Despite Rumors, Pakistan President Does Not Impose Emergency Rule

Senior officials in Pakistan have dismissed reports as mere "rumors and speculations" that President Pervez Musharraf is planning to impose emergency rule in the country. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

Local media reports that President Musharraf might impose a state of emergency had gripped Pakistan since late Wednesday.

Early Thursday, the president met with legal advisors and political allies, triggering speculation that the decision might be finalized.

Among other things, emergency rule could delay elections due by the end of the year and curb rights of assembly and freedom of speech.

But federal Information Minister Mohammed Ali Durrani, speaking after the meeting, said the president did not want undermine the elections.

"We want fair, free and transparent elections in Pakistan and any actions, which can play a negative role to achieve this objective is not in line with Musharraf's thinking. And in the current situation the president thinks there is no requirement of imposing emergency."

Under the constitution, the president may impose emergency rule if Pakistan faces internal and external threats.

A wave of suicide bombings around the country has left hundreds of people dead in the past two months, and religious extremists linked to the al-Qaida terror network as well as Taleban are blamed for the violence.

But critics say Musharraf might use the security concerns as an excuse to impose emergency rule, because he faces serious constitutional difficulties in his attempt to get re-elected by the existing legislative assemblies.

Reports say that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with Musharraf by phone to discuss developments. No details of the talks were issued to the media