Qadri's followers near parliament ended after the government and the cleric signed an agreement last week.

Ashraf said the "amicable solution" of Qadri's protest was proof of his government's "respect" for all democratic forces.

The policy of reconciliation was introduced by the PPP to bring the country out of crisis and all political parties were being taken on board on almost all national issues, he said.

The Council of Common Interest discussed several development projects, including schemes aimed at using coal deposits in Thar to set up thermal power plants.

PTI