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Musharraf lifts emergency
Invites poll observers
‘Boycott unreasonable’
Afzal Khan and Agencies

Islamabad, December 15
Hours after lifting the 42-day-old emergency, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf tonight said the general election would be held on January 8 as scheduled and invited foreign observers to monitor the poll to assess their fairness.

Addressing the nation, Musharraf justified imposition of the emergency as a ‘necessary’ step to prevent destabilisation of the country and insisted that the desired results had been achieved.

“The elections will be held on January 8,” Musharraf said with a promise that these will be ‘free, fair and transparent’ with everyone welcome to participate as per the Election Commission rules.

“I would like to invite any number of observers to see the fairness,” he said in a televised address aimed at the domestic audience as well as the international community.

The 64-year-old Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, said he regretted two things. “One, the boycott by some parties which have absolutely no reason for a boycott. Secondly, some opposition leaders are raising allegations about rigging even before the real campaigning has got underway or the polls have been held. These are baseless allegations and they should not do this,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Musharraf lifted the emergency and revived the constitution that contains several amendments, including a sweeping purge of the judiciary made since the imposition of the emergency on November 3.

Musharraf issued a series of orders to ensure he could be brought before a court for imposition of emergency or amending the constitutions. A total of seven orders were issued within 12 hours before lifting the emergency to provide full protection to the legislative and administrative measures taken by him during past six weeks. The amendments also pre-empted any requirement for validation by parliament for validation as has been case in previous military coups.

All judges deposed after November 3 stand retired from the court and would not be reinstated despite the revival of the constitution and repeal of the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO). Similarly, judges inducted in superior courts after the emergency would be deemed to have been made in accordance with the constitution.

Musharraf imposed the emergency on November 3 in his capacity as army chief, citing rise in militancy and a dangerous confrontation with an increasingly pro-active judiciary, which, he said, was impeding measures against terrorists. Musharraf struck just when the Supreme Court was close to nullifying his re-election on October 6 from outgoing assemblies by declaring him ineligible for contesting election as army chief. 

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