Elections will be held on time: Raja Pervez Ashraf



Islamabad: All of Pakistan's political parties and stakeholders unanimously feel that the next general election will be held on time and according to schedule, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Saturday.

Ashraf's remarks came against the backdrop of speculation that elements backed by the security establishment could be working to delay the polls scheduled to be held in May.

The Supreme Court has admitted a petition filed by cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri seeking the reconstitution of the Election Commission, a move that some say could delay the polls.

Talking to reporters before leaving on an official visit to Britain, Ashraf said his government is committed to holding a fair, free and impartial election.

The premier said he had discussed the current political situation and the upcoming election during a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari in Lahore last night.

Discussions will continue with other political parties to evolve consensus on holding a fair and free election, he said.

All political parties are determined that the polls should be held on time, he added.

Ashraf said it was very encouraging that a democratically elected government was set to complete its tenure for the first time in Pakistan’s history and this will strengthen democracy and boost the morale of political forces.

Referring to his first official visit to Britain, he said Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with the UK, which is the country’s second largest trading partner in the European Union.

Bilateral trade touched USD 2.99 billion last year, with the balance of trade in Pakistan's favour.

Almost 1.4 billion pounds have been allocated under Britain’s new Operational Plan for Pakistan, primarily in education. This makes Pakistan the largest recipient of British development assistance, he added.

"I shall hold a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss issues of mutual interest," Ashraf said.

During his stay in Britain, the premier will interact with the Pakistani diaspora, media and British parliamentarians.

PTI