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Musharraf hints at refrendum

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    Musharraf hints at refrendum

    ISLAMABAD, Nov 1 - Pakistan's army ruler, faced with world demands to say when military rule will end, on Monday held out the possibility of a referendum to give his 21-day-old army-led government some international legitimacy.

    General Pervez Musharraf told his first news conference since the army overthrew Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's 31-month government that a timetable for the restoration of democracy was a "burning issue" for key international donors.

    He said that the governing National Security Council (NSC) he set up last week to oversee the running of the country would consider a proposal for a plebiscite.

    "This is one demand from certain sections of the people. I would like to put it to the NSC for a judgment, whether a referendum should be held or some other legal methodology," he said. He gave no further details.

    It was the first time Musharraf had publicly mentioned putting his slowly emerging government mix of civilian technocrats and military chiefs to a popularity test and follows international pressure on him to time-bind military rule.

    The NSC comprises Musharraf, the heads of the navy and air force, and four civilians -- a constitutional expert, the current central bank governor, a prominent woman social affairs expert and a prominent former civil servant.


    It rules over a cabinet, out of which only the finance, foreign affairs and attorney-general's portfolios have been distributed to neutral experts with no close ties to Sharif or his predecessor, Benazir Bhutto.

    An unrepentant Musharraf repeated a pledge made in an October 17 broadcast that the army would rule until it was no longer needed and had carried out its task of economic renewal, cleansing state institutions and punishing the corrupt.

    "I have been counter-suggesting (to the international community): Don't lay down time objectives, lay down objectives. When I have achieved them, that is the time (to end military rule)," he said.

    He described the current political setup as a "mix of military and civilian government" and pointed out that martial law was not in force.

    Musharraf listed his priorities as mending an "economy in total collapse," punishing a corrupt elite, cleansing state institutions, strengthening ties between the four provinces and installing "real grassroots democracy at district level".

    The army takeover has been welcomed domestically, according to the independent media, and none of Pakistan's donors have called for the reinstatement of Sharif, who is being detained pending a probe of his financial and official dealings.

    But the United States, European Union and Commonwealth have all bewailed the absence of a pledge to restore democracy within a specific timeframe and have suggested they might block crucial multilateral aid in retaliation.

    A previous military ruler, General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, seized power in 1977 promising to restore democratic politics after 90 days but ruled until he was killed in a plane crash 11 years later.


    Should a refrendum be held, and if so what should be the subject matter of such a refrendum? Hopefully it will not be a joke like Zia's refrendum. Any views.

    same old crap as expected.


      Indian bankrupt(gharib) that was exactly the reply which was expected from you. I feel that you are one of the leading intellectual of your country together with Sajjadm. Thanks for your words of wisdom.


        Don't forget Aman Ba**ard, Ehsan. He hasn't posted for a while but his runty shadow has been very busy.


          Mr Xtreme and Eshan,

          The two frustrated brats on this forum.