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Sunday, 6 August, 2000, 21:59 GMT 22:59 UK
Musharraf urged to hold elections
Musharraf supporters
Musharraf supporters protested outside the Lahore meeting
By Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad

Almost all the prominent opposition parties in Pakistan have jointly asked the present military administration to immediately announce a timetable for holding fresh elections.

A meeting attended by the political parties of the former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif and about three dozen other groups of divergent views asked the government not to amend the country's constitution.

Mrs Bhutto and Mr Sharif may have been the arch-rivals of Pakistani politics, but on Sunday their representatives sat with several other groups to denounce military rule in the country.

The day-long meeting in Lahore saw some fireworks, with a couple of smaller groups opposed to the wording of the joint declaration. Yet it was passed by an overwhelming vote.

General Musharraf
General Musharraf says he aims to tackle corruption and economic failure

The declaration strongly criticised the military government's economic policies and its anti-corruption drive against the politicians.

It also opposed the government's plan for a devolution of power and said it should be left to the elected parliament to restructure the local government system.

The meeting said the military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, had no right to amend the country's constitution, and asked him to immediately provide a road map for holding fresh elections in the country.

This is perhaps the strongest denunciation of the present government since General Musharraf seized power in a military coup last October.

But many observers say the fact that the military authorities allowed the meeting to take place suggests that they do not feel threatened by such developments.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | South Asia
Pakistan after the coup: Special report
30 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sharif calls for talks with military
07 Jul 00 | South Asia
Mass arrest of Sharif supporters
07 Jul 00 | South Asia
Muslim League: Signs of rift
02 Jun 00 | South Asia
Sharif charged with corruption
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