President Pervez Musharraf has moved to calm ongoing political protests at his imposition of a state of emergency by promising parliamentary elections, planned for January, will now take place a month later. He is also insisting that he will step down as Army Chief but without saying when.
Pakistan can remain under the state of emergency until January. After that, any extension will require parliamentary approval. For now the roadblocks around the presidential palace, and other key government buildings, remain in place. The promise of an election before February 15th came just hours after President Musharraf spoke with President George W. Bush on the telephone.
President Bush said he told him to hold the elections and give up his army uniform. The United States had been threatening to review its financial aid to Pakistan. Former prime minister and senior opposition figure, Benazir Bhutto, has theatened a mass rally in Rawalpindi tomorrow and more action after that. She claims thousands of her supporters were arrested during the night but insists her movement remains undeterred.