Hindustan Times : Pakistan Opp parties announce boycott of polls

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pakistan Opp parties announce boycott of polls

Rezaul H Laskar, Press Trust Of India | Islamabad, November 12, 2007

Stepping up pressure on President Pervez Musharraf, several key opposition parties in Pakistan on Monday announced a boycott of the planned elections if they are held under Emergency rule, saying the polls will be a sham unless the General lifts the curbs.

The Pakistan Muslim League (N) of exiled former premier Nawaz Sharif, Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehreek-i-Insaaf of cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan have decided not to take part in elections held under Emergency and vowed to resist such polls, which, Musharraf said on Sunday, will be held by January 9.

The decision was taken at a meeting between Jamaat chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Tehreek chairman Imran Khan, who has gone underground after the imposition of Emergency, in Lahore on Sunday. Sharif, in exile in Saudi Arabia, participated in the discussions over phone, said a statement issued by the Tehreek.

"There is no possibility of free and transparent elections under the Emergency and the Provisional Constitutional Order issued by President Pervez Musharraf," Tehreek spokesman Ahmed Awais told PTI.

"The three parties will not participate if the polls are held before the Emergency is lifted," he said.

The statement came as Pakistan People's party leader Benazir Bhutto said Musharraf's poll announcement will not defuse the situation and asked him to end Emergency rule as free and fair elections were not possible without it.

Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan from an eight-year self-exile under a power-sharing deal with Musharraf, did not say whether her party will boycott the poll.