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Musharraf bows to US pressure and calls elections

Musharraf bows to US pressure and calls elections
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Pressure is still mounting on Pakistan’s President Musharraf, despite his assurances that elections will take place next year. Across the country protestors took to the streets, in Peshawar riot police needed tear gas to maintain control. In Lahore, students at Punjab University laid flowers at a square named for Pakistan’s now-sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Chowdhry.

Judges and lawyers are leading the protests against the President. They marched in the capital Islamabad, Western lawyers among them, denouncing the state of emergency, and the suspension of the constitution. Musharraf appeared to bow to pressure from Washington in announcing the elections. After speaking to President Bush, he also pledged to quit as army chief if the re-constituted Supreme Court ratifies his victory, in the recent Presidential vote.

The former Prime Minister Benazhir Bhutto however, condemned what she called “vague” promises about elections, and demanded a date when Musharraf would leave the army. She has also threatened to lead mass protests next week.