Pak poll victors for dialogue with militants: NYT

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Islamabad, Feb.20 : The winners of Pakistan's parliamentary elections said they would initiate a dialogue with militants, undo the crackdown on the media and restore the independence to the judiciary

Asif Ali Zardari told reporters in Islamabad that many unpopular policies would be scrapped.

Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, said the new Parliament would reverse many of the unpopular policies that had fuelled a strong protest vote against President Pervez Musharraf and the PML-Q.

The New York Times quoted Zardari as saying that he wanted a government of national consensus.

Zardari said he is talking to Nawaz Sharif about forming a coalition.

Although the resounding victory of the two parties was broadly welcomed in Pakistan, there were immediate memories of the failings of civilian governments here in the 1990s.

Sharif has announced several conditions for joining a coalition. They included the impeachment of Musharraf and the restoration of the chief justice and other Supreme Court judges suspended by the president in November.

Zardari was less categorical.

"We might have to take soft, small steps," he said at a news briefing at his home in the capital after a meeting of 50 senior members of the party.

Zardari did not specifically call for the reinstatement of the chief justice and his colleagues; there are corruption charges still pending against him.

He also criticized the anti-terrorism policies of Musharraf, saying that he had played a double game that had led to an increase in militancy.

Former Pakistani Army chief, General Jehangir Karamat, said the election of a new government should help the United States if it was looking to work with moderate forces.

ANI

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