=> ISLAMABAD, Jan 1: Although two main opposition par -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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=> ISLAMABAD, Jan 1: Although two main opposition par

ISLAMABAD, Jan 1: Although two main opposition parties, the PPP and PML-N, have strongly opposed any postponement of the coming election and the PML-Q has also said that it is willing to take part if the polls are held on January 8, there are strong indications in the capital that a delay of a few weeks is on the cards.

Official sources told Dawn that the caretaker provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh have sought a postponement till the end of Muharram, citing a breakdown in law and order as the main reason and that an announcement about deferment of the polls was expected on Wednesday.

In a report sent to the Election Commission, the Sindh government is reported to have pointed out that the collapse of communications system and destruction of poll records during violent protests following the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto have created a situation in which holding elections on January 8 was not possible.

The Punjab government had said that holding polls under the prevailing law and order situation would not be possible, but had not suggested any date, the sources said.

The Balochistan government has also referred to the law and order situation, but said that it would be possible to hold the polls under ‘enhanced security’ in the province. The NWFP government has suggested that the polls should be held on schedule, except in some troubled areas, like Swat. Almost all the provinces, however, were of the view that the present situation was not ideal for the elections, the sources said.

Election Commission Secretary Kanwar Mohammad Dilshad told Dawn that the commission was in contact with all major political parties and the process would be completed late on Tuesday night.

He confirmed that a decision about elections would be formally announced on Wednesday. He said the commission had in its meeting on Tuesday decided to consult political parties before taking a decision.

The commission was reported to be ready to announce the postponement on Tuesday but withheld the decision keeping in view the strong reaction from the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and decided to consult all major parties.

When asked about the postponement of polls in some districts, the EC secretary said: “There is no possibility for it. Elections would be held on the same date across the country.”He said that election material in 14 districts had been burnt or badly damaged and it might take some time to meet the logistics requirements.

After consultations with the parties, the commission will meet again on Wednesday to take a final decision.

However, opposition parties said on Tuesday they had not been consulted by the commission.

PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said his party had not been consulted by the Election Commission. He added that the party’s central executive committee and federal council would meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

Sources in the PML-N also said that the party had not been contacted by the commission. “The PML-N wants polls held on schedule,” a party leader said.
Source: Dawn
Date:1/2/2008