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Sharif's Party to Boycott Elections

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8TPV9EO0&show_article=1 Sharif s Party to Boycott Elections Dec 27 01:51 PM US/Eastern By ZARAR KHAN Associated Press
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2007
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      http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8TPV9EO0&show_article=1

      Sharif's Party to Boycott Elections
      Dec 27 01:51 PM US/Eastern
      By ZARAR KHAN
      Associated Press Writer

      Bhutto Rival: ‘Saddest Day In Pakistan’s History’

      RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistani opposition
      leader Nawaz Sharif announced Thursday his party was
      boycotting next month's elections following the
      assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He demanded that
      President Pervez Musharraf resign immediately.

      "The holding of fair and free elections is not
      possible in the presence of Pervez Musharraf. After
      the killing of Benazir Bhutto, I announce that the
      Pakistan Muslim League-N will boycott the elections,"
      Sharif told a news conference, referring to his party.

      Sharif urged other parties to join the boycott of the
      Jan. 8 parliamentary elections. A collective response,
      including by Bhutto's own party could seriously
      undermine the legitimacy of the vote as Musharraf
      attempts to engineer a transition to democracy after
      eight years of military rule.

      "I demand that Musharraf should quit immediately," he
      said. "Musharraf is the cause of all the problems. The
      federation of Pakistan cannot remain in tact in the
      presence of President Musharraf."

      Sharif, 57, was a longtime rival of Bhutto as the two
      vied for power in the late 1980s and 1990s. He was
      ousted in the 1999 coup that brought Musharraf to
      power.

      Sharif said after three days of mourning, he would
      chalk out a strategy to challenge Musharraf's rule but
      he rebutted suggestions that he could gain political
      capital from her demise.

      "I think nobody stands to gain and nobody should be
      looking for any gains," he told the British
      Broadcasting Corp. "It's a very serious situation for
      the country today."

      As word of Bhutto's death spread throughout a shaken
      and distraught Pakistan, Sharif rushed to the
      Rawalpindi hospital where she died and sat silently
      next to her body.

      "Benazir Bhutto was also my sister, and I will be with
      you to take the revenge for her death," he said
      afterward, his eyes at times welling up with tears.
      "Don't feel alone. I am with you. We will take the
      revenge on the rulers."

      Bhutto, like Sharif a two-time former prime minister,
      was hopeful of winning a third term. Election
      authorities have disqualified Sharif from contesting a
      seat because of court convictions.

      Bhutto's death will leave Sharif as the most prominent
      leader of a secular political party in Pakistan.

      Bhutto's supporters erupted in anger and grief,
      attacking police and rioting in several cities. At the
      hospital where she died, some smashed glass and
      wailed, chanting slogans against Musharraf.

      The gathering unrest stoked fears of mass protests and
      violence across the nuclear-armed nation, an important
      U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

      For Sharif, the path forward was far from clear.

      "I think we all have to seriously think about how to
      move ahead because such incidents are something
      absolutely unusual or unheard of," he told CNN. "We
      have never been confronted with this kind of a
      situation in our public life in Pakistan."

      Pakistan, however, has seen its share of political
      violence, and Islamic militants have repeatedly
      targeted top figures in Musharraf's government. Last
      weekend, a suicide bomber targeted former Interior
      Minister Aftab Sherpao inside a mosque, killing 56
      other people.

      Sharif, a law graduate and the son of a leading
      industrialist who is considered religiously
      conservative, rose to prominence under Gen. Zia
      ul-Haq's military regime in the 1980s, becoming the
      chief minister of the eastern province of Punjab.

      He went on to lead the Pakistan Muslim League and
      became Bhutto's chief rival in the struggle for power
      during a turbulent decade of civilian rule.

      Sharif was ousted in 1999 by then-army chief
      Musharraf. Sharif went into exile, living for most of
      the time in Saudi Arabia, before returning last month
      to challenge Musharraf once more.
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