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Six key dates in Pakistan's political crisis

world Updated: Nov 11, 2007 10:25 IST
Six key dates in Pakistan's political crisis

A week into the state of emergency imposed by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, here are six key upcoming dates that may help determine the country's immediate future.

Monday, November 12: A Commonwealth action group meets in London to discuss the crisis and how it should respond. The 53-nation Commonwealth could decide to suspend Pakistan from the club of mostly former British colonies, as it did for five years when Musharraf seized power in a coup in 1999.

Tuesday, November 13: Former premier Benazir Bhutto starts her "long march" from Lahore in eastern Pakistan to the capital Islamabad, a distance of about 275 kilometres (170 miles).

Bhutto, who leads Pakistan's largest political party, has given Musharraf a deadline of November 15 to set a firm date for elections by mid-January, quit as army chief, end emergency rule and restore the suspended constitution.

Thursday, November 15: Deadline day and officially the end of Musharraf's current term as president. According to the original timetable, he is supposed to take the oath of office for another five-year mandate after winning the October 6 presidential. He has promised to take the oath as a civilian. The Supreme Court has yet to rule out legal challenges against his re-election, however, and while the constitution is suspended and the court stripped of judges who refused to endorse emergency rule, it is unlikely that time limit still stands.

Also under the original timetable, parliament is supposed to stand down to pave the way for legislative elections by mid-January.

Bhutto has set the day as the deadline for Musharraf to quit the army and announce
a firm date for elections that she says should be held by January 15.

Early to mid-December: According to the country's attorney general Malik Mohammad Qayyum, speaking over the weekend, emergency rule "is likely to be lifted in a month," which would indicate early December. He had earlier spoken of a month or two. Musharraf, however, has been more vague.

January 15: The original scheduled deadline for holding parliamentary and provincial elections before emergency rule was announced. The international community, as well as Bhutto and other opposition leaders, have called on him to stick to this timetable.

February 15: Musharraf said last Thursday that the elections would be held by February 15, but was not specific about a date. He also said then that he will hang up his uniform when his re-election as president is confirmed by the new Supreme Court but gave no indication of timing.