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International | Government & Elections

Pak Opposition Rethinks Poll Boycott
by IOL (reposted)
Tuesday Dec 4th, 2007 7:22 AM
ISLAMABAD — Pakistani opposition parties planning to boycott the January's general elections are coming under immense pressure from their respective candidates and voters to rescind their decision.
"Yes, there is an immense pressure on us by our candidates and voters for contesting the elections after some major opposition parties have refused to boycott the polls," Ahsan Iqbal, the central secretary information of former premier Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), told IslamOnline.net.

"If they stick to their stance, then we will have to review our decision (of boycotting the polls) because we don't want to leave the field open for pro-Musharraf parties to gain two-third majority and give validity to his unconstitutional actions."

The All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM), which comprises Sharif's PML-N, Jamaat-e-Islaami – the country's largest religious party - cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party and various religious, regional and nationalist parties decided to boycott the January 8 elections.

But former premier Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan peoples Party (PPP) and few other opposition parties have decided to contest the polls, arguing that a boycott would pave the way for pro-Musharraf parties

Sharif flew into Islamabad earlier Monday from the eastern city of Lahore to meet Bhutto and coordinate stances on elections, scheduled for January 8.

The meeting is the first between the old rivals since Sharif returned from exile in Saudi Arabia on November 25.

The nomination papers of Sharif and his younger brother, a former Chief Minister of the country's power base, Punjab, have been rejected by officials on grounds of having criminal records.

Dissidents

Ahsan says the APDM still prefers to boycott the elections because the government has already "finalized" the results.

"We know that the elections will be massively rigged, but even then if the PPP and the JUI do not join hands with us, then there will be no benefit of a semi-boycott."

He says a majority of party workers and candidates oppose the leadership's decision to boycott the polls.

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§Sharif and Bhutto issue ultimatum
by Al Jazeera (reposted) Tuesday Dec 4th, 2007 7:26 AM
Tuesday, December 4, 2007 : Former Pakistan premiers and one-time rivals join forces to threaten polls boycott.

1_234724_1_5.jpg
Bhutto, left, and Sharif are both former PMs who
went into exile and were one-time rivals [AFP]

Two former Pakistani prime ministers say they want a list of demands met by the government or they will boycott January's polls. Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, who met for the first time on Monday since returning from exile, said they would jointly finalise the list within days. A boycott could further harm the credibility of the polls.

Sharif was earlier in the day banned by the Electoral Commission from taking part in the polls. "If these demands are not met then we will go ahead with a boycott of the elections," he told a joint press conference with Bhutto after a three-hour meeting between the one-time rivals in Islamabad.

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