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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistani President says ready to discuss snap polls

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Jan. 7, IRNA -- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has hinted snap parliamentary polls and said he is ready to discuss the issue with the opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

“I am ready to hold talks with Nawaz Sharif on all issues, including early elections,” President Zardari said in an interview with private Geo television to be aired Saturday night.

Parliamentary elections are due in 2013 but a minister was quoted by local media on Friday as saying that polls could be held in October this year.

Reports also suggested that President Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani have sought consent of allies in the ruling coalition to hold early polls.

Opposition parties also mounting pressure on the government to hold elections prior to the schedule.

President Zardari denied any conflict with the powerful military and the independent judiciary, as has been projected in the local media.

Local media and opposition parties claim that the government is following the policy of confrontation in the wake of a memo, allegedly sent to the former American Army Chief Mike Mullen by President Zardari's close aide and former ambassador in Washington Hussain Haqqani, seeking U.S. help to assert control over the army.

The memo issue, now being invested by a Judicial Commission, has plunged the government into a crisis as the army and intelligence chiefs in the Supreme Court described it a reality and asked for investigation but the government termed it bogus.

President Zardari, who refused to submit reply in the Supreme Court, said he will accept the Parliamentary Committee on National Security’s decision on the memo issue.

He said that both the Supreme Court and parliamentary committee were looking into the memo issue but in his view parliament is sovereign, adding the memo issue was unnecessarily propagated.

Giving his first interview after a prolonged silence, President Zardari said that in the question raised by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani about the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan without a visa, the prime minister had been pointing the finger at former military President Pervez Musharraf.

President Zardari said the trial of Musharraf might have demoralised the army and if he had to be tried now, parliament, which had been delegated all powers, would do so.

President Zardari denied confrontation with the judiciary or the army and said the impression of a clash between institutions was not correct but was part of an evolutionary process.

**1412
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30753265



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