Top opposition parties hold crucial meeting in Islamabad

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Islamabad, Feb 27 (UNI) Pakistan's top opposition parties met here today amid preparations to form a coalition government at the Centre.

More than 171 newly-elected National Assembly members from Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League(N) and nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) discussed the shape of future government at and after a lunch hosted by PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari.

The PPP and PML (N) have 87 and 67 seats respectively while ANP got 9 out of 268 seats contested during election for the 342-member Assembly. Election on four seats was postponed while remaining ones would go to women to be elected on reserved seats.

''I would like to inform President Pervez Musharraf that we are not prepared to wait for a single day for the Assembly to be convened,'' Mr Sharif told the meeting.

''We have more than 171 members sitting here and they all want early annoucement of official results by the Election Commission.

The sooner results are announced to pave way for convening Assembly session, the better it would be,'' he stressed.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Zardari appealed to all political forces to work for checking dictatorship in the country. ''This is a window of opportunity and we must not loose this opportunity to restore a real democracy in the country,'' he said.

He stressed that all political forces shared equal responsibility at this critical junture. ''We must realise this as we owe it to our children.'' ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan said, ''We have paid a heavy price in the past with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, adding that it was a huge loss for all moderate democratic forces.'' ''People of Pakistan gave their verdict on February 18 and it is now our collective responsibility to carry forward the democratic process,'' he added.

''We have to ensure that we reach the goals for which our forefathers struggled-- independence of judiciary, supremacy of Parliament and rule of law in the country,'' he said.

UNI XC SKB HS1636

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