Musharraf decides against emergency rule, prefers elections, after skipping key Kabul conference

President Bush called for a fair and free election in Pakistan. Musharraf cancelled his attendance of a US-backed cross-border tribal peace conference, jirga, in Afghanistan on a joint counter-terror strategy.
Up to 700 tribal elders, Islamic clerics and national leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan are attending the three-day peace jirga in a large tent in Kabul starting Thursday, Aug. 9. Musharraf, who was to have opened the conference with Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, has sent Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in his stead. Fears for the president’s life were cited in Islamabad.
Tribal elders from North and South Waziristan on the Pakistan-Afghan border, as well as invitees from the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, are boycotting the jirga.
Musharraf has been under extreme domestic pressure since the Red Mosque siege in which more than a hundred radicals were killed and his dismissal of the country’s chief justice who was later reinstated. Suicide attacks in North Waziristan are exacting a mounting toll of Pakistan troops.

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