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Pakistan to Decide Timing of Elections

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, this is a contentious issue among those vying for power in Pakistan.

PHILIP REEVES: Pakistan's pro-government Election Commission was supposed to announce its decision today. The country's in crisis, uncertainties only feeding instability. The commission met, yet afterwards, Secretary Kanwar Dilshad revealed it still hadn't made up its mind.

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KANWAR DILSHAD: The political party's nearly (unintelligible).

REEVES: But what happens if the elections are held sometime soon and the PPP does, as expected, emerge the winner? The PPP would then get to choose the prime minister who'd have to work with Musharraf. Many within the party believe that elements of Musharraf's government and the intelligence agencies are complicit in Bhutto's killing, and trying to cover up the details.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

REEVES: Unidentified Group: (Chanting in Foreign Language)

REEVES: Here, they don't believe the government's claim that Bhutto wasn't shot, but died after she hit her head on her car roof because of the shockwaves from a suicide bombing. And, says one of the mourners, Annan Raman Jowbani(ph), they also don't believe the government when it says Bhutto was killed by al- Qaida.

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ANNAN RAMAN JOWBANI: I don't believe in them. The majority of Pakistan people, they don't believe this (unintelligible) these stories.

REEVES: It is hard to imagine, in this atmosphere, how the party of Benazir Bhutto could ever govern the country alongside Musharraf. Some observers believe this means Musharraf will have to go sooner or later. Not all, however. Javed Jabar(ph) served in Benazir Bhutto's cabinet in the late '80s. It was a decade after Bhutto's father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed by the military government of Zia-ul-Haq. The party was still boiling with resentment, but Jabar says Benazir Bhutto took a flexible approach when she came to power in late 1988.

JAVED JABAR: She was pragmatic enough to deal with elements who had publicly been identified as being associated with those who had supported Mr. Bhutto's execution.

REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, Karachi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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