Pakistan opposition formulates charter for free and fair election

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Islamabad, Dec 4 (UNI) In a major political move, Pakistan's leading opposition teemed up on one platform early today to formulate a charter of demands and present it to the government for holding of free and fair election.

This is for the first time that Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Benazir Bhutto, and other opposition parties, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, Jamat-e-Islami and top nationalist parties, got together since President Pervez Musharraf imposed state of emergency and assumed office of the civilian president.

''We will formulate the charter and present it to the government with a deadline for its implementation,'' former premiers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto told a press conference after a lengthy meeting of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and All Parties democratic Alliance (APDM) in Islamabad.

While the press conference was actually scheduled for 1945 has (local time) yesterday, it started well past midnight.

''The government's refusal to accept the charter of demands will lead us to boycotting the January 8 parliamentary elections,'' said Mr Sharif, whose nomination papers for the polls were rejected last evening on the ground that he was convicted in a hijacking case in 2000.

He was sentenced to life for allegedly ordering aviation authorities to stop then army chief General Musharraf's aircraft to land anywhere in Pakistan.

''A committee of ARD and APDM has been formed, which will prepare the charter in two to three days,'' Mr Sharif added.

Ms Bhutto said if right conditions were not created for an election process which was seen to be fair and transparent, the committee could recommend pulling out of the polls.

While indicating that the two sides were sincerely planning to take part in the election if the charter of demands was accepted, Ms Bhutto said. ''The ball was now in the court of the regime.'' About the legitimacy of President Musharraf's rule, she said: ''Only elected representatives will determine this question and the issue of judiciary.

''We want that the elections are held on January 8 and the demands that we are going to put up through the charter of demands are met in the given deadline so that the poll schedule is not disturbed,'' she added.


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