President Pervez Musharraf has indicated he would "consider" seeking re-election to the presidency but sought to assure critics that he would do so "within legal and constitutional parameters".
"No infringement of the Constitution will take place in this connection," he was quoted by the Daily Times as telling Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, vice president of Pakistan Muslim League-Qaid (PML-Q), the faction that Musharraf has blessed and with whose help he hopes to get re-elected.
The opposition has denounced this move and has refused to call it "re-election", saying the "election" in 2002 itself was "invalid".
Former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, rivals-turned-allies who are now busy forging an opposition front, are livid at Musharraf's efforts to get re-elected by the provincial assemblies and the National Assembly before their tenures end.
Bhutto has called it an effort to place the Constitution upside down.
Musharraf's response to them is they should first usher in democracy in their respective parties. They should end what he calls the "politics of hierarchy" and give youth a chance.
The president also promised Wattoo at a meeting in Rawalpindi that the Election Commission would conduct a fair and transparent poll.
He has ridiculed the Bhutto-Sharif efforts from exile in bringing out a Charter of Democracy, but has told the PML-Q it should set its house in order to meet the new challenge.
The Charter of Democracy has been broadly approved by the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), the grouping of opposition parties that will forge a separate limited alliance with the ultra-right Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) to avoid a rupture in the ranks of the anti-Musharraf opposition.
Charting its own course, but in the direction against Musharraf, MMA on Monday announced a countrywide public mobilisation campaign to resist presidential elections by the existing assemblies.
The MMA supreme council, which met here Monday for four hours with alliance chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed in the chair, decided it would launch a public mobilisation campaign against Musharraf and would hold public meetings at Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad and Rawalpindi, The News newspaper said.