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Pak EC to decide fate of polls on Tue

December 31, 2007 14:50 IST

Pakistan's Election Commission will on Tuesday decide whether the general election will be held as scheduled on Jan 8 after assessing the impact of violent protests that rocked the country following the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto on poll preparations.

An emergency meeting of the poll panel chaired on Monday by Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Muhammad Farooq sought reports from poll officials in the four provinces about the impact of the protests on election arrangements.

The provincial officials were directed to submit their reports by this evening and another meeting of the Election Commission to be held on Tuesday will decide whether the parliamentary polls should be held on schedule, officials said.

Political parties are expected to decide their future strategy once the Election Commission announces its decision.

Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party had on Sunday said that it favoured the holding of polls on January 8 while the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, which backs President Pervez Musharraf, indicated that it wanted a brief postponement.

Reports have suggested that the poll panel might defer the polls till the end of February or the first week of March in view of a 40-day period of mourning announced by the PPP for Bhutto and the Islamic month of Moharram.

In a statement issued on December 29, the Election Commission had said that pre-poll arrangements, including the printing of ballot papers and training of poll personnel, had been 'adversely affected' by the protests against Bhutto's assassination.

It had said that all electoral rolls and ballot boxes had been destroyed when its offices in nine districts in Sindh province were burnt by protestors.

Sectarian clashes in the tribal Kurram Agency had also created a situation that 'is not conducive' to the holding of polls.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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