Elections will be held on time: Zardari



Islamabad: Amidst speculation about a delay in Pakistan's upcoming general election, President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the polls will be held "on time" so that the foundations of the democratic set-up can be strengthened and the country can move forward.

"I have already said the elections will be held on time," he said in an interview with BBC Urdu's new television programme "Sairbeen".

"We (amended) the Constitution so that if a free and fair election is held and a new history is created, Pakistan can move forward. The foundations will become stronger," he said.

Asked if a caretaker administration will be installed when the government announces the date for the general election, Zardari said, "I believe there will be consensus. The concept we have come up with envisages having non-controversial figures (as members of the interim set-up). I don't think anyone will have objections to that."

Responding to a question about civilian administrations not having total control over polls in the past, the President said, "the civil administration, which will be the interim administration, will have complete control on the polls and their control will be constitutional. Their role is defined in the constitution".

Zaradri, who heads the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, ruled out the possibility of his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari contesting the upcoming polls.

He further said the PPP would decide the issue of whether Bilawal would take over the command of the party.

"He is now underage. As far as taking over command of the party is concerned, he will need time to learn about Pakistan and make an in-depth study of everything. Then the party will decide," Zardari said.

Under Pakistani laws, Bilawal cannot contest polls till he turns 25 in September this year.

Several close aides of Zardari have said that the polls are expected to be held in May after the PPP-led government completes its five-year term in mid-March.

A protest against the government last month by cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri has triggered speculation that the security establishment may be behind moves to delay the polls and prolong the tenure of an interim administration.

PTI