No elections for a year: Pakistani legal expert


Islamabad : Despite strident calls from world capitals for lifting the emergency and holding general elections, the “legal brain and constitutional wizard” of the Pakistani government has said polls would be deferred by at least a year.

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“The prime minister and parliament would get one-year extension in their terms,” Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada told The News in a telephonic interview.

His statement was in direct contradiction to that of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz Monday that elections would be held as scheduled in January.

Also on Monday, Attorney General Malik Qayyum said the present assemblies would be dissolved on Nov 15 and elections would be held within three months as provided by the law.

Pirzada “stated categorically” that the emergency imposed on Saturday would soon be revoked but the term of present government would be extended by a year, The News reported Tuesday.

“His comment meant that there would be no general elections in January as is being demanded by (former prime minister) Benazir Bhutto, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and all major Western powers,” the newspaper added.

Asked if the extra-constitutional methods employed to put the constitution in abeyance had upset him, Pirzada “visibly (sic) had no reply”.

“Pirzada said he just gave his legal advice on what (President Pervez) Musharraf was planning to do but did not elaborate whether his advice was in favour of such an extra-constitutional step,” The News said.

Responding to another question, he said he was not aware of the timing of the emergency declaration.

Pirzada had left the federal capital for Karachi on Friday afternoon, a day before emergency was declared. He returned Sunday evening.