Pakistan opposition deadlocked on some demands

Pakistan's opposition parties remained deadlocked Friday after three days of talks to draft conditions they want the government to meet for their participation in next month's elections.

Pakistan opposition deadlocked on some demands
Representatives of the parties of former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto said they would continue talks on two remaining sticking points, after announcing Thursday they had reached agreement on 15 issues in a charter of electoral demands.

They would not specify what the demands for their participation in parliamentary elections set for Jan. 8 were until they are endorsed by their leaders.

"We still have to settle a couple of issues, and I'm an optimist that this will be done soon," said Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N.

Media reports said differences remained on the two key issues: The restoration of an independent judiciary and a deadline to be set for government compliance.

Both Bhutto and Sharif claim that President Pervez Musharraf's government will try to rig the vote. But they have disagreed what conditions should be put in place to prevent cheating.

Sharif has insisted that Supreme Court judges dismissed by Musharraf when he proclaimed a state of emergency a month ago be reinstated before the vote. Bhutto has indicated she would prefer to reinstate them after the elections.

"We both are concerned that the elections seem to be unfair and we (would) like to set some benchmarks to demonstrate what is fairness," Bhutto told reporters at the airport as she was leaving for a brief visit to Dubai.

Bhutto is a two-time prime minister who recently returned to her homeland after nearly eight years in exile.

Her spokesman Farhatullah Babar said she would return to Pakistan in several days. Bhutto's family still lives abroad, including in Dubai, where they fled before Musharraf's military coup in 1999 that ousted then-prime minister Sharif.

Bhutto has said her Pakistan People's Party intends to contest the parliamentary ballot, although most other opposition politicians want her to join them in boycotting the vote unless Musharraf's government fulfills their charter demands.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Aralık 2007, 17:34