Pakistani opposition parties to boycott elections

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Lahore, Nov 30: Pakistan's All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) has announced its decision to boycott the coming general elections.

However, the grouping hinted at reviewing its decision if all the unconstitutional steps including sacking of the judges, were taken back before last date for withdrawal of nomination papers, The Nation newspaper reported.

''We believe that the decision would go in favour of the nation,'' said Pakistan Muslim League leader Nawaz Sharif while briefing newspersons about the APDM's decisions here last night.

All opposition parties except Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's party attended the meeting.

Mr Sharif said the APDM candidates would withdraw their nomination papers on the last date of withdrawal of nomination papers on December 15, and if the situation was reversed to pre-November 3 position by that time, the APDM may respond positively.

He said all parties in the movement were averse to taking part in the coming polls under an unconstitutional set-up.

The decision to boycott the elections was taken with heavy heart, Mr Sharif said, adding that if the APDM component parties participated in elections, they would get sweeping victory.

The APDM has constituted a six-member committee headed by him to convince PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto and leader of the pro-Taliban Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam Maulana Fazalur Rehman to boycott the elections.

He said the APDM would soon call National Conference and all political parties, lawyers, civil society, trade organisations and media people would be invited to participate in it for chalking out the future line of action.

Rejecting President Musharraf's announcement to lift emergency by December 16, he said restoration of judiciary to pre-November 3 position was the main issue for the APDM parties.

He said lifting of emergency and withdrawal of PCO sans restoration of the deposed judges of the superior judiciary was not of any significance.

Mr Sharif added that now Musharraf had put in place the judiciary of his own choice to get his purposes served.

Speaking on the occasion, MMA chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed said he would personally meet Fazlur Rehman to convince him to boycott the elections, and if he did not agree, the MMA would follow the APDM decision.

Imran Khan said the whole system had been paralysed following imposition of emergency on November 3, and unless all the unconstitutional steps were rolled back, things would not return to normalcy in the country.

He commended the APDM decision.

Mr Sharif also said if the APDM did not abide by its decision to boycott the polls, it would tantamount to stabbing the deposed judges at their backs.

He hoped that the PPP and JUI-F would soon join the APDM camp to end legitimacy of the elections.


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