Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has asked former Premier Benazir Bhutto to end "agitational politics" and focus on electioneering so that the upcoming general election can be held in a "peaceful atmosphere".
By indulging in agitation, Bhutto, the leader of Pakistan People's Party (PPP), is "strengthening the impression that she is sure of her party's defeat in the elections", Musharraf said at a farewell meeting with members of the outgoing assembly of Punjab province.
Expressing his commitment to hold the polls on schedule in early January and in a free, fair and transparent manner, Musharraf said: "The politicians, including Benazir Bhutto, who are pursuing agitational politics should do away with it and focus on electioneering so that elections could be held in a peaceful atmosphere."
Ruling PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Punjab Governor Khalid Maqbool and outgoing Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi were present at the meeting held at the Chief Minister's House here last night.
Musharraf had been holding secret parleys with Bhutto over the past few months on a possible power-sharing arrangement, but the talks were stopped by the PPP Chairperson after the military ruler imposed emergency on November 3.
Bhutto was released from the second spell of house detention on Friday, hours before US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrived in Islamabad to urge Musharraf to end the emergency and doff his military uniform. Musharraf told Negroponte he was committed to hold the general election.
The National Assembly was dissolved on November 15 and a caretaker government headed by Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro was sworn in by Musharraf the next day. The four provincial assemblies will be dissolved by November 20.