Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf has ruled out early elections in Pakistan, saying that democracy will return no sooner than October 2002.
"This is my assurance that we will have an elected government in place by October 2002... there should be no doubts about it," Musharraf yesterday said, who declared himself President after dissolving the suspended Parliament and four Provincial Assemblies earlier this month.
Musharraf, who is under tremendous pressure from the Western countries to return the country to democracy, said his ascension to the Presidency is in the "national interest." "The international community should understand that the question here is not to return the country to democracy, but establishing democracy in Pakistan," and the government is moving in that direction, he said.
The government is holding municipality elections in phases which Musharraf says is the first step toward grass roots democracy. The elections will be completed by August.
The military-led government plans to introduce proper checks and balances and division of power to block the way of military takeover in the future, he said.