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After talks with Sharif
Bhutto slams the door on Musharraf
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Islamabad, November 15
PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto has reiterated that Gen Pervez Musharraf is unacceptable even as civilian President and she has asked him to quit in order to save the country from disintegration and chaos.

With continued government crackdown on her party workers, lawyers and students across the country, Bhutto said she was contacting other opposition leaders to work out a strategy for a joint anti-Musharraf campaign and possible boycott of elections if held under prevailing conditions.

“The doors for more talks with Gen Musharraf are closed because he has broken commitments and imposed martial law,” Bhutto said while talking to TV channel Dawn News on telephone from Lahore where she has been put under house arrest in the residence of a party senator. “A lot of water has flown down the bridge since I negotiated with him for the restoration of democracy.”

Bhutto said she had a long discussion on current situation with exiled premier Nawaz Sharif and was also contacting other opposition leaders, most of whom are under detention, to hold an all parties’ conference to forge unity among opposition parties for ousting Musharraf and ending his dictatorial rule.

She planned to call Sharif again later tonight. Nawaz Sharif also called on Jamaat Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed and briefed him about Bhutto’s conversation with him.

Meanwhile, Raja Zafar-ul Haq, chairman of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, also confirmed that the two opposition leaders spoke by telephone yesterday and were ready to bury their differences for a “joint struggle” to oust Musharraf.

“She has assured she will continue the struggle against General Musharraf until he resigns from both offices,” he said. “He is not acceptable, neither as President nor as army chief.”

Lawyers, students, political workers, civil society activists and journalists staged demonstrations across the country demanding Musharraf’s ouster. Bhutto appreciated that students had joined the struggle for democracy and assured them that the days of the military ruler were numbered. “You must come forward and join democratic forces in greater numbers to save the country,” she asked the student community.

Bhutto accused Musharraf and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of launching a slander campaign against her in the media and vowed to sue the PML for forging a letter from her to US senator Galbraith. She said state funds were being used in this campaign.

Bhutto said she had not finalised her stance on the boycott of elections and would consult all other opposition parties for a united decision.

She, however, said free and fair elections were impossible under emergency, suspension of the constitution, detention of thousands of people and a pliant election commission. 

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