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Musharraf may postpone 2007 Pakistan polls

The elections may be delayed by a year due to the worsening law and order situation in Waziristan and Balochistan.
None | By Indo-Asian News Service, Islamabad
UPDATED ON MAR 21, 2006 05:12 PM IST

While Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf promised his US counterpart, George W Bush, that he would go ahead with general elections as promised in 2006, there are indications that the polls may be deferred once again.

Pakistan Muslim League President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, in an interview to an unidentified foreign radio station, said the government wanted to hold elections in 2007 but they could be delayed by a year due to the worsening law and order situation in Waziristan and Balochistan, where the army has launched a crackdown, the SANA news agency reported.

The southwest province of Balochistan, that has rich reserves of gas and minerals, has seen escalating violence since last year by tribals who have been attacking security forces and government installations.

They are demanding more autonomy for the province and more royalty for the reserves exploited by the government as well as an end to military cantonments and development projects that they feel may marginalise the local Baloch population.

In Waziristan, near the Afghanistan border, the military is fighting militants of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants and their local supporters.

Hussain said Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, who is spearheading the revolt, had not fled Balochistan and "was safe in his house".

He also said there was no hurdle to the return to Pakistan of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who is living in exile in Dubai, but under the law she could not become prime minister for a third time.

On former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is living in forced exile in Saudi Arabia, Hussian said he would have to contact the Saudi authorities for his return to Pakistan.

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