Elections would be held within a couple of months: Pak PM

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 17:29 hrs

Islamabad: Amidst growing speculation about the schedule for Pakistan's next general election, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf today said his government is committed to holding free and fair polls "within couple of months".

Addressing a meeting of the Council of Common Interest, which includes provincial Chief Ministers, Ashraf did not give details about the government's schedule for the polls and the formation of a caretaker administration.

"The government is committed to hold free, fair and transparent elections in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and laws on the subject.

"This will enable the people of Pakistan to exercise their free will to elect a government of their choice for the next tenure," he said aqdding that elections would be held "within a couple of months".

The national and provincial assemblies would complete their tenure within a few weeks and the government is "fully committed to its political and constitutional obligations and believes in strengthening the institutions in their own spheres", Ashraf said.

Democracy is "gaining strength" with the collective wisdom of the federal and provincial governments, he contended.

The Pakistan Peoples Party-led government is set to complete its term on March 16 and several federal ministers have said the polls are likely to be held by mid-May.

This will mark the first time in Pakistan's history that power will be transferred from one elected civilian government to another.

Cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri had mounted a protest against the government to push his demand for electoral reforms.

A sit-in by thousands of Qadri's followers near parliament ended after the government and the cleric signed an agreement last week.

Ashraf said the "amicable solution" of Qadri's protest was proof of his government's "respect" for all democratic forces.

The policy of reconciliation was introduced by the PPP to bring the country out of crisis and all political parties were being taken on board on almost all national issues, he said.

The Council of Common Interest discussed several development projects, including schemes aimed at using coal deposits in Thar to set up thermal power plants.

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