Bhutto, Sharif target Musharraf
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Former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif have hit the presidential campaign trail. They are concentrating their fire on the incumbent president, Pervez Musharraf. (Report: N. Rushworth)
NOWSHERA, Pakistan, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Guarded by hundreds
of police, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto took her
the opposition prepared to battle President Pervez Musharraf.
leaders Bhutto and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who have
both returned from exile, organised rallies in a campaign
clouded by worries of vote rigging and militant attacks.
Pakistani soldiers in an attack on a military convoy in the
northwest near the Afghan border and 15 insurgents were killed
in retaliation, the military said.
killing innocent people," Bhutto told supporters in the town of
Nowshera in North West Frontier Province, where tribal militants
are fighting government forces.
clapped as she stood to speak from behind a bullet-proof podium.
fighting since July, military officials say.
Jan. 8 parliamentary election by agreeing to run, political
leaders organised their parties before the campaign picks up
pace with the publication of candidates' lists on Sunday.
province, which returns about half the members of parliament and
is his traditional stronghold of support.
Iqbal, spokesman for Sharif's party.
two main opposition parties and the Pakistan Muslim League
(PML), which backs Musharraf.
election for a free and fair vote and that the result will be
biased in favour of parties loyal to Musharraf, raising the
prospect of a contested result.
Musharraf last month, said authorities were trying to restrict
election coverage with a warning not to violate a ban on live
broadcasts, or risk three years in jail.
an attempt to silence the free media," the Pakistan Federal
Union of Journalists said in a statement.
instability in the nuclear-armed U.S. ally.
confidence in Musharraf, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino
lifted on December 16. And today is only the 12th. So let's wait
1999 coup, could fare badly because his popularity has slumped
this year in tandem with his efforts to replace a Supreme Court
chief regarded as hostile to his government.
parliament that might even move to impeach Musharraf, who
stepped down as army chief last month, over accusations he acted
unconstitutionally in securing a new term as president.
have to enter into a coalition to create a ruling majority.
possible but ruled out an alliance with those controlled by
Musharraf or Muslim clerics, the Washington Times reported.
convictions he says were politically motivated. He has said he
has no plans for an electoral alliance with Bhutto.
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