Pakistan's Opposition Leader Calls Promise of Elections a 'Positive Step'

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Pakistan's opposition leader Benazir
Bhutto says it will be difficult to hold elections if emergency rule is still in place.

But she's calling President Pervez Musharraf's promise to hold elections in January as scheduled a ``first positive step.'' Bhutto adds that she has ``not shut doors for talks'' with him.

At a news conference earlier today, Musharraf declared that he
wants to hold elections before January 9th, but he declined to set
a time limit on the state of emergency.

Critics note that while the constitution is suspended under the
state of emergency, public gatherings are illegal. They question
how campaigning could take place under threats of arrest.

Meanwhile, Musharraf has decided to give military courts the
power to try civilians accused of charges ranging from treason to
inciting public unrest. The new rule could include Bhutto, who has
vowed to lead a nearly 200-mile protest march on Tuesday in
defiance of the ban.


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