Election must not be put off: Nawaz
LAHORE, Dec 31 Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif formally announced on Monday that his party had decided to contest the Jan 8 polls `on the insistence of the PPP`.
Addressing a press conference at his Raiwind residence here on Monday, he opposed any change in the poll schedule.
He said he had announced to boycott the polls to express solidarity with the Pakistan People`s Party and Sindh after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Now, he said, he was withdrawing the decision on the insistence of her party.
“The PPP leadership during my visit to Garhi Khuda Bux had expressed gratitude for the PML-N`s gesture and appealed for taking part in the polls. I think that Sindh and the PPP must not be left alone at this critical juncture. Therefore, we too are contesting the elections with full force despite all rigging chances.”
He said he did not believe that free and fair polls could be held as long as President Pervez Musharraf was calling the shots because, like in 2002, the former army chief needed a National Assembly that would stamp all his `unconstitutional` actions.
But that dream would not materialise this time, he said, because the PML-Q, Musharraf`s main ally, would be wiped out in a transparent contest.
“God willing, the PML-N will succeed with a thumping majority and the king`s party (PML-Q) will fail to win even 10 seats.”
Mr Sharif said President Musharraf was well aware of the changed scenario and was looking for excuses to delay the polls.
Referring to PML-Q secretary general Mushahid Hussain Sayed`s suggestion for holding the polls in February or March, he said “When even the PPP wants the polls to be held on its scheduled date of Jan 8 why should the electoral exercise be postponed on the advice of the PML-Q?”
Terming the assassination of Ms Bhutto in a gun-and-bomb attack a big national tragedy, he held the government responsible for the lapse in her security.
Mr Sharif complained that he too was being provided poor security cover, citing the example of firing on his caravan in Rawalpindi hours before the attack on Ms Bhutto.
The PML-N leader said he could not attend funeral of the PPP chairperson in Naudero because Asif Ali Zardari had advised him against it.
Alleging that dictatorship had been playing with democracy for the last eight years, he reiterated his demands that Musharraf should resign, new president should form a caretaker government enjoying national consensus and hold free and fair polls.
“This is the only option for putting Pakistan on the path of true democracy.”
The Central Executive Committee of the PML-N will meet on Tuesday to discuss the overall situation.
AFP adds Mr Sharif, who has repeatedly called for Musharraf`s resignation, said the president was the root cause of the violence.
“He is a one-man calamity and source of all the problems,” Mr Sharif said. “We demand that he must immediately resign. This will end all chaos and unrest in the country.”
“Nobody here wants the elections to go after January 8.”
However a spokesman for PML-N said earlier that a “short postponement” of the elections “would be acceptable”.