Bhutto unveils manifesto pledges

Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has launched her party's manifesto for January's elections, focusing on domestic issues.

Bhutto unveils manifesto pledges
She said her Pakistan People's Party was taking part in the polls under protest and could still boycott them.

Another former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, is calling on all parties to join in a boycott.

President Musharraf has promised to end emergency rule on 16 December, six weeks after he imposed it.

On Wednesday he stepped down as head of the army.

Miss Bhutto told journalists in the capital Islamabad that the PPP's policies were based on what she called the five Es: employment, education, energy, environment and equality.

But she refused to firmly commit to taking part in the parliamentary and provincial assembly elections.

"We are taking part in elections under protest, we are not giving them any legitimacy. But if we do not participate we leave the field for others," she said.

She also outlined a number of concerns about the fairness of preparations for the elections.

On the issue of Nawaz Sharif's call for a boycott, she said that opposition parties would have to "agree to common goals, a common agenda, a common vision for transformation".

An "election boycott is not enough, we must also agree on what follows next... then we will certainly review our decision" to participate in the elections.

'Essential step'

The US has welcomed President Musharraf's pledge to lift a state of emergency on 16 December.

President George W Bush said the move was "an essential step towards getting Pakistan on the road to democracy".

But Washington urged Pakistan's leader to go further and ensure free and fair parliamentary elections in January.

President Musharraf, who took power in a coup in 1999, was sworn in for a new term as a civilian head of state on Thursday after resigning as army chief.

Mr Musharraf promised on Thursday that the general election would be held on schedule "come hell or high water".

Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif have filed papers to contest the elections. They can formally withdraw their nominations by 15 December at the latest.

Mr Musharraf was elected to a second term as president by the country's parliament and provincial assemblies in October. The legitimacy of the vote has been hotly contested.

One of President Musharraf's first moves under emergency rule was to sack the judges. A reshaped court later dismissed all the legal challenges he had faced.

BBC

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Aralık 2007, 20:20
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