KARACHI, Aug, 28, Reuter: The Pakistan Supreme Court on Sunday agreed to consider a petition from opposition leader Benazir Bhutto which could decide the outcome of November’s general elections.

Bhutto’s lawyers said Chief Justice Mohammad Hallem ordered a full bench of 11 judges to meet on October 2 in Rawalpindi to consider her challenge to the concept of nonparty elections.

The court will convene every day to reach a quick decision, but the lawyers said they did not know how long it would take. The elections are scheduled for November 16.

The petition was presented on August 17 hours before the death in a plane crash of President Mohammad ZiaulHaq. At issue is whether the political parties should be allowed to put up their own candidates and use party symbols.

Political analysts say this is a vital factor in a nation where the literacy rate is around one quarter and could make all the difference to the chances of Bhutto’s peoples Party.

Zia had said the polls should be nonparty, like controversial elections held under martial law in 1985. Most analysts believe the move was aimed at weakening the opposition challenge.

No formal ordinance was promulgated before Zia’s death and his civilian successor, acting President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, has said the courts would decide the matter.

Bhutto, daughter and political heir or the executed former Prime

Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on Saturday demanded the present government be sacked to prevent rigging of the elections.

She said in a statement that Ishaq Khan should appoint a neutral caretaker cabinet.

The current cabinet was appointed by Zia as an interim administration after he dismissed the government of Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo on May 29.

Most are members of the Pakistan Muslim League, the establishment party expected to offer the main challenge to Bhutto’s party in November.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 2, 1988