President Pervez Musharraf pledged Thursday that next week's parliamentary elections will be free, fair and held on schedule.

"Despite all rumors, insinuations and every type of apprehensions, these elections will be free, fair, transparent and peaceful," Musharraf told a gathering of intellectuals in the capital of Islamabad.

Voters go to the polls Monday to choose a new parliament in what many Pakistanis hope will be a major step toward full democracy after eight years of military rule.

With polls showing the opposition poised for a landslide victory, the country has been rife with rumors that the government may seek to foment trouble to give authorities an excuse to delay the vote or annul the results.