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Free & Fair Polls
Sharif, Bhutto to frame demands

Islamabad, December 3
Former Pakistan Premiers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto tonight decided to draw up a charter of demands to ensure free and fair parliamentary elections and threatened to boycott the elections if their conditions are not met.

The two political rivals set aside their differences to hold marathon talks here on the issue of participating in the polls, which both said would not be free and fair under the prevailing circumstances.

While Bhutto has been saying that her Pakistan People’s Party will participate in the polls “under protest”, Sharif and his PML-N have been pushing for a boycott.

Following their parleys that lasted three and a half hours, the two former Premiers told a news conference that an eight-member committee of leaders of their parties would draw up the charter of demands that would be presented to President Pervez Musharraf to ensure free, fair and transparent polls.

The committee will also set a date for the government to fulfil the demands, failing which the opposition parties would have the option of boycotting the January 8 general election, they said.

“We agreed to draw up a charter of demands and give it to the government. We will give the government a certain amount of time to fulfil the demands. If that is not done, then we feel polls will not be free, fair and transparent. Then we can go towards a boycott,” Sharif said.

Bhutto pointed out that the polls should be held as scheduled on January 8 and there should be no postponement. The date for the polls had been announced after a lot of problems, she pointed out. — PTI

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