Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] on Monday said that he was determined to remove his army uniform and hold the general election due by mid-January 'as close as possible to the schedule" despite the imposition of emergency in the country.
The military ruler, who declared emergency on Saturday and suspended fundamental rights, said this while briefing over 80 diplomats at the Aiwan-e-Sadr or presidency here.
"I am determined to execute this third stage of transition fully and I'm determined to remove my uniform once we correct these pillars in judiciary and the executive and the parliament," he said during the meeting at which he explained his reasons for declaring an emergency.
Shortly after imposing emergency, Musharraf had said he wanted a three-phased transition to civilian democracy that would conclude with the holding of polls. His comments came amidst mounting pressure from the world community to end the emergency and return to democracy.
Musharraf's spokesman Major General (retired) Rashid Qureshi also quoted him as telling the diplomats that efforts would be made "to stay as close as possible to the schedule of elections. There are legal implications."
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz too has said that the election would be held "according to schedule".
Musharraf also told the envoys that emergency had been imposed because the superior judiciary had paralysed various organs of the state and created impediments in the fight against terrorism.
Pakistan was facing challenges because certain decisions of the superior judiciary had created "a state of dysfunction of vital pillars of the state and such a situation was not acceptable," Musharraf said.
The law enforcement authorities and provincial governments were facing obstacles in maintaining internal security and "sustaining the fight against terrorism".
Diplomatic sources said that Musharraf indicated to the diplomats that any 'slippages' in the process to hold the polls would be minor and such slippages would be due to 'unavoidable legal issues'.
The sources, who were familiar with what transpired at the meeting, dismissed as "pure speculation" reports in a section of the media that some envoys had suggested to Musharraf that he should step down and leave Pakistan.
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