Accessibility links

Pakistan's Musharraf Pledges Free, Fair Elections

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has reiterated his pledge Thursday that next week's elections will be "free, fair, transparent and peaceful."

Mr. Musharraf also denied allegations leveled against him by the opposition that he will try to compromise the election. Recent polls show plummeting public support for the Pakistani president.

Leaders of Pakistan's two main opposition parties met this week to discuss concerns that the February 18 elections will be rigged.

Separately, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said Pakistan's election commission has failed to investigate allegations of election irregularities, compromising the fairness of the upcoming polls.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she is concerned about the potential for election violence in Pakistan. She said next week's polls must inspire confidence that Pakistan's citizens can vote freely.

The Pakistani government has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers across the country ahead of elections on Februrary 18.

Interior Ministry spokesman Jawad Iqbal Cheema said the soldiers will not be stationed at the polling stations. He also said more than 1,000 international observers and journalists will be in Pakistan for the elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.