Pakistan's parliamentary polls, originally scheduled for Jan. 8,
would be postponed to Feb. 18, the Election Commission said
The chief election commissioner Qazi Muhammad Farooq said the
postponement was mainly due to damages to election materials.
"The violence, which followed the assassination of Benazir
Bhutto, led to the destruction of eleven election offices with
electoral rolls and transparent ballot boxes, and adversely
affected the printing of ballot papers, training of poll workers
and other pre-election logistics," Farooq said at a news conference
The Sindh province requested the postponement of general
elections, said Farooq.
The Election Commission on Wednesday reviewed the reports from
the provincial election commission offices and held consultations
with political parties and eventually made the decision to postpone
"I assure all political parties elections will be fair and
transparent," said Farooq.
He also urged all political parties to participate in the
The Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) quoted President of
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif
as saying that there was no reason for postponement of elections
and those desirous of delaying polls wanted so to avoid crushing
Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has urged the Election
Commission to hold the elections as scheduled. Bhutto's husband
Asif Ali Zardari, who is the co-chairman of PPP, said any delay of
the general elections would be unacceptable.
Secretary General of the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League
(PML), Mushahid Hussain Syed, on Wednesday said the decision of the
Election Commission regarding Jan. 8 elections would be acceptable
to their party.
He said PML was prepared to take part in the elections, and the
date which the commission would fix for the polls would be
The electioneering gained momentum when former prime minister
Nawaz Sharif, top leader of PML-N, decided on Dec. 9 to take part
in the elections.
However, the election campaigns came to an abrupt stop when
Bhutto was killed at a election rally in Rawalpindi on Dec. 27.
The assassination of Bhutto left the whole nation in grief and
supporters of PPP took to the streets in protest. In Sindh province
where PPP has a lot of supporters, election materials and offices
were destroyed in riots triggered by Bhutto's death.
The PPP on Sunday nominated Bilawal, Bhutto's 19-year-old son,
as new chairman of the party and announced it would contest the
elections, putting the whole election process back on track.
A total of 7,335 candidates will contest the elections for 342
seats in the National Assembly and altogether 728 seats in other
four provincial assemblies.
(Xinhua News Agency January 3, 2008)