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Musharraf insists general elections won't be rigged

The polls will be free, fair and transparent and power will be transferred to whoever wins the election, Musharraf says addressing a meeting at Vehari in Punjab province.

world Updated: Dec 18, 2007 16:44 IST

Rejecting the opposition charge, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has insisted that the upcoming parliamentary polls "will not be rigged" and asked politicians not to "pre-judge" the electoral exercise to be held on January 8.

The polls will be free, fair and transparent and power will be transferred to whoever wins the election, he said addressing a meeting at Vehari in Punjab province after inaugurating a gas project on Monday.

"The elections will not be rigged and politicians should not pre-judge the entire exercise," Musharraf was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

"I assure you that the elections will be completely free of any manipulation and I ask the international community to send any number of observers to monitor the elections." His remarks came as opposition parties have expressed apprehensions that the polls could be rigged.

"We are all worried that the elections are going to be rigged in favour of the ruling party (PML-Q)," former Premier and PPP chief Benazir Bhutto had told The Washington Post and Newsweek.

In his address, Musharraf also asked people to vote for those who had "been with him" in the past, saying that the continuity of official policies and projects "depended on the re-election of people who had initiated them." The gathering largely comprised candidates of the PML-Q, their supporters and government employees.

The PML-Q, which was formed by some dissident leaders of former Premier Nawaz Sharif's party in 2002, is expected to perform well in Punjab province in the polls but it may need the support of other parties to form the federal government as observers believe the election will produce a fractured verdict.